- When it comes to feeding my family, I want healthy meals that don’t take a lot of time to whip up. Meal delivery services have saved me a lot of time.
- Freshly, Hello Fresh, and Sun Basket are three meal delivery service options with family-friendly meals that taste great and take little time to prepare.
- If you don’t want to shop, plan, or cook, I recommend Freshly (starting at $8.99 per serving). Their customer service is excellent, and most meals are healthy and under 600 calories.
Between kids’ activities and trying to carve out time for myself, cooking dinner is often an afterthought. That’s why “Who wants pizza?” is a familiar refrain in my home. But takeout can be expensive, and cheaper options, like pizza, can be unhealthy.
Thankfully, I’ve found that meal delivery services provide convenient options that not only save me time but are also healthier and tastier. I don’t have to plan, I don’t have to think, and a meal can be ready in minutes. There have even been days I placed an order as I waited in the school pickup line.
I’ve tried three meal delivery services that worked well for my family. Read on to learn more about each of them.
The best part about Freshly is that all of the meals are premade, making it an attractive option for parents who don’t want or have time to cook. You don’t have to measure, chop, or saute. You can pop the premade meal in the microwave, and it’s ready in minutes. The portions are reasonable, and everything is sealed, so it won’t spoil or make a mess in the microwave. And you can have it delivered on Monday and still enjoy it on Friday.
How does Freshly work?
Like most meal subscription plans, you choose a certain number of meals per week to be delivered on a particular day. The upside to this method is that everything is automated. You preselect your meals each week, and they are automatically shipped. While this is convenient, if you want to skip a week but forget to update your subscription, you’ll get the meals anyway.
Updating or changing your weekly subscription is easy with their app. It has a simple interface, and customer service responds quickly. One time they delivered my meals to the wrong address, and within seconds, I was able to speak with a customer service representative. I got my meals plus they gave me a free week of food.
What does the food taste like?
As far as premade food goes, it's pretty tasty. What I love is that most of the meals are under 600 calories, and they have a lot of healthy options. The food is never frozen, and it always tastes fresh to me and my family. The meal options vary from week to week, but for the most part, the menu stays the same. There are some pretty good vegetarian options and ones for meat lovers as well.
My favorite was the Buffalo chicken. It's a chicken breast slathered with creamy Buffalo wing sauce. It is spicy but not overwhelming and comes with cheesy, bacon cauliflower mash. I also really enjoyed the cod cakes. My kids are picky, so I relied on the kid-friendly options of spaghetti and meatballs or mac 'n' cheese for them.
One downside of these otherwise convenient meals is the plastic seal on the container. The thin plastic is difficult to remove, especially when hot. However, you can easily remove the cold food and heat it in the oven.
What is the cost?
Freshly costs anywhere from $8.99 to $12.50 per meal. The company offers different meal plans, and this determines the cost. If you order four meals per week, each meal is $12.50, but if you order 12 meals per week, each meal is $8.99. Shipping is always free, helping to reduce the cost.
- Saves time: Coming home to premade meals makes my life simpler. There's nothing better than not having to worry about cooking when I'm tired.
- Kid-friendly options: While my kids are picky, I did find that I could always serve a few Freshly dishes without too many complaints. Also, the meals are nutritious - Freshly offers zucchini spaghetti and pasta with vegetables.
- Outstanding customer service: Every time I spoke to someone from their customer service team, I was satisfied. As mentioned above, they gave me a free week of food because of a delivery mix-up. Another time, my meals were delayed, and they gave me $20 off.
- Tasty choices: I really loved a few of the dishes and relied on them week after week to satisfy my cravings.
- Expensive: Fresh, premade food is not cheap. If you purchase a larger plan, the price goes down, but sometimes you only need a few premade meals per week. I did find other meal subscription services are more expensive than Freshly, so it is, at least, cheaper than other options.
- Plastic seal: Removing the plastic seal each time was bothersome. But this could be more of a personal pet peeve than an actual con.
The best part about Hello Fresh is the convenience. If you love cooking, but don't have the time to shop or plan, Hello Fresh aims to make things easier. When I received my package each week, it contained brown paper bags filled with the fresh ingredients needed for each recipe.
You open the bag and follow the instruction card. The recipe cards themselves were impressive. Each card is large with full-color pictures showing each step of the recipe, and they were easy to follow.
Hello Fresh isn't as convenient as getting premade meals from Freshly, but if you have time to cook, it's a great option. I like that the recipe cards serve as an actual cooking lesson. I also never made a recipe of theirs that I didn't love.
How does Hello Fresh work?
You pick a plan based based on two criteria: 1) how many meals per week, and 2) what portion size. You then choose the delivery date. Unlike Freshly, you can skip or change meals at any time. However, if you forget to pause your subscription, you'll still be charged.
All meals come in refrigerated boxes, delivered right to your door. I found all of the ingredients to be fresh - the downside here is that you'll need to cook the meals within a reasonable time frame. As a working mom, I like to make bigger batches of food to last for a few days. Hello Fresh offers family portions for four people. Since my kids are still pretty young, I've found the portions stretch to six or seven servings.
