20 recipe choices per week
Meals offer twists on the ordinary
Most recipes are ready in under 40 minutes
Recipes aren’t as flavorful as they seem
Very few options for vegans and vegetarians
Shipping isn’t free
Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Marley Spoon is experiencing an overload of orders, and are therefore unable to keep up with demand, due to strain on product availability and fulfillment. This may mean that any orders or subscriptions placed through Marley Spoon will be shipped later than expected.
Marley Spoon got its start in Berlin back in 2014, coming to the States one year later and partnering with the Queen of Domesticity a year after that. It’s this partnership that sets the service apart, offering subscribers the same types of fresh easy meals with subtle creative twists that would be at home in Martha Stewart Living. But as mouth-watering as the photos and recipes seem online, the big question is do they deliver in real life? We put several kits to the test to find out.
How It Works: Plans for Two or Four People
Signing up is very straightforward. You don’t have to choose between a bunch of different plans such as vegetarian or calorie-restricted. Just decide if you want to serve two or four people, and how many meals you want each week — from two to five meals with the two-person plan, or up to four with the four-person plan.
You can set up food preferences when you sign up so that if you decide not to choose your meals one week, you won’t automatically get sent something you don’t want to eat. Of course, you can change these preferences anytime.
Kits come once a week and include most of the ingredients needed to cook the meals. Some services let you pick nearly any day of the week for delivery, but Martha & Marley Spoon only offers two choices, and the kits can arrive anytime from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Ours arrived at almost 8 p.m. — so late that we had to cook something else for dinner. Keep that in mind if you’re counting on cooking from the kit on delivery day.
Skipping weeks is a cinch to do both online and in the app, as is changing recipes, plans, delivery information, and canceling the service completely. Some services offer every other week or once a month deliveries, but not this one. However, you can essentially create these options yourself by skipping deliveries up to two months in advance.
Choosing Meals: Good Variety of Fast Recipes
Martha & Marley Spoon offers 22 recipes each week, all of which can be executed in six steps and take no more than 40 minutes. The recipes have at-a-glance labels like “low-carb,” “dairy free” and “under 30 minutes” to help you decide. Although the service touts its compatibility with restricted diets, it’s kind of hit or miss. We only saw two vegetarian meals each week, and only occasionally was one of them vegan. Some weeks there would be a keto-friendly meal with 13 grams of carbs or less, but other weeks there wouldn’t be a keto option. So if you have a restricted diet and you’re counting on a steady selection of meals, this could be a problem.
Martha & Marley Spoon offers 22 recipes each week, all of which can be executed in six steps and take no more than 40 minutes.
Still, we liked how the recipes offered a good number of meals we don’t see every day, things such as sheet pan chicken thighs with roasted shallots and grapes, broken noodle paella, and worldly options like Vietnamese fish soup. And there were still plenty of familiar dishes to satisfy the usual cravings. Think oven-fried chicken with apple-walnut salad, and mini meatloaves with crispy potatoes and green beans.
Clicking on a recipe photo gives the full recipe so you can see if you’re up for the job. However, there doesn’t seem to be a way to print the recipes out.
- Creamy Garlic Chicken Thighs with Kale Salad and Bacon Vinaigrette
- Bean and Cheese Enchiladas with Quick Red Chile Sauce (vegetarian)
- Buffalo Turkey Lettuce Wraps with Carrot-Cucumber Ribbons and Ranch
Support Materials: Full-Color Recipe Cards
Each meal comes with a full-color recipe card with step-by-step photos, nutrition information and estimated cook time. The recipes are available online and in the app, too, however, they’re not downloadable or printable.
The app is well designed and easy to navigate. It automatically saves recipes you’ve ordered and it has a favorites tab where you can keep track of what you’ve loved and might want to order again. We could manage our orders and change our information and search the frequently asked questions. All of the recipes are searchable in the app, but not on the web.
The blog has a decent number of articles with cooking tips and bonus recipes, but it’s fairly limited when it comes to useful instruction for beginners.
Packaging: Mostly Recyclable
The box and the insulated liner are all made from recyclable paper and cardboard, so they’re easily recyclable at the curb. Depending on the time of year, there might be additional insulation that’s not as easily recyclable, such as metallic bubble wrap pouches and plastic sleeves filled with cotton batting. But the website offers helpful recycling instructions.
The meals were bundled into paper bags, making it easy to keep track of the ingredients. When it was time to cook, we just grabbed a bag from the fridge and recycled the bag. The meats were packed separately under ice packs.
Some of the produce was packed in plastic bags or clamshells, while some of the more robust stuff was on its own. The amount of plastic didn’t feel as excessive as some other kits we’ve tried, mainly because the kits didn’t contain special bottled sauces and condiments. And we appreciated that the box contained a whole bulb of garlic instead of individual cloves tucked in plastic for each recipe.
