Fast, zero prep
Big on flavor
Can pair with grocery order
Limited service areas
Very few meals
No dietary accommodation
Amazon Meal Kit
Amazon is widely known as the place where you can find almost anything and get it quickly. This reputation certainly extends to its grocery arm, Amazon Fresh, which can have groceries at your door in as little as 2 hours. Bolstered by its acquisition of Whole Foods, Amazon now seems to have quite a handle on the grocery game, but does Amazon’s dominance extend to meal kits? Available only to Amazon Prime members who are approved to shop through Amazon Fresh, Amazon Meal Kits deliver prepped ingredients for one-pan meals that come together in 10 minutes or less—with no subscription commitment.
We tracked them down and tested five kits to find out if Amazon’s reputation for instant gratification also extends to getting dinner on the table.
How It Works: Tough to Find
While we love that you have the ability to order Amazon Meal Kits without being tied down to a subscription service, they were quite difficult to locate. These kits are only available to those who live in an area serviced by Amazon Fresh and then they are limited additionally beyond that. Don’t be fooled by ads for them on your Amazon Fresh landing page; they may not end up in your shopping cart.
To begin, you need an Amazon account and you must also be a Prime member, which is an additional cost. Once your membership is set up, you have to request an invitation to shop Amazon Fresh and approvals take one to two weeks. Amazon Fresh currently delivers to residences in Las Vegas, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Houston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. Once you’re approved to shop Fresh, you can search for the kits under the “Amazon Kitchen” brand.
The kits are pre-made and are purchased just like you would other groceries, so there is really no customization or accommodation available for specialty diets or other needs.
The kits are pre-made and are purchased just like you would other groceries, so there is really no customization or accommodation available for specialty diets or other needs. The kits themselves are formulaic, composed of raw, pre-prepped ingredients, packaged sauces, microwaveable starches, and come in portions of two.
We were pleased to see that customers can use their SNAP EBT benefits on Amazon Prime, and they can do so without having to pay for a Prime membership. This is not standard across the meal kit industry, as regulations wouldn’t allow it, but Amazon is part of a pilot program with online grocery retailers. Amazon also offers free shipping costs on these deliveries that are over $35 or $50, depending on your delivery area.
Choosing Meals: Limited Options
Meal selection is very simple for these kits: You simply shop for them as you would any other grocery item on Amazon Fresh. We only had six to choose from. As far as specialty diets, of the kits we saw, only one was vegetarian. The rest had chicken as the protein, and almost all contained a variety of allergens. You can view the nutrition, recipes, ingredient, and allergen information prior to adding them to your cart so you can make an informed decision.
In addition to the kits, you can add groceries and other products like cleaning supplies and home goods to your cart as well. As you shop, Amazon keeps your shopping cart for Fresh separate from other Amazon purchases you make, which we found helpful.
The delivery day and time is your choice but it's typically available for same-day or within a day or two of ordering. Changes to orders can be made up until your shopper begins filling your order, and tipping (which is optional) is available until 24 hours after your order is delivered. Delivery can be “unattended,” if you prefer to have the food left outside your home, or you can opt for in-garage delivery.
If you’re not interested in delivery, you can arrange for pickup at your Amazon Fresh location. Just be sure to select this option as you begin to shop, as this can change product availability.
What We Made
We selected five out of the six meal kits available. Each kit makes two servings, so we ended up with a total of 10 portions.
- Red curry tofu, zucchini, water chestnuts, & baby corn
- Chicken pad Thai, carrots & peanuts
- Chicken fajita bowl, charred corn & queso
- Kung pao chicken, zucchini & peanuts
- Butter chicken curry, cauliflower & peas
Support Materials: Just the Packaging
Recipes and nutrition information were both available on the package, and while no additional materials were included, they wouldn’t really be needed. If the packages had been damaged or otherwise unreadable, the website includes photos of all sides of the packaging so recipes could be viewed there as well.
Packaging: Reasonable for Product, Excessive for Delivery
Our Amazon Fresh order came in three separate paper bags, each with an insulated inner bag, but no cooling elements were included. In fairness, we did opt for pickup rather than delivery, which could have impacted the outer packaging.
Each individual meal kit is in a rigid plastic container with several compartments, covered by a plastic film. Pre-chopped ingredients fit into each compartment, as well as several plastic bags inside containing ingredients like sauces and other toppings. Around each container was a paper/cardboard wrap that was printed with branding, nutritional information, and recipes.
The larger rigid plastic containers were recyclable, however, we weren’t able to recycle the insulated bags or the flexible plastics within the kits themselves. Overall, it would have been more efficient to put them in a single box with insulation instead of separate bags. Other than that, the packaging did not feel excessive.
