Stephanie Nelson | 

Our Honest Meal Kits Review: The Cheap, The Flavorful and The Mushy

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Meal kits are convenient for families trying to balance work, hobbies, raising small kids or taxiing older kids to and from extracurriculars. For many of the meal kits, you still prepare and cook your meals, but you save time not having to plan and shop.

Ever noticed how when you try to find out how much meal kits cost, you often have to enter your address and zip code before you can even see the price?

We want to save you all that time and research so we ordered seven meal kits, cooked and ate them. And here we are, reporting back to you with our meal kit review, comparing cost per serving, taste and ease of preparation.

Download the KCL app and we’ll tell you when we see meal kit coupons and deals!


1. Purple Carrot: A vegan meal kit that even meat-eaters loved!

A woman unpacking the food from a Purple Carrot meal kit box.

Purple Carrot is 100% plant-based, making it a great option for vegan and non-vegan diets.

We think Purple Carrot is the best vegan meal kit around. And considering all the expensive specialty ingredients you need if you’re on a vegan diet, $11.99 per plate may be a good value in that it offers variety without the expense of purchasing full-sized specialty ingredients.

We found the portion sizes to be generous, even allowing for leftovers! Also, the meals were full of flavor. In fact, even the non-vegans in the KCL offices enjoyed Southwest Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Collard Greens. We thought that the texture was the same as traditional macaroni and cheese, despite that it was a vegan cheese — quite a feat.

Fair warning — Purple Carrot recipes are slightly more involved and require a lot of pots, pans and sometimes a blender, so pour a glass of wine and get ready to cook!

Purple Carrot: $11.99 per serving
3 Recipes per week for 2 people: $71.96
Shipping fee: Free
Total: $71.96

TIP: Get $30 off your first order at Purple Carrot as an introductory offer with promo code CARROT30. You will see the offer when you place your order.


2. Blue Apron: The best value for a gourmet meal.

A person pulling carrots out of the cooler bag next to a blue apron meal kit box

Blue Apron is a solid middle-of-the-road option in terms of expense, compared to other meal kits.

You’ll get to try gourmet meals that are easy to prepare and include clear instructions. Even a non-cook in our office nailed the Pimento Cheeseburgers and Roasted Potatoes dish.

We appreciated the plating suggestions from Blue Apron to up our gourmet cooking game. The meals were pretty! One dish was Spiced Salmon and Vegetable Quinoa with Almond-Date topping. We estimated this dish would cost about $17 (plus a tip!) at a restaurant.

One thing to consider with meal kits that offer meat, fish and vegetarian options is that you’ll pay more for meat and fish.

Downside? There’s so much packaging that we could feel the planet crying whenever we unboxed Blue Apron.

Blue Apron: $9.99 per serving
3 Recipes per week for 2 people: $59.94
Shipping fee: Free
Total: $59.94

TIP: Get $20 off your first three boxes — $60 worth of savings — when you place your first order.


3. Home Chef: The cheapest meal kit delivery service we tried.

A person pulling food from a Home Shelf package showing everything individually wrapped and evenly portioned.

If you’re just looking for cheap meal kits, Home Chef has you covered.

Home Chef rolled in at the lowest price for us, which made us more easily satisfied with the food because we’d paid so little for it.

When we went to cook the Prosciutto and Butternut Chowder, we were so happy to find that the butternut squash was already chopped and the garlic was already peeled. The flavor was good and portion sizes were generous. We weren’t hungry at all after the meal.

Menu cards come with a binder so you can make the recipe again if you want, which is a nice feature.

As with Blue Apron, there’s a lot of packaging to get rid of. We were able to recycle a lot of it though!

Also, because you can get a discounted Home Chef gift card from Raise, you’ll save an additional 4% on top of whatever offer you can find at Home Chef.

Home Chef: $6.98 per serving
3 Recipes per week for 2 people: $41.92
Shipping fee: Free
Total: $41.92

TIP: When you place your order, by clicking this link, you’ll see an offer for “Your voucher successfully applied for $60 off.” This is $15 each or your first four boxes.


RELATED: How to Save Money on Groceries


4. Daily Harvest: A great way to increase your fruit and veggie intake.

A woman pulling out the cups of food from a Daily Harvest meal kit box.

If you’re looking for a quick snack and want to avoid as much sugar and preservatives as possible, you’ll like Daily Harvest.

You can choose between smoothies, bowls (harvest, chia, oat), soups and “bites” which are basically little frozen energy balls.

The smoothies and bowls are designed to be eaten for lunch or breakfast, but in reality, while they are delicious, we were often hungry afterward. As such, we are crowning Daily Harvest as the Queen of Healthy Snacking.

Smoothies were creative, using combinations we normally wouldn’t put together but taste good — like the Banana + Greens Smoothie (banana, cucumber, kale, spinach, lemon, wheatgrass).

Plan to add a bit more liquid than recommended because the smoothies were too thick to use a straw.

