Wide selection of proteins
Broad range of add-ons
Accommodates a range of diets
Simple and quick to prepare
Occasional muted flavors
Higher price point
Must spend $90 to get free shipping
Sunbasket is more healthful than your average meal delivery service, with relatively few refined carbs, lots of organic vegetables, and modest calorie counts. Plus, with a large selection of add-ons and fresh, fully-prepped single-serving dinners, Sunbasket's service goes way beyond meal kits. And with a wide variety of dietary profiles—like paleo, gluten-free, lean and clean, vegetarian, Mediterranean, pescatarian, and diabetes-friendly—as well as numerous protein substitutions for every dish, Sunbasket is about as flexible as they come.
Meal delivery services tend to cater to a specific audience, so finding the service that is right for you is about knowing your tastes and needs. What's your budget? How much time do you wish to spend cooking? What are your dietary preferences? All these questions and more will help you find the perfect service for your particular situation. We put Sunbasket to the test, breaking down many aspects of the service to help you decide whether you should give it a try.
How It Works: Healthy, Organic Meals Weekly
Signing up for Sunbasket is very simple. The first question you must answer is whether you're more interested in meal kits or Sunbasket's "Fresh & Ready" heat-and-serve meals. Next, you'll be asked about your diet, preferences, the number of people at your table, and how many meals you'd like per week. Sunbasket is a subscription, so this process will set the framework for your weekly delivery. However, you can change all of these settings at any time.
Once you've signed up, Sunbasket will send you a box on your chosen delivery day each week. You can either leave the meal selections up to Sunbasket or actively manage your subscription by choosing your own meals. Shipping costs $7.99 per box, but it's free on orders over $90.
Choosing Meals: Large Selection of International Flavors
Sunbasket features a wide array of culinary styles and ingredients, and the menu changes every week. As of July 2021, there are 20 meal kit options and 23 Fresh & Ready choices available each week, with selections like Japanese curry udon with edamame, spicy Sichuan mapo tofu with mushrooms and kale, pinto bean and hominy pozole rojo with queso fresco, and Black Angus rib-eyes with artichoke butter and green beans on the menu. Sunbasket's breakfast and lunch choices are classified as add-ons (covered below).
As mentioned, you can either choose your own meals or accept Sunbasket's selections based on your dietary preferences. If you want to make your own selections, the cutoff to do so is Wednesday at noon PT. Each Sunbasket box can hold up to eight items. You can order as many boxes as you like, but you are limited to eight orders of any one kit or Fresh & Ready meal. All Sunbasket meal kits serve two. If you are feeding four people, you must order two kits. Similarly, Fresh & Ready meals always have one serving. We found the portions to be generous but not excessive. In fact, a two-serving meal kit is probably adequate for two adults and a young child.
Sunbasket is most flexible when it comes to protein selection. Some dishes allow you to select from nearly a dozen options across multiple protein categories, from fish to poultry, beef, pork, lamb, and plant-based proteins like tofu and meat substitutes.
We received three meals in our first week and two meals in the second week for a total of five dishes.
What We Made
- Salmon and farro bowls with spinach, apricots, and green goddess dressing
- Coconut shrimp with cucumber salad and spicy pineapple-ginger mayo
- Pan-cooked sole with German potato salad and cucumber salad
- Memphis BBQ cheeseburgers with plum, pecan, and arugula salad
- Black Angus steaks with Brussels sprouts and chipotle mustard vinaigrette
Support Materials: Perfectly Adequate
Each meal kit (we did not try any Fresh & Ready meals for this review) includes a foldout recipe card with instructions, a photo of the prepared meal, a list of all ingredients, nutrition information, and the occasional tip and fun fact. The instructions are color-coded, with directions for four-serving preparation in red, and prep steps—such as chopping vegetables—in purple. There are also directions for each of the various protein selections that you might have made. We found the recipes to be simple, well-written, and easy to follow. All of this material is available in the Recipe Book section of the Sunbasket app. There you can see all Sunbasket's recipes, the recipes for your orders, and any favorites that you've saved.
The Sunbasket website also has a Tips and Techniques section drawn from the content on the Sunbasket blog. These tips are not linked specifically to your order, so you may have to do a bit of exploratory digging if you're looking for a particular tip or technique. There is some video content as well, but it's not easy to find on the site. If you're looking for video, visit Sunbasket's YouTube channel.
Packaging: Par for the Course
First, there's the Sunbasket box itself. Next is the insulation. Local temperatures determine whether you'll get paper insulation or heavier denim cotton insulation, which is made of shredded denim enveloped in a plastic liner. Due to warm weather in our area, our box contained the denim insulation. Then there are four ice packs, which are plastic liners filled with a blend of water and a small percentage of cotton fiber.
Inside the box, you'll find the proteins and the meal bags. Our proteins were sealed in plastic (although the salmon package in one of our boxes had, unfortunately, sprung a leak). Inside the brown paper meal bags are the remaining ingredients for your kits. These ingredients are packaged in various forms of plastic, such as small screw-top jars, clamshell containers, and LDPE bags. Eggs are packaged inside individual cardboard cartons, which are sealed inside plastic bags. Thick-skinned vegetables like cucumber and radish had no extra wrapping or packaging. Sunbasket also uses thin wooden trays and coated paper liners, but we did not receive either of these in our kits.
How much of all this packaging is recyclable depends on your municipality. For most people, the plastic bags and films will be the most challenging to recycle. Our nearest drop-off site for these materials is six miles away; that's not a dealbreaker, but it's not terribly convenient, either.
