What surprised us after 30 hours of unboxing Meal Kits

After reviewing 13 meal kits like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Sun Basket, Marley Spoon — FOMOPOP makes its picks.

For the past month, the FOMOPOP team spent 30+ hours ordering, unboxing, unwrapping, chopping, cooking, eating, and cleaning over a dozen meal kit delivery services.

We had a range of “chefs” try out the kits — from those who spent their lives in restaurants, to those who had never made more than Rice Krispies Treats.

Our Suprising Results

At the very outset, we thought we were going to easily say that one kit was by far and away the best — that didn’t happen.

The Similarities

We found that 80% of the meal kits were similar across the following features.

Ordering & Delivery

  • First User Discount: Discounted your first meal kit to try the service.
  • Pricing: Priced under $12.99/portion per week and incentivized with free shipping when 3 meals for 2 people.
  • Meal Variety: Most had 6–15 meals to choose from each week.
  • Fast Shipping: Shipped your meal kit for free within a week of sign-up.
  • Excessive Packing Materials: Came in a cardboard shipping box with disposable ice pack, insulation, and ingredients seperated by recipe in a paper or plastic bag.

Cooking

  • Prep Time: Each meal took 30–45 minutes to make and another 5–10 minutes to cleanup.
  • Kitchen Gear: Required you to have salt, pepper, and cooking oil on hand, as well as frying pan, sheet pan, knife, and cutting board.
  • Detailed Recipe Cards: Included easy-to-follow instructions with most including pictures of each step.
  • Nutritional Detail: Provided some level of nutrition information (at least calorie counts) on the recipe cards or their website.

Food

  • Tastiness: Most of the meals were adequate, but very few blew us away.
  • Portion Size: Adequate portion size for two people (but no leftovers).

Customer Service

  • Cancellation: All made it easy to cancel either via their website or email, so long as you did it 5–7 days before your next box shipped.

Our Picks

What we found was that there wasn’t a single meal kit that stood out as best across all categories. Rather than trying to pick a single winner — we wanted to call out which kit is right for certain types of people.

For the our full comparison, reviews on each meal kit, photos, and discount codes for your first kit — check out the full review at FOMOPOP.

Grilled Spice-Rubbed Steak with Onion, Pita & Tomato Salad from Marley Spoon

Best Value — Marley Spoon

This is for those that want the largest portion of food for the price.

While Blue Apron provided high-quality unique ingredients (things like rhubarb) at the lowest price point ($9.99/serving) — the recipes generally took 10–15 minutes more to make and had an extra pan or two to clean up.

At the same price point, you could subscribe to HelloFresh and get similar quality meals, with less prep and cleanup.

But, when we tested Marley Spoon (endorsed by Martha Stewart) — we found portions were ~30% larger, while only costing an additional $0.25/meal.

Honey-Hoisin Glazed Chicken from Gobble only took about 20 minutes

Quickest to Make — Gobble

This is for those that want the quickest time from box to table with minimal cleanup.

Like most people, if we were going to do this on a nightly basis — being able to get from the fridge to the table quickly and easily was important. We also wanted to ensure that there was minimal cleanup.

Three services had their ingredients mostly prepped — Gobble, FreshRealm, and Terra’s Kitchen. We dinged Terra’s Kitchen because even though ingredients were partially prepped, as their recipes called for a little more work like taking halved brussels sprouts and chopping them into quarters. This meant extra work prepping and then cleaning a knife & cutting board.

While the tastiness of Gobble was nothing to write home about, they were by far the easiest to prep, cook, and cleanup. They claim box to table in under 10 minutes, but it was closer to 20–25 minutes depending on the recipe.

Most Diet Friendly — Sun Basket

This is for those who need meals for a specific diet whether it’s Paleo, Gluten-Free, or Vegan.

A lot of the well-known kits — Blue Apron, Plated, Marley Spoon, Gobble — will work for vegetarians, but they won’t if you have a specific diet like Paleo, Gluten-Free, or Vegan. Fortunately, Sun Basket, Green Chef, Terra’s Kitchen, and Purple Carrot will.

For Paleo eaters — we found Sun Basket’s recipes to be tastier with higher quality ingredients than the others and about $10/week cheaper than the other Paleo options (even after factoring in their $6/box shipping charge).

For Vegan eaters — you really have Green Chef or Purple Carrot to choose from. The taste of Green Chef’s food was way better than Purple Carrot. This was consistent with the reviews of recipes on Purple Carrot’s website.

If you’re vegetarian — since most of the other services can fit your diet, we would recommend choosing based on another criteria like value, prep time, or recipe variety.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken with Cherry Tomato Sauce and Cous Cous from Plated

Most Impressive Food — Plated

This is for those who want unique recipes that will “wow” your date.

Part of the allure of meal kits is that they provide entertainment — it’s basically a cooking class at home. We were amazed by the recipes and unique ingredients from Plated — things like Cheesy Beef Empanadas and Pork Tonkatsu.

It was the only kit where we felt that we were actually learning to cook. With that being said, the recipes generally took over an hour to make (even when they said 30–40 minutes). While we wouldn’t recommend this on a nightly basis, this is a fun kit to make on weekend and to impress a date.

Chef’d had over 600 options of meals to choose

Best Variety — Chef’d

This is for those who want hundreds of options with the ability to get a meal kit as a one-off order.

Most meal kit services give you the option of 6–15 meals every week. FreshRealm and Terra’s Kitchen gave nearly 100, but the standout was Chef’d which had nearly 600 meal options to choose from.

The other thing we liked about Chef’d was that it was kind of like Amazon. You could order meals individually or save 10–15% if you subscribe to weekly plan.

Terra’s Kitchen uses a reusable vessel with plastic “bento box” containers

Most Eco-Friendly — Terra’s Kitchen

This is for those who want an eco-friendly experience with a reusable shipping vessel.

Most of the kits come in cardboard boxes with insulation, disposable ice packs, and plastic/paper bags. While most of this can be recycled, it does feel very wasteful. We also spent about 10 minutes with every kit prepping it to be recycled (breaking down boxes, emptying ice packs, etc.).

Both FreshRealm and Terra’s Kitchen use a reusuable vessel (which is designed by FreshRealm). It’s like a portable refrigerator with resuauble ice packs and ingredients packed in little plastic bento boxes. When you’re done with it, you rip off the packing label to reveal a pre-paid label. Just leave the box at your doorstep and they will pick it up the next day.

We also loved the recyclable plastic bento boxes because it also gave us little containers to make sauce or season ingredients without having to use another bowl that we would end up needing to wash.

The one downside is that the resubable vessel is that it’s heavy — about 30 lbs. This was was almost twice as heavy as all the other meal kits we tested. If you have to walk up a bunch of stairs, you’re either gonna get a great workout or you should unpack the ingredients in a bag first.

Final Thoughts

The great thing about all the competition across meal kit delivery services is that it’s extremely inexpensive to try them for yourself. While boxes normally cost about $60–70 on an ongoing basis, you can try a week for about $30-45.

For more details about each meal kit and promo codes to get a discount on your first order — check out our full review at FOMOPOP.com.

If you’ve tried a meal kit, we’d love to here your thoughts in the comments below.

Also, please show us some love by clicking on the ♥︎ so others can also find out which is the right meal kit for them.

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