Harvest bowls tasted great and were convenient to bring into the office and eat. For example, the Sweet Potato and Wild Rice Harvest Bowl had great flavor considering it was only 200 calories!

Daily Harvest: $7.75 per serving
9 cups (meals) per week: $69.75
Shipping fee: Free
Total: $69.75

TIP: Get $25 off your first order — you’ll get access to this offer when you go to place your first order and enter code KRAZYCOUPON.



5. Splendid Spoon: All-natural ingredients, zero preparation or cooking.

A woman unpacking the shakes and meal bowls from a Splendid Spoon meal kit box.

If you’re avoiding sugar and trying to stay low carb, Splendid Spoon offers these options, plus a few Whole30 diet compliant meals.

There’s no preparation or cooking with Splendid Spoon meals. Smoothies, soups and grain bowls are ready-to-eat. So, if you’re prone to forgetting your lunch at home or you pack your day so full that you only leave minutes to eat lunch, this is a fit for you.

Our opinion? The smoothies had a good flavor but the texture was more like juice. Next time, we are going to add ice and blend them to thicken them up.

The bowls and soups were overall pretty good. We loved the all-natural ingredients with no added sugar or sodium. It’s hard to find soups with those qualities unless you make your own (time consuming!), so this was a huge plus.

We felt Splendid Spoon nailed the spice level on the Mexican Tomato Chili and the Red Lentil Dal soup. The Chili could have used more beans and it was way too thick — I’m talking canned pumpkin consistency.

While the soups claim to be enough for two servings, we were hungry after just one serving so plan on two servings really equalling one.

Splendid Spoon: $13 per serving
5 bowls per week: $65
Shipping fee: Free
Total: $65

TIP: You’ll get $35 off your first order when you go to place your first order.


6. Martha & Marley Spoon: Martha Stewart’s stab at a meal kit delivery service.

The ingredient for all the emails in a Martha & Marley Spoon meal kid.

Guys, it’s Martha Stewart and she’s gonna be in your kitchen with all 18,000+ of her recipes.

With Martha & Marley Spoon, you will definitely get high-quality ingredients. We were very impressed by the steak and Russet potato quality for the Spice-Rubbed Steak with Ranch Fries and Wedge Salad meal.

We found the packaging to be neat and we didn’t feel rushed or stressed in timing the different parts of the meals.

Unfortunately, Martha doesn’t cook on a budget.

Plus, the instructions were a little odd for some recipes. For example, the Japanese Beef Yakisoba recipe gave instructions to stir fry the mushrooms before the snap peas, resulting in broken up and tiny mushrooms.

We did what the recipe instructed because we wanted to see if it would work out, but vegetables were consistently mushy. Also, flavors were weak — we had to add our own sauces and spices to the meals to make them taste stronger.

Martha & Marley Spoon gets high marks for quality ingredients but considering the cost, we were kind of disappointed in the flavor.

Martha & Marley Spoon: $10.49 per serving
3 Recipes per week for 2 people: $53.94
Shipping fee: $8.99
Total: $62.93
TIP: Get $20 off when you go to place your first order.



7. Freshly: Best for Non-Cooks

A woman showing the contents of the packages containing Freshly microwavable meals.

With Freshly, you don’t cook. You’ll receive oven-ready dishes that you just have to heat.

Freshly offers generous portions of meat and has an “upscale pub food” feel with recipes you don’t see every day like Super Pesto and Sausage Fusilli, or Buffalo Chicken with Loaded Cauliflower. But honestly, we found it to be hit and miss — one meal was great and another was a little mushy and overcooked (even when we followed the cooking instructions).

Again, you don’t have to prepare or cook these meals beyond putting them in the oven, so you have to weigh that huge benefit!

Freshly dinners feed one adult so factor that in when you place your order. The “four meals a week” option only covers one person.

Freshly: $11.50 per serving
4 Recipes per week for 1 person: $46
Shipping fee: Free
Total: $46
TIP: Use the promo code SPRING40 to save $20 off your first two orders.

RELATED: Your Ultimate Guide to DoorDash Coupons and How to Use Them



Cost of Meal Kit services we didn’t personally order and review.

HelloFresh: $10.16 per serving
3 Recipes per week for 2 people: $53.94
Shipping fee: $6.99
Total: $60.93
Every Plate: $6.48 per serving
3 Recipes per week for 2 people: $29.94
Shipping fee: $8.99
Total: $38.93
Sun Basket: $13.16 per serving
3 Recipes per week for 2 people: $71.94
Shipping fee: $6.99 (first box ships free)
Total: $78.93
Gobble: $13.16 per serving
3 Recipes per week for 2 people: $71.94
Shipping fee: $6.99 (first box ships free)
Total: $78.93


Here are the related articles we mentioned:

How to Save Money on Groceries

Your Ultimate Guide to DoorDash Coupons and How to Use Them


UP NEXT: Find out how to save money every time you shop!

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