Trying to Eat Healthy in 2020? Here's the Food-Prep Box That's Right for You

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Who has time for meal planning? If your busy work and family schedule means you're likely to make the same chicken dish over and over again (or just pick something up on the way home), then perhaps a meal subscription service is right for you.

But with over a dozen major subscription services available, it can be overwhelming and confusing to know which one to choose. In truth, we don't believe there is a "best" food delivery service — instead, we think there's a "right" one, depending on your family size, dietary restrictions, and budget. So, to make your lives even easier, we've broken down the best food subscriptions and meal delivery services for every type of person. (You're welcome.)

Blue Apron

Who it's best for: People with kids and busy schedules. The standard Signature plan is customized according to your preferences, and Blue Apron offers both a Weight Watchers-approved Freestyle plan as well as a vegetarian-only plan, plus the choice to opt into wine pairings if you'd like to have everything sent at once.

How many recipes: The Signature plan has six recipes to choose from. Other plans may have fewer options — the Freestyle and vegetarian plans let you choose among three recipes each week.

Cost: About $10 per serving. Most plans serve two people, two or three days per week. A family plan features four servings for up to four days per week. Shipping is free if you subscribe for meals three or more days per week; it's $8 for two-day boxes.

Where to find it: Blue Apron

Dinnerly

Who it's best for: Budget-minded meal planners. Along with EveryPlate, it's among the most affordable meal subscription services thanks to simpler packaging, fewer ingredients per recipe, and not using paper recipe cards — you need to view recipes on your phone or tablet.

How many recipes: There are 14 recipes to choose from each week.

Cost: Prices start about $6.50 per serving (for two-person boxes three times a week) and drops to as little as $4.50 per serving if you subscribe for five days a week. Dinnerly charges $9 for shipping.

Where to find it: Dinnerly

EveryPlate

Who it's best for: Budget-minded meal planners. Along with Dinnerly, it's among the most affordable meal subscription services. EveryPlate offers simpler ingredients and less packaging, though unlike Dinnerly, you get recipe cards in the box each week.

How many recipes: You can choose from among eight recipes each week, one of which is a "premium" recipe that costs a few dollars extra.

Cost: EveryPlate costs $5 per serving, with a $9 shipping charge. The price is the same regardless of how many servings or days of the week you subscribe to.

Where to find it: EveryPlate

Freshly

Who it's best for: People who want to eat healthy, with no cooking required. Freshly is different than most meal subscription boxes in that you get fully cooked meals, ready to heat in the microwave and eat. Plus, all of its meals are gluten-free, all-natural, and free of refined sugars.

How many recipes: You can choose from about 30 recipes each week.

Cost: Since each meal comes in a ready-to-microwave box, don't think in terms of how many people or how many days you're subscribing for. Just think about how many meals you want to put in the fridge each week. Serving prices range from $12.50 per meal for four servings a week to $9 for 12 meals per week.

Where to find it: Freshly

Green Chef

Who it's best for: Eaters looking for GMO-free, all-organic, sustainable, and traceable ingredients (and who want to put meal planning on autopilot). Choose Green Chef if you never want to pick out your own meals. You choose the kind of diet you want to eat — keto, paleo, balanced, or vegetarian — and Green Chef sends you the number of meals you want each week.

How many recipes: You don't get a choice — Green Chef sends you meals based on your preferences.

Cost: Prices range from about $13 per serving for keto and paleo meals, to $10 for vegetarian recipes. There's also a shipping fee of about $9.

Where to find it: Green Chef

HelloFresh

Who it's best for: Those who want a wide selection of mainstream dishes with easy-to-follow recipes. In addition to the popular two-person "classic" plan, there's a "calorie smart" alternative, as well as a family plan that includes quick and easy meals for four people.

How many recipes: Each week, the Classic plan lets you can choose from about 17 recipes plus add-ons like bread and dessert. A "Calorie Smart" plan also includes three choices.

Cost: HelloFresh ranges from $7.50 to $9 per serving depending upon how many servings you order each week. You can order food for two or four people, from two to four days per week. Some "premium" meals (clearly marked on the website) cost a few dollars extra, and HelloFresh charges about $9 for sipping.

Where to find it: HelloFresh

Home Chef

Who it's best for: People who like to cook and want a little more personalization. Home Chef is unique in that it lets you customize most meals by swapping, upgrading, or even doubling up on the protein in the recipe. It also has the most flexible subscription options — up to six servings a day for as many as six days a week.

How many recipes: 17 weekly recipes to choose from, plus add-ons like strawberry orange smoothies.

Cost: Meals cost $10 per serving, and delivery is free for orders over $49. You can order meals for two, four, or even six people, anywhere from two to six days a week.

Where to find it: Home Chef

Martha & Marley Spoon

Who it's best for: Martha Stewart fans and traditional chefs looking for sophisticated meals from Martha's own archives.

How many recipes: Choose from 20 recipes each week, with options in categories like Health & Diet, Vegetarian & Vegan, Meat & Fish, Under 30 Minutes, and Family Friendly.

Cost: Serving prices vary from $8.50 for two people, four days per week to about $10.25 for two people, two days per week. A four-person family plan costs as little as $7 per serving. Every box comes with a $9 shipping fee.

Where to find it: Martha & Marley Spoon

Plated

Who it's best for: People who crave sophisticated dishes, lots of variety, and a flexible number of place settings.

How many recipes: About 20 choices per week, plus desserts.

Cost: Two servings a night costs $12 per serving, but the price drops to $10 for three or four servings. You pay shipping if the plan costs less than $60 per week (i.e., less than three recipes per week).

Where to find it: Plated

Purple Carrot

Who it's best for: Vegans. This is the only meal service with a strictly vegan recipe book.

How many recipes: You can choose from eight recipes each week, as well as breakfast and lunch add-ons. If you choose the family-friendly six serving plan, Purple Carrot chooses the meal for you based on your preferences.

Cost: $12 per serving if you opt for the two-person plan or $8 per serving for a family of six. Both options deliver three recipes each week, and shipping is always free.

Where to find it: Purple Carrot

Sun Basket

Who it's best for: Folks with specific dietary requirements and a desire to eat responsibly sourced food. Sun Basket goes out of its way to cater to eaters outside the mainstream, with a dozen plans including Carb-Conscious, Paleo, Mediterranean, Lean & Clean, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Diabetes-Friendly, Pescatarian, and more.

How many recipes: You can choose from among 18 recipes each week, though many of these will be focused on specific diets, like vegetarian or paleo.

Cost: Prices vary from $11 to $13 per serving, depending upon how many recipes you order per week, plus a $6 delivery fee.

Where to find it: Sun Basket

Hungryroot

Who it's best for: People who feel confident in the kitchen and like to experiment with new ingredients — or those with an emphasis on plant-based eating. Hungryroot is unlike other meal prep services because it sends you a box full of ingredients that can be mixed and matched together to create new recipes. A recipe suggestion card comes with the delivery, so you can get ideas, but for the most part, everything is easy and self-explanatory (each recipe can be whipped together in 10 minutes or less).

How many recipes: It all depends on how you divvy it up, but the smallest box is said to make three or more two-serving meals and the largest is five or more two-serving meals.

Cost: It costs $69 for 11 items, $99 for 16 items, and $129 for 21 items.

Where to find it: Hungyroot


Dave Johnson writes in the Los Angeles sunshine after spending years in the Seattle rain and Jersey snow. He's a been a scuba instructor, drummer, and the author of about three dozen books. Fun fact: He once drag-raced against a hoverboard while riding a Segway. For science.

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