Healthy, vegetable-centric meals
Ready in 10 to 15 minutes
Accommodates many dietary restrictions
Recipes are very tasty (even a hit with kids!)
Meals are basic
No grace period for late changes
Customizing can be complicated
Same ingredients used frequently
We're continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation with regards to whether or not some meal delivery services will be altering their operation schedules, geographic restrictions, and/or frequency of shipments. As of now, most meal delivery services seem to be operating under a normal schedule, expanding inventory to continue to provide meals, are complying with FDA regulations, and are monitoring CDC recommendations closely. However, there are a handful of companies (and we have noted them below) who have had to scale back deliveries and are having delays of one to two weeks.
A Note From a Medical Professional:
"Having food delivered is felt to be safe at this time, but an emphasis on disinfecting and avoiding close contact with people remains. Asking to have the food delivered to your doorstep and not directly handed to you is one precaution to directly avoid contact with another person. Any container should be wiped with a disinfectant, and you should wash your hands immediately after [receiving your food] to further minimize the already low risk of food delivery."
— Joseph Khabbaza, MD, a pulmonologist at Cleveland Clinic
While other companies pack their meal kits with a dozen or so ingredients to make dinner, Hungryroot practices the art and science of paring down. Its highly customizable meals require just two or three ingredients, no prep work, and only a few minutes on the stove to heat up. Whether it’s a bowl or a flatbread, they all follow a similar formula — flavorful sauce + vegetables + something to serve them on. Predictable? Yes, but the meals are super healthy, packed with vegetables, and take well to mixing and matching so they’re easy to customize. We recently tried Hungryroot to see if its meals were as good to eat as they are good for you. Read on to find out if it passed muster.
How It Works: Groceries instead of kits
Hungryroot does things a little differently in that it delivers groceries instead of full-fledged kits. But those groceries — bags of stir-fry vegetables, tubs of peanut sauce, pouches of rice — form the basis of easy two- or three- (and sometimes four) component meals. Think cauliflower rice with chicken and wild mushroom meatballs topped with green chili sauce. Just heat, combine and eat.
The groceries are all selected with health in mind, so even though Hungryroot isn’t a vegan, dairy-free or wheat-free service, many of its items are. For example, a creamy white sauce for pasta is actually made with cashews instead of heavy cream, and it might be paired with sausages made with chicken instead of pork, and chickpea pasta or zucchini noodles instead of pasta made with wheat flour.
The groceries are all selected with health in mind, so even though Hungryroot isn’t a vegan, dairy-free or wheat-free service, many of its items are.
But to get those groceries you have to sign up for a subscription. There are three plans to choose from. The Small plan ($69) provides ingredients for at least three two-serving meals. The Medium ($99) makes at least four two-serving meals, and the Large ($129) makes at least five two-serving meals. The amount of meals you get depends on the ingredients. Basically, each plan comes with a certain number of “credits” and ingredients “cost” varying amounts of credits. For example, meat uses up more credits than vegetables, so if you have meat-heavy food preferences set, or you customize the default meals and swap out a low-credit meal for something that requires more credits, you might end up with fewer meals total.
The service encourages subscribers to set up their food preferences to ensure they get ingredients they’ll want to eat. Those with allergies or intolerances can set preferences for peanut-free, tree nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, and gluten-free. You can also set a "never" rating for any item you definitely don’t want.
The company ships throughout the 48 states in the Continental U.S. and it's usually free depending on your zip code. If you live in an area that can be served by ground shipping you won’t pay extra, but if the delivery has to include air shipping it’ll cost $10. The meals can come anytime between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and are packed in an insulated cardboard box with ice packs, just like most other meal kit delivery services.
Choosing Meals: Set Menu is Customizable
Each week, Hungryroot decides which groceries it’ll send you for the recipes it has in mind, so there’s no menu to browse through. The meals fall into eight categories: veggie noodles, flatbreads, stir-fries, kinds of pasta, grain bowls, market plates, salads, and wraps. The meals are simply built with a combination of components. There’s usually a base (such as veggie rice, flatbread, or pasta), a sauce (such as kale pesto or peanut sauce), and proteins and/or vegetables (such as chicken sausage and shaved Brussel sprouts).
