When it comes to choosing a meal delivery service, there are several factors to consider: cost (a biggie), delivery area, and diet friendliness, just to name a few. But, really, the most important factor is whether you’ll actually enjoy the meals.

Healthline’s team of testers is dedicated to answering the important questions — Are the meals easy to prepare? and Do they actually taste good? — to help you determine which service is right for your taste buds and wallet.

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A note on vetting

In addition to testing, every meal delivery service featured on Healthline has also been vetted to ensure that they align with Healthline’s brand integrity standards and approach to well-being.

Each service that passes vetting:

  • is in compliance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food safety and manufacturing regulations
  • uses a trusted shipper to handle its food products
  • lists all ingredients, allergens, and nutrition facts on the website or product packaging
  • promotes a healthy approach to well-being
  • does not make unsupported health claims on its website or marketing materials

You can read more about our vetting process.

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Whether we’re trying a meal kit or a prepared meal delivery service, there are two key steps of the testing process: selecting the meals and cooking and eating them.

Sign-up and meal selection process

Signup page for HelloFreshShare on Pinterest
HelloFresh sign-up page | Screenshot courtesy of SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN

When possible, Healthline testers select meals from multiple menus offered by a meal delivery service. This allows testers to get a more comprehensive view of the types of flavors, cuisines, and meals each service offers.

For example, while some services offer a dedicated vegan menu — like Green Chef — others only offer one or two vegan entrees to choose from each week — like HelloFresh. Therefore, we wouldn’t want to recommend HelloFresh to people following a vegan lifestyle.

With the exception of services like BistroMD that are designed to provide all of your meals for the week, we typically test three to four lunch and dinner entrees per service.

Cooking and eating

Spanish-Spiced Salmon & Veggie Quinoa with Almond-Date ToppingShare on Pinterest
Blue Apron Spanish-Spiced Salmon & Veggie Quinoa with Almond-Date Topping | Photography courtesy of Kelli McGrane, MS, RD

With the exception of a few meal delivery review videos, most of our testing is done at our testers’ homes.

This allows our testers to get the full experience of ordering their meals, receiving them at their front door or apartment lobby, and preparing the entrees according to the testers’ typical weekday schedules — which for many is after work or after picking up kids from school or daycare.

Meals are prepared according to recipes or package instructions without ingredient substitutions. Testers are asked to note whether they decided to add extra ingredients, like lemon juice or avocado, after taking a few bites of the meal to boost the flavor or nutritional profile of the dish.

Testers are asked to consider and comment on several key factors to help you decide whether a service might be the right fit.

Meal variety

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Martha & Marley Spoon Weekly Menu | Screenshot courtesy of Kelli McGrane, MS, RD

While variety is the spice of life for some people, others might prefer a service that allows them to select their tried-and-true favorites each week.

Here are the main questions testers are thinking about during the sign-up and meal selection process:

  • Is the sign-up process easy to navigate, or does it require a bit of a learning curve?
  • How many serving sizes are available? Would the service be a good fit for families?
  • Are there diet-specific menus or filter options? Similarly, is it easy to find meals that are suitable for specific dietary needs or preferences?
  • How many recipe or meal options are there to choose from? Do the options change? And if so, how often?
  • Is there a good variety of cuisines, flavor profiles, and ingredient combinations to choose from?

Nutritional composition

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Green Chef Garlic Honey Chicken recipe card | Screenshot courtesy of Kelli McGrane, MS, RD

Because many people look to meal kits to help make eating healthier more convenient, testers are asked to consider the nutritional quality of the meals. For example:

  • Is it easy to select nutritionally balanced meals?
  • Are there specific menus or filters that allow you to find recipes that suit specific dietary needs?
  • Do most recipes or meals (especially ones labeled as being healthier choices) include lean proteins, healthy fats, fiber-rich foods, and at least one serving of vegetables?

Testers also note whether a service relies more on minimally processed versus heavily processed ingredients.


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Dinnerly delivery box | Photography courtesy of Kelli McGrane, MS, RD

After placing their order, testers are asked to take note of the following:

  • Does the service offer notifications, such as texts or emails, to let you know when your meal is scheduled to arrive and to confirm your delivery?
  • Did the meals arrive on time? Were the ingredients still cold?
  • Were any of the items damaged during shipping?


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Sprinly All Day Sunshine Quinoa Bowl | Photography courtesy of Kelli McGrane, MS, RD

Many meal delivery services, including Sunbasket and Splendid Spoon, are making strides to become more eco-friendly. Upon receiving their meals, testers consider the following:

  • Did the meals arrive in mostly recyclable, compostable, or reusable packaging?
  • Are there clear instructions or indicators on the packaging that explains which packaging items can be reused, recycled, or composted?

