Dinnerly vs. HelloFresh

A direct comparison between these two meal delivery services

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Dinnerly prepared meal

Spruce Eats / Marisa Olsen

Dinnerly and HelloFresh are two popular at-home meal kits for home cooks. Dinnerly offers a simple and straightforward approach: easy weeknight, no-fuss meals centered around just a few ingredients. HelloFresh takes a more elaborate approach with fancier, more gourmet, and time-consuming recipes.

We tasted and tested five meals from each of the services for a week to compare price, meal choices, flavor, nutrition, and more. Read on to discover which meal delivery service we preferred.

Dinnerly Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Very affordable

  • Easy to prepare and cook meals

  • Can see recipes and prep info without subscribing

  • Eco-friendly business approach

Cons
  • Editing, selecting meals can be a bit confusing

  • Cooking instructions are vague

  • Ingredients not organized by meal in the box

  • Some meals are a bit bland

HelloFresh Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Many diverse meal choices

  • Great add-on options

  • Efficient and quick customer service

  • Delicious, gourmet meals

  • Easy-to-follow recipe cards

Cons
  • Meal prep can be time consuming

  • Lots of clean up

  • Meals are not necessarily nutritious

Dinnerly vs. HelloFresh: Price

Dinnerly is much less expensive than HelloFresh, starting at just $4.69 per serving compared to HelloFresh’s $7.49 starting point. Prices vary depending on your chosen meal plan. When we tested Dinnerly, we selected a classic plan with meat and vegetables, including five meals for two people at $4.99 a serving, plus $8.99 shipping, bringing our total to $58.89. Our week with HelloFresh came out much higher. We also selected the classic meat and vegetable plan, with five meals for two people, which was $9.99 per serving and $8.99 shipping. HelloFresh offers a bevy of add-ons, so we paid for additional goodies, like $6.99 a serving for a gourmet trout dish and $3.99 for a small serving of garlic bread. 

Dinnerly is a lot more affordable than HelloFresh, but Dinnerly’s platform is more basic and simple.

Dinnerly vs. HelloFresh: Meal Choices

HelloFresh prepared meal

Spruce Eats / Marisa Olsen

In terms of meal plans, Dinnerly offers a box for two people or a family box for four people. Each  box type has an option to select three to six meals per week. When selecting your plan, you have an option to select a classic plan with meat or vegetables or a vegetarian plan. Each week, 16 meals are offered, which are primarily geared just for dinner or a lunch meal. Occasionally, Dinnerly will offer a few specials, such as cookies or muffins. However, as of June 2021, the company does not offer any sort of add-ons for additional pricing. For example, if you are subscribed to a five-meal plan, and you’d like to try the chocolate pudding cups, then you must select the pudding as one of your five meals. Some users may find this limiting.

Once you have subscribed, Dinnerly will ask you types of meal preferences you enjoy, such as if you like beef or shellfish, or spicy or mild flavors. The company populate meals based on your preferences, but you can edit them as well. Dinnerly utilizes tags under each recipe icon to assist you in selecting the best choice for you: meat, vegetarian, seafood, one pot meal, no added gluten, low-calorie, under 30 minutes, kid friendly, dairy free, and healthy. 

HelloFresh’s subscription plan includes an option for two people or four people with two to five recipes per week. Each week HelloFresh offers at least 25 meal choices. When you start your subscription, HelloFresh will ask you to select a meal preference type: meat and veggie, veggie, family friendly, calorie smart, quick and easy, and pescaratian. HelloFresh does not currently offer any sort of diet plan, but it does offer at least six vegetarian dishes each week. HelloFresh leaves it up to the subscriber to identify which meals meet their dietary needs. 

HelloFresh also populates meals based on preference, but it’s easy to amend and select if you’d like to make changes. 

One of the fun, and perhaps overwhelming, components of HelloFresh is their add-on platform. After your meals are selected, you have access to dozens of extras from breakfasts, quick lunches, snacks, pantry items, and desserts. It’s easy to spend a lot of time and money adding onto your order. Special highlighted add-ons also include more expensive gourmet meals, such as a Sirloin and roasted garlic pan sauce with an upcharge per serving.