What does the food taste like?
The food is amazing. I never had a dish I didn't really enjoy. The ingredients are fresh, and the recipes are fun and creative.
Hello Fresh changes its menu weekly, so choosing recipes is like ordering from a restaurant. Sometimes I would long for my favorite dish, the Korean beef bibimbap, when it wasn't available. The recipe choices vary from quick, healthy meals to indulgences like stuffed burgers and sweet potato fries.
What is the cost?
The cost varies depending on portion size, food preference, and the number of meals per week. For example, two meat and vegetable meals for two people cost about $39.96 plus shipping. Two family-friendly meals for four people amount to about $71.92 plus shipping. You can try out the service for a few weeks for a serious discount and free shipping.
- Convenient: You don't have to plan or shop for freshly cooked meals.
- Delicious Recipes: The recipes were tasty, and I felt like a culinary master after each meal.
- Recipe Cards: Each one is easy to follow, and you can save them for future reference. But keep in mind, since the ingredients are individually packaged, you don't know the exact measurement for some components.
- Rotating Menu: Each week, Freshly has new dishes to choose from. But don't worry, if you have a favorite, it usually comes back around sooner rather than later. They also offer low-calorie and vegetarian options.
- Cooking: These aren't premade meals, so they take longer to prepare than just popping a meal in the microwave. But Hello Fresh does have fast recipes, ranging from 15 to 45 minutes.
- Cost: Nothing is cheaper than buying your own ingredients at the store. While the plans are affordable, you'll still need to go to the store each week for other essentials.
Coming up with healthy meals to cook each week can be daunting whether you have children or not. Sun Basket provides diet-specific meals for those who love to cook but don't have time to plan or shop. And even if you do have time to shop, it can be hard to find the highest-quality ingredients. This is where Sun Basket steps in.
How does Sun Basket work?
Sun Basket is similar to most meal delivery services. You choose your meal plan, portion size, and delivery date. You have options for delivery throughout the week, and each box comes refrigerated, with each meal packaged in a labeled paper bag.
You can cancel at any time and modify your subscription before the deadline each week. If you forget to select your meals, the service will do it for you, pulling from the options in your dietary plan. Ordering each week through their app is easy, and their meal selection rotates, offering good variety.
Sun Basket also offers healthy snacks, breakfast, lunch, and desserts. I love to throw in the organic cranberry walnut granola for breakfast and one of their five-minute salads with a lean protein. While the gourmet food isn't particularly kid-friendly for my own kids, I find that I can choose options I think they'll like and modify the recipe to take out the spice or add some cheese.
What does the food taste like?
Sun Basket offers healthy meal plan choices to fit a variety of dietary restrictions. You can choose between carb-conscious meals, Paleo recipes, and quick and easy dishes. All of their meals contain certified-organic produce and antibiotic- and hormone-free meat and seafood. I can really taste the difference between their beef and the beef I have purchased from the grocery store.
What is the cost?
If you order four classic recipes per week for four people, it averages out to $8.99 per serving. You also get access to all 18 recipe choices.
The best value overall is to choose the family-friendly meal plan. You're limited to only six menu choices each week, but you get a larger discount. Each serving will cost $8.99. Sun Basket also charges for shipping. You can skip a week and change your meal plan type at any time.
- Convenient: It feels like you're ordering from a restaurant. Sun Basket does all the shopping and planning.
- Organic and sustainably sourced food: The produce is all certified organic, and the meat and seafood are sustainably sourced and antibiotic- and hormone-free.
- Dietary preferences: Sun Basket offers a wide variety of choices to match nutritional concerns or preferences. If you need low-carb recipes, try the Paleo meals or carb-conscious picks.
- Add-ons: You can add five-minute salads or granola treats. If you want precooked steaks or chicken, Sun Basket offers a wide selection of those. For those with more exotic taste, they have dark chocolate crickets.
- Family-Friendly: Their family-friendly meal plan averages out to $8.99 per serving.
- Cooking: If you're super short on time, cooking may not be an option. They do, however, offer meals that can be cooked in 20 minutes or less.
- Cost:Compared to other meal plans, Sun Basket is competitive, but it's still cheaper to shop at the grocery store.
Which meal service is the best?
It's hard to say which one is best overall. As a mom, I loved all three in terms of them meeting the needs of my busy family. If you don't want to shop, plan, or cook, I recommend Freshly. Their customer service is excellent, and most meals are healthy and under 600 calories.
Hello Fresh offers both healthy and indulgent choices that I enjoyed cooking, and they were kid-friendly. Sun Basket caters to those who are carb-conscious or prefer Paleo choices. Plus, they have high-quality ingredients.
Regardless of which service you choose, you'll save time and maybe even have fun whipping up culinary masterpieces or just grabbing a few minutes of time for yourself while your food heats up.
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