Everything You Need to Know Before Trying Meal Kit Delivery Services

Tired of figuring out dinner every night after a stressful day? Meal kits promise gourmet dishes on the table in under an hour without the hassle of shopping and meal planning. No wonder meal kit delivery services have exploded into a $3.1 billion dollar industry seemingly overnight [1].

But are they right for your family?

I analyzed Reddit‘s top thread recommendations to cut through the marketing hype and break down exactly how leading options like HelloFresh and BlueApron compare on variety, pricing and more. Arm yourself with insider tips before you subscribe!

Meal Delivery 101: Cost and Environmental Impact

Meal kits ship pre-prepped fresh ingredients and recipes to simplifying cooking. Services ask you how many people you‘re cooking for, any diet preferences, and delivery frequency upfront.

Then tasty menus and perfectly portioned items arrive at your doorstep weekly ready for quick assembly.

Cost wise meal kits fall somewhere between restaurant dining and home cooking from scratch when you calculate per person per meal pricing:

  • Restaurant meal out: $12-$15 per person
  • Meal kit delivery: $8-$12 per person
  • Home cooked meal: $5-$8 per person

However, each route carries different effort tradeoffs:

  • Restaurants = zero work, most expensive
  • Meal Kits = moderate effort, moderate cost
  • Home cooking = most effort initially, least expensive

You also generate less food waste since kits contain just what you need ingredient-wise for recipes. But packaging increases substantially – some estimate up to 4 bags per delivery on average.

Now let‘s explore the top contenders based on crowd-sourced Reddit opinions…

1. HelloFresh

  • Most Popular Overall
  • 50+ Weekly Recipe Choices
  • From $8.99 Per Serving
  • Ideal For: Singles or families desiring variety

With the most weekly rotating recipes, highest order customization and reliable quality, HelloFresh dominates Reddit recommendations as the best meal kit service overall right now.

One user even says: "Tried them ALL at some point and #HelloFresh is hands down best."

HelloFresh Korean Bibimbap Bowl

Key Advantages

  • 50+ recipe choices weekly
  • Options always labeled for 1 or 2 person and family meals
  • Generous portions, even for leftover lunches
  • Promos can drop cost to under $8 per serving
  • Gourmet global recipes outside comfort zone

With economies of scale, HelloFresh leads industrywide by using sourced local ingredients for freshness too.

Best for foodie flexitarians, busy parents and solo dwellers all alike given singular and family filters to satisfy every palette affordably.

2. Blue Apron

  • Most Diverse Weekly Menus
  • From $9.99 Per Serving
  • Best For: Specialized diets and vegetarians

Of all the meal kit brands, Blue Apron shines brightest offering niche diet or lifestyle options in abundance.

Blue Apron Shrimp Boil

With 20+ recipes rotating weekly, the variety eclipses competitors as well. And sustainably sourced proteins keep both ethics and tastebuds happy. One user endorses:

"Of all the meal kits I‘ve tried, Blue Apron just has the best variety and veg options."

Key Advantages

  • 20+ weekly recipes to choose from
  • Specialized menus for diets like:
    • Vegetarian
    • Diabetes friendly
    • WW compliant
  • Quality ingredients – antibiotic free, grass fed
  • Seafood easily swapped for veg proteins
  • Manifesto supporting eco-responsible practices

So whether you crave exciting new flavours or need to stick gluten-free, the expansive options give you flexibility other kits can lack.

Best for veggie lovers, specialized diets, locally-sourced devotees.

3. Home Chef

  • Most Family Friendly
  • From $9.49 Per Serving
  • Best for: Households of 3-6

When cooking to please picky palates in numbers, Home Chef solves the "what‘s for dinner" crisis with less pain.

Larger portion one-tray bakes streamline prep for parents maxed out on juggling family demands. And you can double or swap proteins easily. One time-strapped mom reviews:

"I have 3 kids with very different tastes. Home Chef kits keep everyone happy and mom sane!"

Home Chef One Pan Meatloaves

Their oven-ready meals mean you skip fiddly assembly in favor of fast oven magic instead – huge win for chaotic family living.

Key Advantages

  • 15+ recipes weekly, simple substitutions
  • Family-sized portions for 3-6 people
  • Quick oven-prep meals
  • Kid favorite dishes like chicken tenders, tacos
  • Affordable at $9.49 per serving

When you‘re shopping, prepping and cooking for an army every night, Home Chef‘s family formula checks all the boxes.

Best for households with 3 or more members needing easy paths to dinner victory.

4. EveryPlate

  • Most Budget Friendly
  • From Just $4.99 Per Serving
  • Best for: Cost conscious buyers

As the cheapest meal kit provider vying for the budget bracket, EveryPlate proves you don‘t have to sacrifice quality to save. Simplified models strip out complexities driving bigger price tags elsewhere.

Think pared down ingredients shopping without the labeling and exact protein gramming. But unfussy family classics still bring happiness to the table while keeping nearly $8 extra nightly in your wallet.

One happy penny-pinching subscriber says:

"At under $5 per meal, tastes good and fits my budget – total win for me!"

Everyplate Pork Carnitas

Key Advantages

  • Just $4.99 per serving
  • Streamlined offering focuses value
  • 9 diverse recipes to pick from weekly
  • Satisfying meat and veggie blends for family meals
  • Skip premium ingredients for budget savings

Saving money makes life easier for everyone. With EverPlate you still eat well without premium frills deemed non-essential.

Best for shoppers wanting bang for buck above all else.

5. Sun Basket

  • Best for Special Diets
  • From $11.99 Per Serving
  • Great for: Food allergies or preferences

When restricted diets like gluten-free, keto, vegan and more enter chat, Sun Basket prioritizes safely nourishing customers foremost through tailored, allergen-considerate meal selections.

