Vegetable-forward, flavorful meals
Accommodates a variety of specialty diets
Offers meal kits and groceries
Quick and easy cooking process
Recipe choices lack diversity
Meals are overly simplistic
Purchases complicated by credit-based system
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The crux of Hungryroot’s model is its mix-and-match system of grocery items that double as ingredients in recipes. Drawing on a selection of prepped vegetables, fully cooked proteins, shelf-stable staples, and flavor-packed sauces, Hungryroot has generated literally thousands of recipes to choose from at any time. These base ingredients, as well as other grocery items, are also available for purchase a la carte. With simplicity and efficiency in mind, this service offers meals that require minimal preparation using ingredients that are vegetable-forward and health-oriented while delivering on flavor.
We wanted to see if Hungryroot’s particular system of grocery-turned-meal-kit was as tasty to eat as they are easy to prepare. Keep reading to see our takeaways from a week of cooking up what Hungryroot has to offer.
How It Works: Mix ‘n Match Kits + Groceries
Creating a Hungryroot profile begins with a quiz about what options you’d like to see, the goals you may have, and how you typically like to eat. Are you looking to save money or grocery shop less? Do you like to have a full meal for lunch or do you prefer a lighter snack option? Hungryroot wants to know.
It also asks for information about specialty diets and ingredient preferences. The service offers subscriptions that accommodate a wide range of needs and don’t worry, if you forget something while building your profile, these filters are all available later when you customize your weekly selections. You can choose from Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Peanut-Free, Tree Nut-Free, Egg-Free, Shellfish-Free, and Low Calorie.
Meal plans come in two- or four-serving increments for lunch and dinner recipes, starting off at a minimum of six servings and maxing out at 16 servings total for the week. You can also add on breakfast, snacks, and sweets in increments of two to three, four to six, and seven to 10 servings per week, all built into your meal plan.
Nearly all of the grocery/ingredient list defaults to vegetable-based, whole grain, vegan versions of familiar items, so get ready to hit your fiber goals. Leaning on staples like chickpea pasta, sprouted grain flatbreads, and cashew-based sauces where you might typically find refined grains and dairy-based ingredients; the emphasis on trending, health-oriented ingredients is clear. Also, while you can’t select an option for all organic, grass-fed, or free-range, some of these terms are labeled and searchable at the point of meal and ingredient selection.
Once your initial profile is built, Hungryroot generates a suggested list of recipes and a number of credits to shop with, after which you can customize your order. All of the recipes are available all the time, and each one is built with no more than three to six ingredients from the brand's grocery store. The recipes mostly come together in 15 minutes or less with very minimal prep work. Examples include microwaveable noodles, pre-chopped vegetables, and packaged sauce.
Nearly all of the grocery/ingredient list defaults to vegetable-based, whole grain, vegan versions of familiar items, so get ready to hit your fiber goals.
Choosing Meals: More Is Not Always Better
Based on your survey of preferences and how much food you need, Hungryroot’s recommended plan will be filled with recipes and grocery items that meet your requests. Depending on your dietary restrictions, you could have as many as 3,000+ meals to choose from each week across categories in Mains+Sides, Flatbreads, Tacos, Burgers, Wraps, Veggie Noodles, Sandwiches, Salads, Bakes, and Warm Bowls. While this may seem like a lot of options, the ingredients themselves are simple, and often repetitive.
Plans are always editable and a credit-based system is used when shopping for recipes and ingredients/groceries. Ingredients and recipes “cost” a different amount, with the simpler plant-based items tending to cost less and the more complex or meat-based dishes being on the higher end. While this makes sense for Hungryroot, we found the credit system a bit cumbersome to navigate and somewhat contrary to the sense of ease associated with the Hungryroot model.
Any edits you want to make need to be in by Thursday at noon EST, no matter your delivery day of the week. This is a great window for those with a Monday delivery slot, but not as ideal if your products are coming on Friday.
What We Made
We chose a variety of items across types of dishes and selected as many Hungryroot brand items as possible, especially leaning on house sauces and vegetable mixes to put quality and flavor to the test. We received five meals worth of products, for a total of 10 servings.
- Grilled feta turkey burger, potatoes, baby broccoli
- Zingy grilled chicken salad, superblend salad mix, sesame ginger sauce
- Creamy garlic chicken rotini, banza pasta, baby broccoli, garlic parm sauce
- Whole wheat sprouted flatbread, sweet Italian chicken sausage, baby spinach, spinach artichoke sauce
- Green Thai curry stir fry, laksa noodles, portobello mushrooms, seven veggie mix
Support Materials: Next to None
One slip of printed paper with recipes and a small generic brochure came with the shipment, but luckily the recipes are simple and nearly intuitive—plus, everything is available online. The recipe instructions were short but effective and offered one or two suggestions that made a lot of sense.
Packaging: Plastic-Heavy, Grocery-Style
The ingredients arrive in a cardboard box, as with most meal kits, and are packed with a cooling element made from biodegradable gel contained in a plastic bag. Items were individually wrapped and sealed, similar to how you’d find them in a grocery store—and their packaging is mainly plastic-based across the board for house products, using non-recyclable soft plastics as well as recyclable rigid plastic tubs and bins.
We felt the packaging from Hungryroot generated basically the same type and quantity of waste as a typical grocery trip that included mainly packaged products, plus the box they arrived in.
The Cooking Process: Fast and Easy
Recipes don’t get much simpler or easier to prepare than this, which is ideal for any level of cooking experience. With less than six pre-prepped ingredients per recipe, it felt like one step above heat-and-eat meals in most cases. All items took 15 minutes or less to make and the only real prep work involved was slicing.