Although some areas can take plastic bags and clamshells for recycling, ours doesn’t so we had to toss this plastic out.
The amount of plastic didn’t feel as excessive as some other kits we’ve tried, mainly because the kits didn’t contain special bottled sauces and condiments.
The Cooking Process: Streamlined and Straightforward
The kits contained almost everything we needed for each recipe, however, we had to supply our own staples. Every kit we’ve tried assumes users have cooking oil, salt, and pepper, but Martha & Marley Spoon also assumed we also had flour, butter, apple cider vinegar, and red wine vinegar. Since this cuts down on plastic packaging and these are staples we do indeed have on hand, we were happy to provide our own. But non-cooks with a barebones pantry might have been frustrated.
The amount of prep work wasn’t onerous and usually took 10 to 15 minutes. We never needed more than two pans and a bowl or two, so clean up was easy. And the cook times were accurate.
The recipes were simple and straightforward, but absolute beginners might need a bit more instruction than what was provided. For example, one sauce was thickened by a roux, and could have ended up lumpy if we hadn’t known to pour the liquid in a little at a time.
Every kit we’ve tried assumes users have cooking oil, salt and pepper, but Martha & Marley Spoon also assumed we also had flour, butter, apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar.
Flavor, Freshness and Quality: A Little Disappointing
We didn’t have any trouble with the freshness of the ingredients. There was one yellowed kale leaf but everything else was fine. And there was plenty of food for two people. The trouble was that the dishes just didn’t taste as delicious as they looked on paper.
The Buffalo Turkey Lettuce Wraps were unwieldy to eat. The romaine leaves were too big to serve as wraps. Butter lettuce would have been better. And the carrot and zucchini ribbons were a floppy mess with too little seasoning. Flavor-wise the dish was as basic as it gets.
The Bean and Cheese Enchiladas seemed promising since they included poblanos in the filling. But the flavor of smashed pinto beans overwhelmed everything else, and the enchilada sauce was not delicious and lacked brightness. It was basically roux-thickened broth with taco seasoning. We’ve had canned enchilada sauce that tasted far better.
The trouble was that the dishes just didn’t taste as delicious as they looked on paper.
The chicken thighs with creamy garlic sauce was the best of the three dishes we tried. It didn’t wow us, but it was tasty and satisfying. Still, based on the name we expected a savory pan sauce enriched with garlic and cream, but it was just pan drippings with cream cheese whisked in. A lot of our drippings had evaporated so we had to whisk in a little more water to keep it from being gloppy.
Who It’s Good For?
Martha & Marley Spoon is good for people who want to get out of their cooking rut (there's a choice of 22 meals each week) but don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen.
Who It Isn’t Good For?
Absolute beginners might have a little trouble, and people accustomed to bold flavors might be disappointed. And if you have specific diet restrictions, you might want to try another service that can really tailor to your needs.
Customer Service: Limited
Some services offer live chat help, but not this one. Instead, you can call, e-mail or fill out a form online or in the app. You can also search the Frequently Asked Questions and click the talk bubble icon to get help from an automated support “sous chef” that basically searches the FAQ for you.
Making Changes and Canceling: No Trouble at All
The streamlined website and app make it easy to change recipes, skip weeks, change delivery info and even meal plans. The links are easy to find and not hidden away. Just make sure to make any changes and cancellations six days in advance.
The Competition: Martha & Marley Spoon vs. Blue Apron
Both Martha & Marley Spoon and Blue Apron aim their services as food lovers who like dishes with interesting flavor twists. However, Blue Apron goes a little deeper into global ingredients like gochujang and Szechuan peppercorns. Martha & Marley Spoon relies less on interesting condiments and ingredients and more on slightly unexpected preparations. It also offers far more choices each week — 20 compared to Blue Apron’s six or eight choices — and the plans are simpler to navigate. Blue Apron is a tad more expensive per serving — $9.99 compared to $8.99 – but it doesn’t charge extra for shipping as long as you order 3 meals or more per week. It also offers more add-ons like wine.
Creative recipes that could use more flavor.
The meals we tried from Martha & Marley Spoon left us a little underwhelmed. The ingredients were fresh, the packaging was blessedly minimal, and the recipes were quick to make and easy to follow. We just wished there was more flavor. Still, if you’re looking for easy recipes that deviate from the usual suspects, it could be a good choice.
- Product Name Martha & Marley Spoon
- Price $53.94
- Standard Plan 2 meals for 2 people: $49.99 (not including shipping)
- Shipping $8.99
- Typical Cost per Serving $8.99
- Lowest Cost per Serving 6.99 (must order 4 meals for 4 people)
- Weekly Meal Options Choose from 2 to 5 meals per week, and 2 or 4 servings per meal