Mindfully sourced organic produce then assists the sensitive gut cause. Though premium ingredients do raise costs up. One ingredient vigilante explains:

"I have CRAZY food allergies but Sun Basket keeps me fed and happy! Worth every penny."

Sun Basket Pad Thai

Key Advantages

  • Specialized diet menus including:
    • Gluten-free
    • Dairy-free
    • Keto
    • Paleo
    • Vegan
    • Vegetarian
  • Organic produce and ingredients
  • Responsibly raised proteins
  • FROM $11.99 per serving

If navigating the grocery aisles reads like a battlefield filled with your trigger ingredients, Sun Basket has your back.

Best for food allergy sufferers or anyone requiring specific diet accommodating meal solutions.

How to Select the Best Meal Kit Service For You

Choosing the RIGHT meal delivery service for your family depends on:

Your key deciding factors should be:

  • Menu variety – 15+ weekly choices provide enough options. Check diet specific choices available too.
  • Portion sizes – Meals serving 2-4 people reduce waste if you don‘t have large leftovers.
  • Special diets – Rules out certain ingredients? Carefully vet each service.
  • Prep work – Look for oven-ready meals to save time if life‘s chaotic. Most recipes still 30-60 mins hands on.
  • Budget – Compare price per serving + fees to find best value equation.
  • Waste – More packaging than groceries so only order what you‘ll use before spoilage.

Let‘s explore how to shop the key considerations…

Assess True Variety

If you know you‘ll quickly tire of repetitive meals, ensure candidate services provide 15-20+ weekly recipes to mix up. Scale servings to match your household size as well.

Singles should seek 1-2 person specific offerings. While bustling families do better choosing meal options for 4-6 directly.

Check Special Diets Accommodations

People needing to avoid ingredients like dairy, eggs, wheat etc don‘t fare well with generalized offerings. Seek services actively developing recipes based on limitations.

For the best odds:

  • Ask directly about ingredients
  • Review menus if avoiding items like common allergens
  • Spot check nutrition labels on sample choices

Services accommodating include:

  • Dairy-free
  • Egg-free
  • Soy/Nut/Wheat/Gluten diet needs

Add Up True Costs

The dollars can get sneaky between:

  • Base subscription rates
  • Person serving multipliers
  • Random fees
  • Taxes
  • Shipping

Crunch the numbers for your household‘s size before committing.

Factor in any new customer promos and discounts on first deliveries too. Services hope you‘ll stick around at regular pricing after, so stack savings upfront when you can.

Be realistic about portions as well – babies and tweens consume less than ravenous teens.

Consider Your Time Tradeoff

"Ready in 30 minutes" doesn‘t account for dirty pots, pans and dishes you still wash after. Are extras like pre-chopped ingredients or oven-ready trays worth a few extra bucks to you?

Home chefs short on time may justify the premium, while relaxed cooks confident with ingredients save money prepping themselves.

You also place online orders, customize recipes and unpack everything that shows up. Meal kits only reduce effort compared to carrying groceries and fully meal planning solo.

Compare Environmental Impacts

Green shoppers cringe at the amount of packaging meal kit services generate. While not deal breakers, consider counter measures like:

  • Recycling paper, metals and plastics properly after use
  • Composting food waste instead of sending to landfills
  • Freezing extra portions immediately to minimize spoilage

Also know not every company offsets carbon emissions from shipping and refrigeration fully at this point. So if eco-impact carries weight, factor into selection criteria.

Choose Services Matching Your Reasons

Now that you know the distinguishing factors between each popular meal kit provider, match needs.

Households like:

  • Singles/couples wanting variety/adventurous recipes do well with HelloFresh or BlueApron.
  • Special diets/food intolerances require SunBasket‘s oversite.
  • Budget buyers wanting basics find EveryPlate friendliest.
  • Busy families of 4+ suit HomeChef‘s crowd pleasing options best.

Meal Kit Delivery: Is It Worth It?

Spoiler alert – meal kit convenience does carry a price, especially in packaging and premium quality ingredients. Yet legions of fans swear by services as sanity savers.

So are they truly worth it cost and waste wise? It depends…

For households:

  • Constantly hitting drive-thrus or quick microwave meals, spending a little extra on nourishing ready-to-cook kits pays dividends long run health wise.
  • With parents taxed keeping everyone satisfied and well fed every night, pre-planned variety brings joy back at affordable per portion prices.
  • That waste time or money on poor grocery planning, simplified meal systems rescue overbuying mishaps and food spoilage simultaneously.

Occasional users or seasoned meal preppers may continue finding greater value self sourcing staples on sale though.

Overall, meal kit devotees highlight how curated ingredients = more mindfulness around meals too.

HelloFresh converting quantity consumption to more quality time together. And less stress wrestling with dinner decisions.

Meal Kit Delivery Gives Home Chefs Their Lives Back

If you feel trapped in an endless cycle of grocery trips and still asking "what‘s for dinner?", meal kit delivery services bring simplicity back to the table so you can enjoy more than just the food again.

Now that you know the pros, cons, costs and commitments required, pick the service resonating best with your family‘s needs. Confidently order without sticker shock or surprises.

I recommend starting with discounted trial offers before you subscribe long term. Make sure any service jives with your schedule, tastes and reasonable waste diligence too.

Now stop panicking six o‘ clock rolls around each day. Let the experts handle the meal planning and shopping while you reclaim evenings spent together instead of scrounging sustenance stressed and underfed.

The modern luxury of home cooked happiness awaits your order today.

Still hesitant if meal kit lifefits your lifestyle?

Reply to my email with any lingering specifics holding you back. Perhaps they seem like just another chore on the pile? Too good to be true cost-wise? Always happy to clarify the perks and downsides before you dive in!

Cooking confidence awaits…

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