The number of dirty dishes generated was also minimal, which we loved. Some recipes only required a bowl to combine all of the ingredients, where others used some basic cookware—a skillet alone or a skillet and a pot to boil water for pasta. Hungryroot also utilizes a microwave for cooking some of the ingredients.
Flavor, Freshness, and Quality: Fresh Ingredients + Flavorful Sauces
Despite some initial skepticism about the proportion of pre-prepped ingredients, we found the flavor, texture, and quality were great across the board. Vegetables arrived at varying levels of preparedness and all were very fresh with no visible signs of wilting or discoloration. They had snap and bite, and the cooking instructions never guided us to a place of mushy or overcooked. The vegetables were really the backbone of each meal, and we loved that.
The pre-cooked meat options had good flavor and texture overall, despite being a bit visually unappealing in their packaging and a touch salty. We definitely recommend heating these up when possible. Though it’s not required for every recipe, it improved the eating experience for us.
The sauces were really what brought everything home flavor-wise for us, and even though we needed to add more than the suggested amount in most cases, there was always plenty in the package to accommodate this. As a bonus, we almost always had leftover sauce to use on other things.
While a full set of nutrition information is available for all grocery products, only calorie totals are available for the recipes. We’d love to see Hungryroot add full nutrition information for recipes down the road, or perhaps additional filters to sort by nutrients. With so many recipe options, it was impossible to tell exactly the ranges of calories per meal, but nothing appeared to be over the 700-calorie mark per serving.
Hungryroot’s ability to cater to many specialty diets is a definite strength, with over 10 different dietary restrictions to choose from including Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, and Low Calorie. The company can also accommodate eliminations of nearly all nine major allergens plus gluten. One caveat for the company's allergen labeling—its definition of “allergen-free” does include items made in facilities that process these allergens, so keep this in mind.
Overall, the nutrition profile for Hungryroot felt strong, not because of calorie totals or diets accommodated, but because the recipes feature vegetables so prominently, and they default to whole grains, lean proteins, and legumes.
Hungryroot’s ability to cater to many specialty diets is a definite strength, with over 10 different dietary restrictions to choose from.
Hungryroot Is Good For
Hungryroot is a great fit for individuals or couples, especially those who prioritize ease of shopping and cooking over variety. It’s also a great choice for people who want fast, nutrient-dense options as their baseline without sacrificing flavor.
Hungryroot Is Not Good For
As Hungryroot’s options are based around a limited set of health-focused ingredients, it may not be the best fit for people who want more variety or who desire more indulgent options in their regular meal rotation.
Add-ons: Sky’s the Limit, for a Price
The Hungryroot model is based around recipes with ingredients that also double as a-la-carte groceries, so everything is available to add on, like extra proteins, more vegetables, sauces, and snacks. Just be prepared to navigate the credit system to get these items within budget or, more likely, pay above and beyond your basic plan.
Customer Service: Friendly and Efficient
In addition to a helpful FAQ page, the customer service at Hungryroot is friendly, efficient, and solution-oriented across all avenues of live communication, which include a text service, email, and phone. While after-hours support is not available, you’re covered on weekdays, weekends, and even certain holidays between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET.
After reaching out by email about a damaged item in our order, we had a response in just a few hours and a refund well above and beyond what the actual cost of this item would have been as an individual grocery purchase. Initially, Hungryroot’s response was sent to our spam folder, so we texted for a follow-up and they were able to guide us from there within minutes.
Making Changes and Canceling: DIY Online
All orders must be finalized by Thursday at noon ET, no exceptions, no matter what day of the week your order is set to arrive. Up until the cutoff for changes, nearly anything about a Hungryroot order can be changed—including the plan size itself, any items in the order, recipes selected, groceries, etc. Customizations can be a bit more challenging, however, as you cannot substitute items strictly speaking, but for most recipes, there are multiple versions that include different proteins. Unfortunately, it’s on the customer to find those and swap them out. Don’t forget to watch your credits as you do.
The Competition: Hungryroot vs. Green Chef
Hungryroot and Green Chef both offer a low-maintenance and health-conscious approach to food, emphasizing lots of vegetables packed into quick and tasty meals with minimal prep.
Both companies provide meals with prepped ingredients (at least partially) and premade sauces, but the food on offer is quite different. While Hungryroot’s meals are certainly tasty, they get repetitive quickly and aren’t much to write home about as far as culinary interest. Green Chef definitely has the upper hand in this category, offering variety and internationally-inspired dishes you look forward to eating.
However, if you’re looking for dietary accommodation, Hungryroot has more to offer. Green Chef offers meal plans to accommodate Keto+Paleo, Balanced Living, and Plant-Powered, which accommodate a few allergen needs; however, Hungryroot offers meals where nearly all of the nine major allergens can be omitted in addition to a low-calorie choice.
In terms of sustainability, both companies offer organic ingredients and proteins that meet certain standards of animal welfare, but Green Chef achieves this across the board for produce and eggs. Hungryroot only offers this in certain items and it’s not as clear which items are or are not meeting criteria during the ordering process. Along the same lines, Green Chef also offers more sustainable packaging with some recyclable plastics and compostable or paper items, while Hungryroot uses mostly plastic inside its delivery box.
If you’re health-focused and looking for basic, efficient, and tasty food, Hungryroot could become your go-to. It may be repetitive and a bit clunky to customize at times, plus it might not be exactly what you’d want to serve to company at your home, but we still feel it’s a win overall for busy folks looking to maximize nutrients.
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
- The cooking process
- The flavor, freshness, and quality of each meal and ingredient
- Nutritional information
- Customer service
- Product Brand Hungryroot
- Lowest Price per Serving $8.49
- Number of Diets Served 11
- Number of Recipes 3,000+
- Delivery Area 48 states
- Serving Sizes Available 2, 4