The Cooking Process: Simple and Straightforward
On its website, Sunbasket helpfully labels each kit to indicate the level of pre-preparation of the ingredients. "Speedy" kits are said to be ready in 20 minutes or less. "Pre-prepped" indicates that you won't have to do any chopping or measuring and the meal will require only three steps to prepare. Even the standard kits without such labels are relatively simple. The most you'll have to do is chop a couple of veggies, cook a protein, and maybe prepare some grains. There are a few somewhat complex recipes that require up to an hour of work, but these are the exception rather than the rule.
The kits we tested came together quickly, often faster than Sunbasket's estimates. All the sauces and dressings arrived pre-prepped. None of the recipes had more than four or five major steps, and only one recipe—the steak with Brussels sprouts—took longer than 30 minutes to prepare. Beginners should have no trouble with Sunbasket.
In terms of cookware, all our meals were easily prepared with only a pot, a frying pan, and a mixing bowl or two. You must supply your own oil, salt, pepper, and sugar.
Flavor, Freshness, and Quality: Top Quality, but Muted Flavors
Sunbasket's freshness and quality were very good, but we found flavor to be somewhat lacking. For all members of our tasting group, several of the dishes just felt a little flat. In the farro bowl, for example, the apricots lacked flavor—they were, in fact, hardly noticeable in the dish—and the green goddess dressing was a pale greenish-yellow, not the vibrant green depicted in Sunbasket's photo.
The spicy pineapple-ginger mayo with the coconut shrimp was similarly lackluster. The sole with the two salads was fine, but we felt we'd made more flavorful versions ourselves for less than half the price. Our favorite dish, the steaks with Brussels sprouts and chipotle vinaigrette, felt overpriced at around $27 per serving, despite the yummy intensity of the sauce. Overall, nothing was objectionable, but nothing was particularly delicious or impressive, either. That said, Sunbasket's food feels wholesome and nourishing.
Nutritional Value: Balanced Organic Nutrition
Sunbasket excels in the area of nutrition. The meal kits are packed with high-quality, lean proteins, organic vegetables, and whole grains, with very reasonable calorie counts—ranging from 350 calories in the sole dish to around 880 calories for the salmon and farro bowl. Several of our meals fell into multiple dietary categories like paleo, gluten-free, Mediterranean, and carb-conscious. If nutrition is your priority, Sunbasket is definitely a good choice.
Sunbasket Is Good For
Very busy folks who want to keep it healthy, as well as those looking to conveniently jumpstart a better diet, will be well served by Sunbasket.
Sunbasket Is Not Good For
If you have any time at all to do your own meal planning, you may not get much added value from a Sunbasket subscription.
Add-Ons: Most of the Bells and Whistles
Add-ons are one of Sunbasket's great strengths. The only things the service lacks are beer and wine. Otherwise, Sunbasket offers an extensive, well-curated selection of add-ons, divided into five major categories: Breakfast, Lunch, Pasta & Sauce, Proteins, and Snacks. Each of these categories contains multiple subcategories. All told, there are dozens of intriguing items, from soups and pizzas to breakfast bars and egg bites, juices, cheeses, cooked proteins, sweets, and more. As a nice bonus, Sunbasket includes one of these items as a free gift in each of your first four orders. We received a lavender chocolate truffle bar and a fresh blood orange juice on the house. Both were delicious.
Sunbasket offers an extensive, well-curated selection of add-ons, divided into five major categories.
Customer Service: Plenty of Avenues
We reached out to customer service via text to ask a few basic questions. It took about 40 minutes to get a response. Once we were in touch with an agent, all our questions were answered within about 30 minutes. Sunbasket has several other customer service avenues, including phone, email, a chat bot, a self-service system, and "ask an expert," where you can get questions answered by other Sunbasket customers. There's also an FAQ section on the website, although it's difficult to find.
The other avenue we used was the self-service feature. When our first box arrived wet and torn, we used the self-service feature to report it. We were automatically offered a credit for the cost of the entire order. Since none of the ingredients seemed compromised, we declined, but it was good to know that this type of resolution was available.
Making Changes and Canceling: No Trouble
Making changes to your delivery, customizing your order, and canceling your Sunbasket service is straightforward. You can change and customize your order in the My Menu and Schedule tabs. My Menu is for altering the contents of your order; Schedule is for skipping deliveries or arranging shipping to a temporary address. To reduce your delivery frequency, pause, or cancel your account, go to Account Settings and click "Manage My Subscription."
The Competition: Sunbasket vs. Blue Apron
The basic mechanics of Sunbasket and Blue Apron are very similar, and both offer a wide range of internationally inspired flavors. However, we found that the services have more differences than similarities. Sunbasket is focused on delivering organic foods and healthful meals, while Blue Apron emphasizes flavor with a side of culinary education. Sunbasket offers a much broader variety of meals (including fully prepped heat-and-serve dishes), protein options, and add-ons, while Blue Apron's menu is largely a tightly edited selection of meal kits. Sunbasket has a slightly higher price point than Blue Apron. In terms of flavor and overall value, we preferred Blue Apron. That said, if health and/or variety is your priority, Sunbasket is the obvious choice.
Sunbasket is a great service. While we were a little disappointed with a few of our meals, that alone shouldn't prevent you from trying Sunbasket for yourself. The service has a lot of options, and we did very much enjoy three out of the five meals. The main sticking point for us is value, which is unavoidably subjective. If you're willing to pay a little more for organic food and convenience, then Sunbasket may be right for you.
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 Name Sunbasket
- Lowest Price per Serving $8.99
- Number of Diets Served 8
- Number of Recipes 43
- Delivery Area 46 states
- Serving Sizes Available 1, 2