The Cooking Process: Fast and Easy
The meals were advertised as needing one pan and ready in 10 minutes or less. Amazon delivered on both counts. Raw ingredients were all pre-chopped and ready to be cooked up in their prepared sauces, so things came together in a flash. Recipes did include microwaveable starch, rice, or noodles, but we’ll still consider these to be a one-pan meal.
The cooking instructions were clear, concise, and accurate, and these would definitely be doable for a beginner or someone with the most minimal of kitchen spaces.
Flavor, Freshness, and Quality: Surprisingly Good
Overall, the quality and freshness of the ingredients were impressive, especially for being pre-cut and prepped in the container. Flavors were also great across the board, with no adjustments or doctoring needed for the meal to be perfectly enjoyable. One or two items were a bit on the salty side, but this is to be expected with prepared sauces.
Each meal available had a distinct flavor profile, with an emphasis on Asian and Indian flavors, and the recipe instructions allowed for vegetables to retain some texture with cooking. The only improvements we would suggest would be to perhaps increase the number of vegetables with each kit.
Nutritional Value: Not for Specialty Diets
These Amazon kits are not advertised as health-promoting, nor are they designed to be customizable for dietary needs.
The nutrition profiles for each of the meal kits available were pretty similar in terms of calorie content and were fairly balanced. They ranged from about 450-600 calories per serving, but there was a wider range for sodium levels with some landing on the higher side (the chicken fajita bowl contained 2020 milligrams). Protein content was similar across the board as nearly all the kits used the same chicken breast cuts, and as expected the vegetarian meal was slightly lower in this category, but there was still a solid amount of protein (7 grams) in the tofu.
Beyond that, we felt that portions were well-sized; if you're looking to enhance the nutritional content without impacting flavor or changing ingredients, the simplest option might be to increase the proportion of vegetables.
Amazon Fresh Is Good For
If you’re already ordering from Amazon Fresh or planning to start doing so, we definitely recommend giving these kits a try. They would make a great addition to a weekly grocery order and as an occasional easy dinner to throw into the mix.
Amazon Fresh Is Not Good For
If you’re looking for a standard weekly meal kit subscription service or if you have specialized dietary needs, this is not the kit for you.
Add-ons: Groceries Galore
While there are no add-ons and upgrades directly related to the meal kits themselves, you have a wide array of options to order from Amazon Fresh. We could see ordering additional vegetables to bulk up one of these meals, or snagging an appetizer or dessert to enjoy alongside. The entire Amazon Fresh inventory is at your fingertips.
Customer Service: Fast, but Ineffective
We reached out to customer service a few times to try to locate these meal kits, as we initially had trouble finding them. We started out with the chat bot, which almost immediately switched us over to a live chat with a person. That representative offered a phone call, which at least got us to where we needed to be faster.
We do recommend that with any attempt to contact customer service about this, immediately ask for someone specifically on the Amazon Fresh team. We wouldn’t necessarily blame the representatives as they don’t seem to have the ability to search for products across locations, but ultimately they were not able to help us at all with our issue and we were left to figure things out on our own.
Making Changes and Canceling: Done Easily Online
Consistent with the typical Amazon experience, making changes is simple and can be done without interacting with customer support. Just log in and make your changes, as long as it’s prior to when your shopper begins fulfilling your order.
Meals themselves are not editable, but you can alter what items you’ve ordered overall. Since there is no subscription service for the meal kits, there's no need to cancel anything once your order is complete.
The Competition: Amazon Meal Kit vs. Gobble
Amazon and Gobble both offer meal kits that come together with minimal prep work in the shortest of time frames. Amazon’s kits are truly the better tasting of the two, and they are true to their 10-minutes-or-less, one-pot standard. Gobble was a bit hit-or-miss on flavor, and some of its items took longer to execute than expected.
Unfortunately, the kits from Amazon are not as widely available as Gobble's are, which delivers to nearly all 50 states. Gobble also has more options in its weekly rotation and provides the ease of a subscription experience.
If you’re an Amazon Fresh customer and you see Amazon Meal Kits, give them a try. They’re a tasty, easy option that could substitute for takeout, and you know they’ll be at your door in a flash. We just wish there were more of them and available across more ZIP codes.
We spent numerous hours looking through 48 meal delivery services’ websites, ordered meals and cooked them at home, photographed the process, spoke with customer service representatives from the companies, filled out detailed surveys about each company and their meals, and wrote in-depth reviews and comparison articles. Our expert panel includes dieticians, chefs, and longtime food writers. The one thing they all have in common is their love and knowledge of food.
The criteria we used to evaluate each company included:
- The ordering process
- Meal selection
- Packaging and support materials
- The cooking process
- The flavor, freshness, and quality of each meal and ingredient
- Nutritional information
- Customer service
- Product Name Amazon Meal Kit
- Lowest Price per Serving $4.99
- Number of Diets Served 2
- Number of Recipes 6
- Delivery Area 18 cities
- Serving Sizes Available 2