Best Prepared Meal Delivery Services

These heat-and-heat options are worth trying

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Eating vegan bowl with edamame beans, broccoli, avocado, beetroot, hummus and nuts

Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

Prepared meal delivery services are a boon for anyone who doesn't have the time, inclination, or skills to cook, but wants to eat healthy. Sure, you can always turn to fast food, restaurant takeout, or the prepared foods available at supermarkets when you don’t feel like cooking, but those options make it hard to keep things like unhealthy fats and sodium levels in check. Prepared meal delivery services fill the niche for fast, ready-to-heat meals that are as nutritious as something you’d cook from scratch at home.

The number of companies offering prepared meals delivered right to your door seems to grow every year. Even companies that specialize in meal kits are getting in on the prepared meal action. And it seems there’s a service for every type of dietary need and preference. Some are designed for vegans, serious carnivores, or weight loss, while others are perfect for special occasion indulgences. We evaluated them all to find out which companies offered the best value, services, and selection. Keep reading to find out our top picks.

Best Prepared Meal Delivery Services of 2021

Best Overall: Freshly

Freshly

Freshly

Why We Chose It: With more than two dozen meal choices each week, all packed with vegetables and naturally gluten-free, Freshly makes it easy to eat healthy; and it’s the cheapest of the bunch too.

What We Like
  • Lots of variety

  • Emphasis on vegetables and nutrition

  • Accommodates some dietary restrictions

  • Helps with weight loss goals

  • Fresh meals reheat faster than frozen

  • Lowest priced meals and low shipping rate

What We Don’t Like
  • Subscription only

  • No other meal options besides dinner

  • Small orders can be expensive

  • Meals aren’t customizable

Freshly is a great option for those who want to eat healthy and don’t have time to shop and cook. It’s a subscription-based service of fresh, not frozen, single-serving entrees that take just a few minutes to reheat in the microwave. The subscription format is great for those who want to just “set it and forget it.” But you can skip or cancel the service at any time with about a week’s notice. Customer service is very responsive too.

The regular menu consists of about 30 fresh dishes that are all gluten-free—which is super helpful for those who want to reduce their intake of simple carbs like bread and pasta. The meals average 500 calories and 30 grams of protein, and Freshly is intentional about keeping sugars to a minimum and increasing the nutrient-density instead, whether that means adding cauliflower in the mashed potatoes or nut butters to sauces. The 10 Freshly Fit meals, which can be added to a regular Freshly subscription or subscribed to on their own, are even more carb-conscious.

Freshly’s minimum subscription of four meals per week works best for those who like to cook or eat out occasionally, or maybe just want the meals to take to work for lunch. But it’s important to note that the cost per meal gets far cheaper the more meals you order ($8.49 each for 12 meals vs. $11.49 for four meals). Shipping is relatively inexpensive at about $5.99.

Best for Plant-Based Eating: Veestro

Veestro

Veestro

Why We Chose It: Veestro’s large selection of plant-based meals give lots of options to vegans and vegetarians who don’t want to cook.

What We Like
  • Large menu selection

  • Some breakfast and lunch options

  • Weight loss plan

  • Compostable trays

  • Mostly organic ingredients

What We Don’t Like
  • Not vegetable heavy

  • Menu lacks creativity

  • 10 meal minimum order

If you lack the time and inclination to cook, it can be a struggle to get enough protein while following a completely plant-based diet. You can’t just slap a pork chop in a skillet and call it good. But Veestro offers almost four dozen single-serving frozen entrees with total grams of protein in the double digits, plus about eight breakfast options. Proteins come in the form of beans and legumes, tofu, or faux chicken (no seitan or tempeh).

The dishes come frozen in compostable trays or BPA-free plastic pouches, and are geared toward those who want vegan replacements for popular comfort foods—think pizzas, casseroles, empanadas, and noodles. Although that means there’s usually a carb component to these dishes, the good news is the lineup has variety and doesn’t rely too heavily on the grain bowl format like some vegan meal services.

