If frequent grocery shopping and meal planning feel overwhelming amid everything else on your plate during a global pandemic, you're not alone– but more importantly, a meal kit delivery service can offer some much-needed stress relief.

I've been on the meal delivery service bandwagon for a while now, but it took me a while to come around. Initially, I was worried about the price. Would it really be worth it? I can answer that question now with an enthusiastic YES.

Most kits are comparable in cost to what I'd spend at the grocery store (plus having a little bit of my own time back = invaluable), but they can also be incredibly affordable if you order them right. Most offer discounts and deals for first-time customers that can span up to 4 weeks. Although each company has a different cancellation policy– and they can be challenging to find on the website– I found it easy to mark it down on my calendar so as not to forget when to cancel. And an added bonus– many services will attempt to win you back by offering additional coupons and discounts.

From beginners to plant-based foodies, and everything in between there really is an option out there for everyone. Many of these services offer options for vegans, vegetarians, calorie counters, carb counters, family-friendly, and more.

TL;DR There is absolutely no reason you need to mask up and put on your real pants to go to the grocery for weekly meals that are tasty, healthy, and affordable. Read on for a few of my favorite meal kit delivery services

Hello Fresh

What Does It Offer: Options for veggie, meat and veggie, family-friendly or low-calorie recipes, and meal plans for 2 or 4 people with the option to add extras such as proteins, lunches, and desserts.

Best For: People with limited time, vegetarians, beginners, or just people looking to improve their cooking skills.

What I Liked: Directions are clearly laid out, and easy to follow. Each recipe has a difficulty level– making it easy to select something for your level of expertise. You can also choose to omit certain ingredients or request diet-friendly meals like low-carb options. The meals rotate each week, offering tons of diversity, and it's easy to browse through the photos of each meal and view time it takes to make, nutrition information as well as the full recipe. I also love that the ingredients for each meal are separated into bags, so you don't have to dig around for each ingredient if you order multiple recipes. Overall Hello Fresh has been my favorite meal kit delivery– it's affordable, has a ton of options to choose from, and the food is good.

What I Didn't Like: Portions come in sizes of 2 or 4. If you have a larger family, or if you live alone– those options might be less than ideal.

Blue Apron

Blue Apron

What Does It Offer: Select from different recipe plans including, Vegetarian, Weight Watchers, Signature – or select your own. Plans are for 2-4 people with up to 4 recipes per week.

Best For: Busy moms who like to cook, but have limited time. For beginners interested in learning more about food and wine pairings.

What I liked: Almost all of their recipes take 20-30 minutes to make, and there’s not too much prep involved, as most of their spices are already mixed for you. For a busy mom with limited time, this is ideal. Another fun perk is the wine pairing recommendations! I loved learning about which wine would pair with my dinner, and could see this making for a fun date night in. Blue Apron also has a companion wine subscription service that pairs with its meal delivery.

What I didn't like: Folks with a lot of experience cooking may not like this option. Most of the recipes, while delicious, were on the simpler side.

Freshly

What Does It Offer: Easily customizable, frozen single-serve meals. Choose from 4, 6, 9, or 12 meals per week.

Best For: Busy folks, single diners, and/or those with gluten intolerance.

What I liked: It doesn’t get much easier than a microwavable dinner. Freshly is unique in that it gives you a one-serving option and comes premade, and their food is surprisingly delicious. I enjoyed trying this as I find myself often wanting to try different meals than my family's typical favorites (chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers), but could see how this would be a good option for single diners, folks that travel a lot or those that are just short on time. The meal selection is diverse and impressive, and I found a lot of stuff I really liked. I was also impressed with their gluten-free selections, which I haven't seen offered from other services.

What I didn't like: This is not the best option for vegans or vegetarians as there isn't a lot to choose from. Also, I found myself actually wanting to cook and learn some new recipes -- so this wasn't the best option for me.

Purple Carrot

What Is It: Plant-based meal delivery service. Select from either a 2 or 4 serving plan with up to 4 meals per week.

Best For: Vegans, vegetarians, or those interested in trying to eat more veggies or try more meatless meals.

What I liked: I was hesitant to try this kit because my husband thoroughly enjoys meat with almost every dinner. However, we had some friends rave about it, and I decided to go for it. I am interested in learning more about plant-based proteins and incorporating more vegetables into my diet, so this seemed like a perfect fit. I was very impressed with the taste and food quality of each meal–– even my husband enjoyed most of the meals. The instructions were helpful, without being overly elementary (most vegetarians likely know how to dice an avocado already), but they did include helpful notes when a recipe is spicy for example.

What I didn't like: The cost is a little more than some other plans - though the portions were large. While it was fun to explore vegan and vegetarian options, ultimately it wasn't a fit for my carnivorous family.

Home Chef

What Is It: Order between 2 and 6 meals per week for up to 6 people. Select from recipe categories such as; vegetarian, calorie-conscious, carb-conscious, or under 30-minutes.

Best For: Beginners, or those not interested in anything overly complicated or complex.

What I liked: Home Chef's detailed instructions make this service perfect for those that aren't that comfortable in the kitchen. Recipes include reminders for things like reserving part of an ingredient for later use, with pictures that detail each step. The food is good and seemed to appeal to a range of eaters without being too bland.

What I didn't like: All of the meals I had were good, but they weren't amazing. I found myself hunting for meals that I was excited about, and underwhelmed with the final product. Overall they were good, and my family enjoyed most of the meals, but I found myself wanting something a bit more complex.

Other Options:

There are TONS of other options for meal delivery kits. A few I haven't tried but would like to in the future are:

Daily Harvest - Delicious and nourishing smoothies, soups, lattes, and more!

EveryPlate - A great for those on a budget.

Sun Basket - The best for organic food lovers.

Martha and Marley Spoon - For gourmet lovers.

Yumble Kids - A great option for families with kids.

How To Create Melted Crayon Art How To Create Melted Crayon Art
17 Low-Cal Vegetarian Meals You Can Make in Minutes 17 Low-Cal Vegetarian Meals You Can Make in Minutes
WTF Is a Rutabaga and How Do You Cook One? WTF Is a Rutabaga and How Do You Cook One?