Dinnerly vs. HelloFresh: Creativity of Dishes

Dinnerly’s meals tend to be simpler and more straightforward, whereas HelloFresh meals are a bit more gourmet and detail-oriented. 

In terms of cuisine styles, Dinnerly tries to be worldly but with a simpler, speedy approach. We selected recipes that had nods to American Diner, Chinese, Japanese, Mediterrean, and Tex-Mex cuisines. We liked making the Baked tilapia, which was baked in foil. We enjoyed using this type of cooking technique both for retaining the juices of the delicate fish and for a super easy clean up. Other dishes, such as the Hoisin pork with butter noodles required boiling water, making a sauce, and seasoning and sauteing meat. We liked the flavoring of the meat, but found the miso sauce to be too watery. We were also surprised that the noodles provided were Italian spaghetti, not an Asian-style noodle, such as rice or cellophane noodles. The Cheesy chicken quesadillas were a bit basic too and we wished Dinnerly supplied more fixings such as sour cream or guacamole, or even a vegetable to make our dinner more complete and healthy. Many of our meals included a protein and carbohydrate, but not a ton of vegetables. 

HelloFresh prides itself on offering diverse cuisine options as well. We selected Japanese, Italian, Mediterranean, and Tex-Mex dishes. We found our recipes to be a bit more interesting and creative than Dinnerly’s but also more time-consuming and complicated. For example, we really enjoyed our Gourmet Pecan-crusted trout dish, which included roasting crispy potatoes, making a crunchy and nutty topping for the trout, and a tart and sweet salad. The flavors were delicious, but it took a lot of steps. Our tasting panel also loved the Sesame soy beef bowls, which consisted of sticky rice, sweet ground beef, crunchy carrots, a spicy sriracha mayo, and lots of scallions. This was ready in four steps, but it still included chopping, making a sauce, sauteing meat and vegetables, and boiling water for the rice. Most of our dishes included a protein, carbohydrate, and vegetables. 

Subscribers may prefer HelloFresh’s creativity of meals compared to Dinnerly’s if they have ample time to cook and the inclination to spend time doing the prep.

Dinnerly tries to be international but with a simpler, quicker approach.

Dinnerly vs. HelloFresh: Flavor, Freshness, and Quality

Dinnerly cooking process

Spruce Eats / Marisa Olsen

When inspecting our Dinnerly ingredients, we noticed that our tomato and red onion were both pretty bruised. Otherwise, we found all ingredients to be fresh, especially the grass-fed beef and the tilapia. However, upon cooking and tasting, we ultimately found the flavors in Dinnerly’s meals to be a bit bland. Oftentimes we needed seasoning or extra spice. The vegetables under the tilapia needed more of the spice mixture and the Hoisin pork noodles needed a lot more miso. 

Our ingredients from HelloFresh appeared mostly fresh. Each recipe is organized and packaged in a brown paper bag. We did notice when we were preparing our Southwest shrimp tacos, that a tomato that was in the paper bag became mealy from being in the fridge. Also, the trout from our gourmet meal had a slightly fishy odor but tasted fine. Otherwise, we found our dishes to have great seasoning and creativity. 

We found HelloFresh to offer a more flavorful profile when compared to Dinnerly’s meals.

Dinnerly vs. HelloFresh: Recipe Clarity/Difficulty

The Dinnerly meals we made were easy to prepare and uncomplicated, and were ready in 30 minutes, with five steps or fewer. Dinnerly clearly labels the household items you need ahead of time, which helps you prepare before your order arrives. Recipe prep tended to take the approximated time, and we never felt too rushed or overwhelmed when cooking. Dinnerly prides itself on non-fussy weeknight meals, and our dinners were certainly that. Overall, we’d say Dinnerly is geared towards more novice cooks or beginners. 

HelloFresh’s recipes tend to be more complicated and involved. Oftentimes we were using three or four pots or pans at a time, and some of the proportions were confusing as HelloFresh includes both two and four serving recipe proportions. We definitely had frenetic moments in the kitchen while our broiler was on, the water was boiling, and our chicken was sauteing. HelloFresh appears to be geared towards the more experienced cook who enjoys the process of lots of prep, moderate execution, and clean-up.  You may also need a sous chef in the kitchen with you to help.

