If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon already, the time has come to officially venture into the vast world of online weekly cooking meal plans, or dinner kits if you will. What is this vast world you ask? Is it somewhat like diet meal plans? Is everyone enrolling in NutriSystem and letting their gluttony know no bounds? Is Jenny Craig the new meal plan of choice?
No, no, and no.
This wondrous foodie mecca that I am speaking of consists of online food services that you subscribe to on a weekly basis. The services put together various meals each week and then deliver these weekly meal kits with the exact portion of each ingredient so that one can cook and learn new recipes. They come in a refrigerated box so that your food stays fresh for when you return home. Fancy huh? Yet, they are neither fancy NOR too difficult. Anyone from the master chef to the novice can achieve greatness by using the below services for your dinner needs, and save time, waste, and money in the process.
Perhaps known as the most popular of the bunch, Blue Apron began its trendsetting by aiming to make incredible home cooking accessible to everyone. By setting high standards for their ingredients and only using sustainable farmers, you’re also making a positive impact on the environment when utilizing this service.
They often have great deals for first time users, but the regular weekly plans vary from the two person plan with three meals for $59.94 per week, and the family plan which feeds four at $69.92 per week for two meals, and $139.84 for 4 meals. Shipping is always free nationwide, and they allow you to choose between six different meal options, depending on your dietary preference. You can cancel at any time and skip weeks when necessary. Unlike the other services, they also have a wine store where you can choose which drinks pair best with your meal, as well as a market for all your cooking needs. Cooking made so very simple.
HelloFresh gives you the option of a classic box, a vegetarian box, or a family plan. Unlike Blue Apron, you can choose to receive three, four or five recipes per week, even if it’s not the family plan. The classic 2-person 3-meal option is about $69 per week, but this is when you aren’t lucky enough to get it for $40 off your first time. It’s pretty on par with Blue Apron price-wise and prides itself on fresh ingredients with local suppliers.
However, this one partners with Chef Jamie Oliver and deliver his great recipes for your use. Each recipe booklet gives a step-by-step guide on what to do first and so on, which makes it a really fun and easy cooking lesson.
Of course, when I see ingredients I’ve never cooked before, like swiss chard, I become completely befuddled and take a ridiculously long time to complete the meal, which happened here. Personally, I need a bit more detail in the directions, which was a general problem with every meal plan service. Saying it takes 30 minutes really means over an hour for you beginners out there.
What could be considered the healthiest of the bunch, Green Chef prides itself on using strictly fresh, organic ingredients. Its meal plan options are suitable for anyone who is a carnivore, omnivore, paleo, gluten free, vegetarian or vegan.
However, the variety of dietary restriction plans definitely makes it the most expensive of the bunch. Three weekly meals for two comes in around $81 for the omnivore set and shipping is unfortunately not included. It often has great deals as well for two to four free meals on your first order. I find that it has the most interesting options and combinations that still taste delicious each and every time. Healthy made tasty for all.
Is there anyone you can trust more than Martha Stewart when it comes to a good recipe? Ironic since she went to prison, BUT food-wise, you don’t get much better than her. The basic two-person plan is around $61 per week, and it also has a family plan option as well. It values seasonal and fresh ingredients and allows you to mix and match your options. While Marley Spoon doesn’t deliver nationwide or accommodate many diets like Green Chef, it does offer a very eclectic mix of recipes that I haven’t seen elsewhere. If you’re into surprising your palette and experimenting on an array of foods from Martha herself, this service is for you.
The stand-out in this service is the option for dessert. What well-balanced, sustainable meal doesn’t have dessert!? Good thinking Plated. With nine different recipes to choose from as well as two dessert options per week, this service keeps in mind that flexibility is key. The price is right for three dinners for two people at $72 per week, with an additional cost for the dessert. It offers options for omnivores, vegetarians, seafood lovers and dessert seekers. The recipes are very creative yet easy to execute, so you feel gourmet without the difficulty. Basically, the thing to remember here is include the option for dessert.
All in all, using the above services allowed me to take away some valuable cooking experiences and taste new ingredients that I may possibly want to use again. Since they always have a deal for first time users, I’d recommend trying any of the above out and see what’s best for you. Or you know, you could drag yourself to the supermarket bi-weekly like the old days. Transform your cooking skills from novice to experience, guaranteed.