Providing three meals a day for your family is a lot of work. It’s time-consuming, costly, and labor-intensive. That’s why I was thrilled when I heard about food delivery services that ship fresh ingredients to your doorstep with all the instructions you need to make tasty meals in a short amount of time.
As a mom myself, I often make at least three trips to the grocery store per week. Limited time to schedule forces me to visit the store for almost every meal my family has to eat. On days when there’s no time to shop and prepare food, I just order delivery from restaurants. Having a picky 2-year-old and a foodie husband who hates eating the same thing twice in a row makes things even harder.
To see if saving time, money, and hassle was possible, I tested various meal delivery services. Here are the top delivery service kits I found for moms and how they stack up when it comes to cost, meal experience, and suitability for families.
Best Meal Delivery Services for Busy Moms
1. Blue Apron
- Price Per Serving: $8.74 to $9.99
- Shipping Cost: Free
- Cooking Time: 35 to 45 minutes
- Menu Plans: Two-Person; Family
- Special Note: Blue Apron also offers wine delivery services and wine pairings with each meal.
I tried four different family plan recipes from Blue Apron. It was the first food delivery kit that arrived at my doorstep, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I found the service to be a great way to introduce different foods to my family. And my kids loved looking at the photos for each recipe as I explained the instructions to them, making the experience an interactive one for the whole family.
Between running errands and taking my son to classes, scheduling time to stay at home to receive packages can be tricky. Luckily, all the food delivery services just dropped the boxes off by the front door and didn’t require a signature upon receipt.
The four meals sent by Blue Apron arrived in two large boxes, each insulated and packed with ice to preserve the produce. The ice packs and meat were strategically placed on the bottom of the box, while the fresh produce and sauces were on top. Plastic airbags filled the empty space inside the box to prevent the ingredients from moving around in transit. This allowed the vegetables and cheese to remain fresh and cool and the meats to remain cold during shipping.
Each meal came with instructions, the necessary ingredients, suggested cooking times, and recommended wine pairings. The instructions were relatively easy to understand and follow, and the meals were delicious, making them a hit with my family.
One cumbersome task I disliked was having to grate an entire apple for one recipe and an entire block of cheese for another. Grating is time-consuming, and a grater isn’t the safest tool to have around children, so I found myself wishing these ingredients had come already grated.
- Customer Service Was Impressive. I found that Blue Apron had by far the best customer service of the services I tested. Due to a massive snowstorm, my delivery was rescheduled and then delayed. Customer service was communicative the entire process and adamant about sending a new box immediately if the ingredients were not still fresh when they arrive.
- Meals Had Plenty of Variety. I received a variety of meals, each unique from the other: Pork Chops & Miso Butter, Vegetable Chili & Baked Sweet Potatoes, Verjus-Braised Chicken, and Salmon Piccata. Recipes incorporated different meats, starches, and distinctive flavors, preventing redundancy.
- Ingredients Were High-Quality. Our Blue Apron meals turned out delicious. The family favorite was the Salmon Piccata.
- Some Cooking Tasks Were Difficult. As mentioned earlier, grating was time-consuming and difficult for me to do with a toddler around.
- There Was Plenty of Waste. As with other services on this list, the boxes, ice packs, insulation, and wrappers take up a lot of space. It wasn’t a big deal, but it was a nuisance since my kitchen area isn’t that large. It could also be a turnoff if you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint.
- Price Per Serving: $8.74 to $9.99
- Shipping Cost: Free
- Cooking Time: 35 to 45 minutes
- Menu Plans: Classic; Veggie; Family Plan
- Special Note: HelloFresh sends a free apron with your first delivery.
HelloFresh sent me three Family Plan recipes. In many ways, I found HelloFresh comparable to Blue Apron.
The meal kits arrived in a large box, packed with ice packs and wrapped with insulation. This was comparable to other services and kept the food fresh and safe.
Each meal came with a recipe card with photos along with step-by-step instructions. They even noted the steps where children can assist with the cooking. I found the meals to be some of the easier dishes to whip up from all the food delivery services.
- Meals Provided a Variety of Tastes and Experiences. The meals I received were Hearty Beef Stew Over Barley, Chicken Pineapple Tacos, and a One-Pot Sausage and Tortellini Soup. I appreciated that each meal provided a different eating experience: The tacos were eaten by hand, the soup slurped from the bowl or with a spoon, and the stew eaten with a fork. Different eating methods stimulate sensors in a child’s brain and help develop fine motor skills, and it doesn’t hurt to encourage learning even during mealtime.
- Both the Meals and the Preparation Were Kid-Friendly. HelloFresh’s meals were some of the easier dishes to whip up and the most liked by my son. That’s mainly because the menu consisted of universally simple and beloved dishes like stew and tacos. Either way, they were nutritious meals that left my family happily fed, which is all a mom can ask for in a meal.
- There Was Plenty of Waste. Like other food services, HelloFresh’s packaging took up a lot of room in my small kitchen.
3. Green Chef
- Price Per Serving: $10.49 to $12.99
- Shipping Cost: $9
- Cooking Time: 50 minutes
- Menu Plans: Omnivore; Carnivore; Gluten-Free; Vegan; Paleo, Vegetarian; Two-Person; Family
- Special Note: Every ingredient Green Chef provides is organic.
Green Chef doesn’t skimp on quality or taste. Knowing that all the ingredients were organic and from local farms alleviated any concern I might have had about what I was feeding my family.
Like other services, Green Chef’s ingredients arrived in a large box packed with ice and insulation to preserve the fresh ingredients. I had no issues with the well-designed packaging and presentation.
Instruction cards with photos of each step came with the ingredients. Although Green Chef’s meals were steeper in price and required more cooking techniques, the taste was more sophisticated and epicurean. My husband agreed.