Although you can order your Veestro meals as a one-time purchase of 10, 20, or 30 frozen meals with a shipping fee of $9.99, you’ll get free shipping and save 10 percent when subscribing to have them delivered every week, every two weeks, or every four weeks. Prices start at $11.70 per meal for 10 meals and go down to $9.90 per meal for 30 meals. Subscriptions can be changed or canceled at any time. There’s also a Weight Loss plan that provides three meals per day for either five or seven days. The meals average 1,200 total calories per day and there’s a gluten-free option.

Best for High-Protein Diets: Factor

Factor

Factor

Why We Chose It: Factor’s lineup of nutrient-dense, gluten-free, responsibly sourced meals is specifically geared toward active people on narrow diets aimed at losing fat and gaining muscle.

What We Like
  • Breakfast, snack, and juice options

  • Complementary consultation with registered dietician

  • Weekly rotating menu

  • Free shipping

What We Don’t Like
  • Subscription only

  • Not many vegetarian options

Narrow diets like keto are popular among those who want to lose fat and gain or keep muscle, which is why they’re so popular among athletes, weightlifters, and people who do CrossFit. For them, simply eating low-carb meals just isn’t enough. They need a lot of protein and healthy fats too. Factor’s fresh (not frozen) single-serving meals are made for active folks with nutrient-packed, protein-rich meals made with organic produce and pasture-raised meats free of hormones, GMOs, and antibiotics.

The menu rotates weekly, with about 21 meals including some breakfast options. There are a bunch of smart add-ons available, like juices, wellness shots, soups, energy balls, and extra proteins (cooked salmon fillets or chicken breasts). There are usually about nine specifically keto meals each week like Peruvian Shrimp bowls with roasted red pepper and cauliflower “grits.” But most of the meals are low-carb and high-protein, and all are gluten-free. Instead of pasta, bread, or wheat grains, dishes have veggie purees, shirataki noodles, or grains like quinoa and brown rice.

Factor is a subscription service offering plans of four, six, eight, 12, and 18 meals per week. The price per meal reduces from $15 to $11 the more meals you get, and shipping is free. Subscribers get a complimentary 20-minute consultation with a registered dietitian, or you can pay extra for a wellness coaching package. You can choose your meals or let the service automatically send you their picks. Pause or cancel anytime, or even turn off the subscription and order on demand.

Most Versatile: Sunbasket

Sunbasket

Sunbasket

Why We Chose It: The company’s new Fresh and Ready meals are grounded in local, organic ingredients, often have a fresh component, and the lineup is complemented by a long list of versatile add-ons for every meal of the day.

What We Like
  • Long list of add-ons

  • Organic, locally sourced ingredients

  • Menu rotates weekly

  • Fresh components

What We Don’t Like
  • Selection of prepared meals is relatively small

  • Meals serve two

  • Shipping isn’t free

Sunbasket is one of the top meal kit delivery services for a reason. Its meals emphasize nutrition and sustainable sourcing, they are chef-driven and creative, and they offer customizable proteins. But most of all, they’re truly delicious. The kits are ideal for those who want to save time meal planning and shopping and get out of their dinnertime rut. Sunbasket has a weekly rotation of nine ready-to-heat meals for those who really don’t have time to cook. You can even mix and match your subscription if you want some kits and some ready-to-heat meals.

Unlike most prepared meal delivery services, Sunbasket’s meals serve two instead of one. This is great for those who want leftovers or who want to share a meal with their partner, but it could be a downside for those who don’t. Some customers of other services complain that prepared meals are glorified frozen TV dinners, but Sunbasket’s meals sometimes have a fresh component, like a slaw, salad or tortillas to heat up separately, which makes these meals feel more like a healthy version of restaurant takeout.

One of the best things about Sunbasket is the wide range of add-ons for stocking the fridge and pantry, like ready-to-heat breakfasts, lunches, grain bowls, salads, snack bars and juices, breads, fresh pasta, sauces and dips, even a wide range of extra proteins like crab cakes, sustainably caught fish, marinated meats, and plant-based chick’n.