Since the ingredients all go together and are mixed and matched endlessly, the meals are very customizable. But customizing is not a super intuitive process so it takes a little getting used to. To customize, click the In Your Future link and then click the customize button. You can browse the lineup by meal (such as stir-fry, pasta and grain bowl) or by grocery item. If you want to swap out an entire meal, it makes sense to browse by meal, but if you just want to swap one item for another, browse by grocery item. You’ll have to remove a meal from your grocery list, then add the ingredients back to create the meal you want.
However, the meals and ingredients you get to choose from depends on how many credits you have to spend. If the meal you delete was worth seven credits, then you have to choose a meal or combination of ingredients that cost the same or less in credits. You can’t buy more credits if you go over the limit. If you find yourself wanting to add more ingredients to your delivery, it’s best to upgrade to the next plan.
Of course, since the delivery is an assortment of groceries that go together, not full-on kits, you can always keep the order as-is and use the ingredients however you want.
Keep in mind you have the option to customize or skip an order up until noon Eastern Standard Time (9 a.m. Pacific) the Thursday before your scheduled delivery. There is no grace period. If you miss the cutoff there is no way to cancel or change the order — or even change the address it will get shipped to. Other services at least let you send the box elsewhere if you miss the cutoff.
We signed up for the Medium plan and got 18 items that resulted in five meals, plus one tub of vegan cookie dough and one artichoke quinoa cup, which was perfect for a one-serving lunch. We had to do a little customizing to end up with those options.
Stir-fry of Asian salad mix with Thai peanut sauce and braised lemongrass tofu nuggets.
Kohlrabi noodles with kale pesto and spinach garlic chicken sausage.
Banza chickpea cavatappi with Garlic Parm sauce and broccolini.
Whole wheat sprouted flatbread with spinach artichoke chickpea dip, shaved Brussels sprouts, and hot smoked roasted salmon.
Seven-grain bowl with seven-veggie stir fry, seasoned grilled chicken breast, and Thai Peanut Sauce.
Support Materials: Almost none
Opting out of the catalog with recipes is the default setting for accounts. We didn’t know this when we signed up and were surprised to find no recipe materials in our shipment. We only discovered this after clicking around in our account settings.
Luckily, the recipes were all on the site, and since they’re so short it wasn’t hard to follow along without a tangible piece of paper. They usually required something to be briefly heated or sauteed, then combined with sauce and that’s it.
There’s no app or blog with additional cooking tips or videos.
Packaging: Plastic bags and tubs
Similar to the other meal kit delivery services we’ve tried, Hungryroot’s ingredients came shipped in a large cardboard box with insulation and cold packs. The box is curbside recyclable and the insulation is made of biodegradable material, but it’s encased in film plastic that is only recyclable in certain areas, as is the plastic cover that holds the gel in the cold packs.
Inside the ingredients were all prepped and packaged in plastic bags or tubs. In the end, the shipment didn’t result in much more plastic than what most people generate after shopping at the grocery store. If your area accepts tubs and film plastic for recycling, you’ll be able to keep them out of the trash.
The Cooking Process: Extremely fast and easy
Since they’re made of just three or four prepared components, like bags of cut vegetables and tubs of sauces, the recipes came together in mere minutes. In general, we only needed to heat or sauté the vegetables, proteins and starchy bases, then combine with sauce. Nothing took more than 15 minutes and several took as little as 10 minutes. Clean up was also extremely easy, with usually just one or two sauté pans to wash. Really, these meals felt more like assembling than cooking, making them a great option for people who don’t yet know how to cook or who consider it a chore.
Nothing took more than 15 minutes and several took as little as 10 minutes. Clean up was also extremely easy, with usually just one or two sauté pans to wash.
The recipes are so simple, however, they do leave some judgment calls for the cook to intuit. The grain bowl didn’t specify cutting the chicken after cooking, but it was clearly the right way to go. And most of the dishes needed more than the two to three tablespoons of sauce specified. But these are minor quibbles.
We didn’t need anything more than salt, pepper and cooking oil to prepare the meals, but since they’re pretty bare bones, the recipes often give tips for what to add to make them more exciting, like adding sautéed spinach and a fried egg to the stir-fry, or nuts and seeds to the grain bowl. So it helps to have a few more ingredients on hand. We usually didn’t bother adding additional ingredients and we still enjoyed the meals.
Flavor, Freshness and Quality: Surprisingly delicious
Considering the recipes are so basic, with just a handful of components, we were consistently surprised by how tasty they were. Yes, they were healthy and didn’t offer the decadence of, say, a fried chicken dinner, but they tasted good and filled us up and we felt quite virtuous after. These simple meals aren’t the kinds of dishes you’d serve to company, but how often does company come calling anyway?