Dinnerly vs. HelloFresh: Supporting Materials

HelloFresh recipe cards

Spruce Eats / Marisa Olsen

Dinnerly does not provide any printed materials in order to cut down on paper waste but sends an email the day before your delivery reminding you to gather all materials. Recipes can be found on their website, in an email, or on their app.  In our package, Dinnerly did add in a complimentary dessert with a thank you note. We did find that we prefer to have some sort of paper recipe in front of us for reference; otherwise, our mobile devices get a bit sticky and greasy. 

HelloFresh includes large printed recipe cards, a seasonal magazine, and coupons and incentives for friends. We appreciated HelloFresh’s recipe cards. HelloFresh showcases the recipe in a big, bright photo, and has recipe ingredient icons with measurements. The company also includes step-by-step colored photographs for each of the instructions. Almost all of our recipes were written in six steps with lots of detailed directions in each section. 

Both companies have an app that clearly shows your weekly recipes, ingredients, household items needed, nutritional information, instructions, allergens, and allows you to rate your recipes. 

Even though we preferred HelloFresh’s printed recipe cards, we found Dinnerly’s recipes to be easier to follow and more straightforward.

Dinnerly vs. HelloFresh: Types of Diets Served

At this time, Dinnerly includes a classic meat and vegetable option or a vegetarian option. You cannot omit any ingredients either. However,  Dinnerly utilizes the following tags to help you find the best recipe for your dietary need: meat, vegetarian, seafood, one-pot meal, no added gluten, low-calorie, under 30 minutes, kid-friendly, dairy-free, and healthy.

HelloFresh also does not include or accommodate any particular diet needs but it does offer several vegetarian options each week and allow you to set protein preferences such as pescetarian or meat and veggie. The company leaves it up to you to identify which recipes you can have or avoid, and label any dishes that are low calorie.

Dinnerly vs. HelloFresh: Nutritional Value

HelloFresh food label

Spruce Eats / Marisa Olsen

Both companies list nutritional information on the recipes, app, and website. Dinnerly lists calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein, whereas HelloFresh offers a larger scope, including saturated fat, sugar, fiber, cholesterol, and sodium. Some of our Dinnerly recipes tended to lack a lot of fibrous vegetables, and we found most meals to be carb-heavy. We noticed that HelloFresh tended to have high levels of fat and carbohydrates, and nearly all of our recipes had us adding one to two tablespoons of butter, not olive oil. 

Dinnerly vs. HelloFresh: Customer Service

We encountered a bit of a lag when using Dinnerly’s chatbot and online submission form. We couldn’t quite get the chatbot to help us and we waited over 72 hours for a reply from the online submission form. However, when we used the direct email, we received a response in 12 hours and called their helpline, and got connected to a live person within seconds. All responses were polite and helpful.  

While we were cooking one of our HelloFresh meals, we engaged with a live agent on chat, and within minutes had an answer to our question. It was simple and extremely helpful especially as the agent was able to answer a question relating directly to our recipe. We also called the direct helpline and were connected with a customer service agent immediately. All engagement was friendly and helpful.

Dinnerly vs. HelloFresh: Making Changes and Canceling

HelloFresh salmon

Spruce Eats / Marisa Olsen

Both meal services enable you to cancel your subscription relatively easily. Although there are a few clicks and a few questions, and last-minute incentives to stay, within a few clicks you can cancel or amend your subscription without engaging with customer service.

Dinnerly vs. HelloFresh: Additional Features

HelloFresh places a lot of focus on referrals and free boxes for family and friends. Even when you try to cancel your subscription, the company tends to try to keep customers by offering incentives, such as meal credits and complimentary boxes for new subscribers.

Final Verdict

After testing and tasting for a week from each service, we found HelloFresh to be a tastier option. We tended to enjoy more of our dinners from HelloFresh, albeit more time-consuming and requiring lots of cleaning up, we found the meals to be more well-rounded, flavorful, and interesting.

Methodology

We spent countless 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.

Among the criteria we used to evaluate each company were:

  • The ordering process
  • Meal selection
  • Packaging and support materials
  • Recyclability
  • The cooking process
  • The flavor, freshness, and quality of each meal and ingredient
  • Nutritional information
  • Customer service
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