The ready-to-heat meals cost $8.99 per serving when ordering four or more meals or $11.99 per serving if ordering just two meals. Shipping costs $7.99.

Best for Gift Giving: Home Bistro

Home Bistro

Home Bistro

Why We Chose It: Super-premium, celebrity chef-designed gourmet meals are ideal for special occasions or giving as a gift.

What We Like
  • No subscription necessary

  • Gourmet, high-end meals

  • Great for gift giving

  • Accommodates dietary restrictions

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

  • Shipping is pricey

Home Bistro is perfect for those who want a restaurant-style meal at home. The meals, though familiar, are far from the usual weeknight fare, with best-sellers that include Mediterranean Chicken with Artichoke Sauce, Za’atar Oven Fries, and Morrocan Ratatouille; Lemon-Caper Piccata Steak with Roasted Garlic Marbled Potatoes and Tunisian Cauliflower Gratin; and Chianti Braised Short Ribs with Roasted Garlic Marble Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts. Some are even designed by celebrity chef Cat Cora. Of course, these gourmet meals have a price tag to match—most cost at least $20 per serving and the FedEx shipping can cost anywhere from $20 to $40.

The menu is long and varied, with accommodations for those following specific diets like Paleo, heart-healthy, diabetic-friendly, and vegetarian. Click on a meal and you can get details like nutrition facts, ingredients lists, even reviews from other customers. Although the meals are mostly designed for dinnertime, there are lunch-appropriate “SuperBowls” like chicken tagine or mushroom Bolognese with pappardelle for about $10 a serving. All meals arrive frozen in pouches that you dunk in boiling water until heated through.

There’s no subscription required, making Home Bistro ideal for gift giving or special occasions like date night. However, if you do have the budget to order Home Bistro on a regular basis, customers can get a 5 percent discount when subscribing to auto-ship. And there are lots of meal bundles perfect for keeping the freezer stocked.

Final Verdict

Eating a healthy, nutritious dinner isn’t easy when you don’t have the time, energy, or skills to cook. When life gets busy, it’s all too easy to turn to unhealthy choices like fast food. Prepared meal delivery services offer a great alternative to that scenario, giving customers ready-to-heat fresh or frozen meals to help them eat right with little effort. And many offer meals that accommodate dietary restrictions and weight loss plans. Meals typically cost about the same as a restaurant takeout entree, but they get cheaper the more you order. They’re also generally more healthful, as companies emphasize nutrition and provide ingredient lists and nutrition facts. The large, rotating menus offer more choices than dinners in the supermarket freezer aisle too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Cancel a Subscription?

While these services are frequently subscription-based, every company on our list offers easy ways to change, cancel, skip, or pause their subscriptions or shipments. However, there is always a cutoff time—usually a week before shipping. Be sure to read the FAQ page on the company website to find when the last day is to change or cancel.

Can I Get a Refund?

In general, companies don’t offer refunds for meals you don’t like. There are usually no refunds for unwanted orders after the cutoff time either. However, if a shipment is damaged or spoiled during transit, you can usually contact customer service for a replacement credit or refund. Not all companies offer this, so it’s wise to inquire before ordering.

Can I Pick My Delivery Day?

Some companies allow you to pick your delivery day based on your ZIP code, but many don’t. Check with the company if you’re concerned about getting deliveries on a particular day.

How We Chose the Best Prepared Meal Delivery Services

When evaluating prepared meal delivery companies, we prioritized those that deliver to most of the contiguous United States. Those that are highly regional and only deliver to a handful of states didn’t make our list. We also gave bonus points to those that offer free or discounted shipping. We zeroed in on companies that are transparent about their sourcing and offer a wide range of healthful meals to choose from. After all, it’s not just convenience people want from a meal delivery service like you get with restaurant takeout and fast-food, but nutrition and a changing selection too.

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