Ingredient quality and freshness

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Hungryroot ingredients | Photography courtesy of Kelli McGrane, MS, RD

In addition to making sure that nothing was damaged during shipping, testers also note the following:

  • Did the ingredients arrive fresh and in good condition?
  • Does the service offer an option for some higher quality items, such as organic produce, sustainable seafood, or grass-fed beef? If so, were those items clearly labeled when they arrived?
  • Are the ingredients you received good quality? For example, are the tomatoes bright red and juicy? Or are they a bit pale and flavorless?

Ease of preparation

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Green Chef Bulgogi Noodle Bowls ingredients | Photography courtesy of Kelli McGrane, MS, RD

Some meal services, like Blue Apron and Home Chef, are better suited to beginners than others. To determine whether a service requires expertise in the kitchen or is a good fit for busy families, testers consider the following while making their meals:

  • Is the meal relatively easy to make?
  • How much prep work is required?
  • Do you need to own special kitchen equipment?
  • Do you need to be an expert multitasker? Or can you prepare the meals while also having the distraction of pets and kids?
  • Does the recipe require you to provide additional ingredients, beyond the basics of salt, pepper, and oil?
  • Did the meals take longer than the estimated time to make?
  • Is cleanup relatively easy? Or did you have a large stack of pots and pans to wash afterward?


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Green Chef Butternut and Porcini Linguine | Photography courtesy of Kelli McGrane, MS, RD

When it comes to taste, there will always be some level of subjectivity, so you’ll have to trust our palates a bit. With that said, our testers try to provide feedback that’s as helpful as possible by noting the following:

  • Were the meals well seasoned, or did you need to add ingredients to boost the flavor, such as spices, herbs, or condiments?
  • Was there a variety of textures? Or did the ingredients seem to meld together?
  • Did the proportions of the various components of the dish seem right? Or would you have preferred more or less of an item?
  • For prepared meals, did the ingredients retain their desired texture after reheating? Specifically, were the vegetables mushy? Did the chicken or fish get dried out?

Overall impression

After taking the entire experience — from selecting meals to eating them — into consideration, our testers come to a final conclusion on whether they would recommend the service, and, if so, who specifically the service might be the best fit for.

Kelli McGrane, MS, RD

  • Role: Healthline Nutrition Editor II
  • Dietary needs and preferences: flexitarian
  • Meal-time preferences: make-ahead, one-pan, and 30-minute weeknight meals and recipes that are toddler-friendly

In addition to being a registered dietitian, I’m also a cookbook author and previously worked as a recipe developer. As a nutrition editor, I’ve reviewed countless meal and grocery delivery services. I’ve also tried more than 25 of the most popular meal delivery services on the market.

Between working full time and having a 2-year-old as my sous chef, I’m constantly on the lookout for quick and easy meals that are nutritionally balanced while still being flavorful and kid-friendly.

Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD

  • Role: Healthline Writer
  • Dietary needs and preferences: vegetarian, high protein
  • Meal-time preferences: quick and easy recipes

As a registered dietitian and foodie, I’m all about finding dishes that are equally flavorful and nutritious. I’ve also tried a handful of the meal delivery services on the market and love finding ways to save time in the kitchen.

SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

  • Role: Healthline Writer
  • Dietary needs and preferences: low carb options
  • Meal-time preferences: family-friendly meals and plenty of variety

I’m a registered dietitian and a mom of two young children, so I’m always looking for ways to streamline meal planning and prep while still getting healthy meals on the table.

Over the past year, I’ve tested almost every single meal kit available. After trying so many services, I’ve become more aware of the true pros and cons of these services and understand what a customer should expect from the experience.

Sara Haas, RDN, LDN

  • Role: Healthline Writer
  • Dietary needs and preferences: none
  • Meal-time preferences: quick and easy, fresh and tasty

As a professional chef and registered dietitian, I dedicate 99% of my time to creating recipes that can be easily crafted and enjoyed. I’m also honest. If I don’t like something, I’ll be sure to let you know!

Lauren Manaker, RDN, LD, CLEC

  • Role: Healthline Writer
  • Dietary needs and preferences: no pork and nothing too spicy
  • Meal-time preferences: quick and easy — minimal prep

I’m an award-winning registered dietitian, freelance writer, and a busy (and tired) working mom. As much as I wish I had enough time to prepare home-cooked meals every evening, my lifestyle is simply not conducive to that.

Finding solutions that save me time in the kitchen is essential to making it through the week. Health is a priority for me. So, not only does the meal have to be easy to prepare, but it has to be somewhat healthy.

Steven Rowe

  • Role: Healthline Editor
  • Dietary needs and preferences: vegetarian
  • Meal-time preferences: quick-prep meals for a busy family and toddler-friendly meals for picky eaters

I’m a full-time dad with a full-time job who also has recently unlocked his passion for home cooking. I love making a flavorful dinner, especially if it’s a meal that both my wife and 3-year-old can enjoy. I love taking my time while cooking, but during the work week, I can always appreciate a quick and satisfying meal too.