The only difficulty I had with Green Chef was that it took an hour to prepare each meal, and the palette was a little too sophisticated for my 2-year-old son. He didn’t appreciate the different flavors on his plate, but going forward, I would modify his portion to appease him.
- Ingredients Are All Organic (And Relatively Affordable). Because all of its ingredients are organic, Green Chef is at a higher price point than Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. However, according to their website, cooking a recipe with Green Chef is over 46% cheaper, on average, than shopping at Whole Foods across several cities. This includes shipping costs. Customers are able to spend less (and reduce food waste) by only receiving exactly the amount of ingredients they need per meal and no more.
- Meals Were Interesting and Delicious. Green Chef won our taste test across the board. We tried the Hawaiian Fried Rice and the Chicken Garbanzo Bowl, and the flavors were rich and delightful.
- Price Is Higher Than the Competition. Green Chef’s price is justifiable for its niche. But for those on a tight budget, Blue Apron or Hello Fresh may be a more economical choice.
- Required Cooking Times Are Longer. Green Chef meals take an hour to prepare and plate. They don’t require you to do anything more difficult than the other companies’ meals, but even 15 extra minutes is a long time for a busy mom. Many ingredients need to be cooked individually or differently, which requires more steps compared to other meal services that mostly require only a pot or pan. That said, the extra time pays off in the form of enhanced flavor.
- Price Per Serving: $11.99
- Shipping Cost: $6.99
- Cooking Time: 15 minutes
- Menu Plans: Classic; Lean & Clean
- Special Notes: Gobble currently has a special offer for new customers. Gobble does not ship to Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, or South Dakota.
Gobble offers two- and four-person plans, and its menu options are flexible.
Like other services, Gobble’s ingredients arrived in a large box packed with ice and insulation to preserve the fresh ingredients. I had no issues with the well-designed packaging and presentation.
Gobble offers quick meals that take only 15 minutes to cook. Because the items come prepped and portioned, I didn’t have to waste time slicing and dicing them. It was easy to prepare without sacrificing gourmet flavor.
- Meal Prep Requires No Measuring or Cutting. There was no need to wash extra kitchen utensils like knives and cutting boards. The ingredients came preportioned and sliced for quick meal prep.
- Categories Make It Easy to Customize Your Menu. Gobble offers menu options like “kid-friendly,” “lean and clean,” and “bestseller,” which take out the guesswork when choosing your weekly menu for your family.
- Packaging Is Recyclable. Every part of the packaging is recyclable, which is a nice bonus for eco-conscious customers.
- Not Available in All States. As of now, Gobble doesn’t ship to five states in the U.S.
- Costs a Bit More Than Some Competitors. Gobble isn’t the cheapest option on this list. However, its menu has more international offerings, which could make it worth the price for some families.
6. Sun Basket
- Price Per Serving: $10.99
- Shipping Cost: $6.99
- Cooking Time: 15 to 45 minutes
- Menu Plans: Paleo; Lean and Clean; Gluten-Free; Pescatarian; Vegetarian; Quick and Easy; Mediterranean; Chef’s Choice; Diabetes-Friendly; Carb-Conscious
- Special Notes: Sun Basket is offering free shipping on the first order for new customers. It does not ship to Alaska or Hawaii.
Sun Basket offers extensive meal options like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron.
The items from Sun Basket came in a large box with cold packs to ensure freshness.
Sun Basket’s menu options cover a wide variety of dietary needs. The fish and soup options were my family’s favorites from the menu.
- Offers Lots of Prep and Cook Time Options. You can choose “classic” meals, which require prepping and cooking, “speedy” meals that come prepped and sliced, or “oven-ready” meals for busy days.
- Also Offers Groceries. Sun Basket offers grocery items, including sausage, steak, pork ribs, yogurt, smoothies, snack bars, and pasta. At $6.99 for shipping, ordering from Sun Basket is a great option if you can’t make it to the supermarket.
- Includes Breakfast Options. Most other meal kits don’t have breakfast options, but Sun Basket does.
- Flavor Isn’t Terribly Exciting. Overall, there was nothing bad about any of the menu options. However, we did find ourselves reaching for the sauces and spices we had in the house to season our meals. Families seeking more excitement may not love these recipes.
7. Martha & Marley Spoon
- Price Per Serving: $6.40
- Shipping Cost: $8.99
- Cooking Time: 30 minutes
- Menu Plans: Low-Carb; No-Dairy; Family-Friendly; Vegan
- Special Note: Martha & Marley Spoon ships worldwide.
Martha Stewart’s Martha & Marley Spoon offers 22 recipes each week, with menu options available four weeks in advance. All options take only six steps to make.
Everything from the order came in a neatly packed box with proper insulation and cold packs.
The steps were simple and easy to follow without sacrificing taste. Menu options like Crispy Chicken Curry Rolls and Black Bean Caramel Chicken seemed intimidating to me at first, but leave it to Martha Stewart to help make me look like a domesticated goddess.
- There Are Gourmet Menu Options. More international menu options allowed us to take a trip around the globe without leaving the house.
- Also Offers Groceries. As with Sun Basket, you can order a few groceries from this service, albeit a much more limited selection. Martha & Marley Spoon offers fish, meat, poultry, and dessert options you can order on the side of your meals.
- Shipping Is on the Pricey Side. Like Green Chef, Martha & Marley Spoon meals cost about $9 to ship, more than the others on this list. But considering the elevated flavors of these meals, I found the extra few dollars to be worth it.
The meal kits listed here are all great options to save time and money and serve nutritious meals for your family. In addition to the ease and convenience they provide, many offer options that are healthy for both you and the earth by establishing long-term relationships with local, ethical farms.
Have you tried any meal delivery services? Which are your favorites and why?