Considering the recipes are so basic, with just a handful of components, we were consistently surprised by how tasty they were.
We included a couple of older kids in our tasting group, and not a single dish made them grouse. In fact, the chickpea pasta with cashew-based Garlic Parm sauce and broccolini was a huge hit. Not everyone loved the vegan chickpea-based chocolate chip cookie dough, which baked up very doughy and rich, but we decided it the hit the spot for a healthy sweet treat.
The ingredients all looked and smelled fresh. The cut vegetables didn’t look browned or wilted. We did have a bit of trouble with the seven-grain blend, as one taster took a bite and chomped down on what we suspect was a piece of gravel.
In terms of serving sizes, there was always more than enough food for two people and there was almost always leftover sauce.
One thing to keep in mind: Since the service uses the same core ingredients to make all of its recipes, you will likely see a few of them week after week, perhaps in slightly different iterations. We can see this lack of diversity getting pretty tiresome, making us suspect Hungryroot might be best as an every other week service.
Who It's Good For?
Hungryroot is great for anyone who wants to eat healthier but doesn’t want to spend a lot of time cooking in the kitchen.
Who It Isn't Good For?
Big-time meat-eaters, or those who like traditional “meat and three”-style plates will likely be dissatisfied.
Add-ons: None really
Although Hungryroot features a wide array of components that you can pick and choose, they aren’t really available as add-ons on top of your usual order. Each subscriber is limited to their plan size, so if you want more items you have to opt for a larger plan.
Customer Service: Courteous
Most of our questions were easily answered through the frequently asked questions in the Help Center. If you have a problem or question and can’t find the answer, you can call, text or e-mail customer service, which is available from 10 am. to 6 p.m. Eastern time seven days a week. We texted customer service asking about changing our order even though it was past the deadline (by less than 24 hours). We heard back an hour later and were able to chat via text. The representative was courteous and friendly, though ultimately not able to help us make the change even though the delivery wouldn’t be shipped for a full week. We couldn’t even change the address. Most other meal kit delivery services can make a few changes to an order if it’s not too far past the deadline.
Most of our questions were easily answered through the frequently asked questions in the Help Center.
Making Changes and Canceling: Easy enough
Making changes to your order is as easy as clicking the “In Your Future” tab to see what’s scheduled to come, then click the reschedule button to see a calendar where you can pick weeks you want to skip. The "Future tab" is also where you can make changes to the meals. Just click "Customize". Customizing isn’t super straightforward since you have to stay within your allotted credits, but it’s easy enough. You can also change your plan size, address, and delivery date in settings. To change your food preferences just click the "Food Profile tab".
Canceling isn’t quite as obvious. It takes a few clicks through the Account tab to find the link, but the instructions are found in the Help Center. You can also pause the subscription for up to eight weeks.
The Competition: Hungryroot vs. Sunbasket
Healthy, vegetable-centric meals are the cornerstone of both Hungryroot and Sunbasket, and both make it a priority to accommodate people with dietary restrictions. Hungryroot’s meals are far faster to prepare than Sunbasket, but they’re also much more simple and not nearly as globally-inspired or exciting.
Sunbasket sources all organic ingredients and touts its relationships with small farms. Hungryroot isn’t quite as transparent, but it does say that it tries to source as many organic ingredients as possible.
Hungryroot doesn’t offer as many bells and whistles, like breakfast add-ons and video tutorials, but it’s generally cheaper at $7 to $11 per serving with shipping included, whereas Sun Basket costs $10.99 to $12.99 depending on how many meals you buy each week and shipping is a flat $6.99.
Fast, tasty, and good for you.
Hungryroot is a great way to skip the processed junk and get healthy food on the table fast. The meals won’t win any awards for creativity, but they’re delicious, satisfying, easy, and cheaper than many other meal kit services. Some of the ingredients might be repetitive after a while, but we still think it's worth using if you're short on time, but want to start eating right.
- Product Name Hungryroot
- Price $59
- Minimum Price: $59, including shipping.
- Shipping: Free if using ground shipping, otherwise $10.
- Cost per Serving: Variable but averages between $7 and $11.
- Minimum Order: Small plan (makes about 3 two-serving meals).
- Weekly Meal Options: Many different meal combinations depending on ingredients chosen.