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Sunbasket and HelloFresh are two popular at-home delivery meal kits that are geared toward adults or families who love to cook and eat delicious meals.
We were curious to see how the two companies compared, so we enlisted a tasting panel to try several meals for a week from Sunbasket and HelloFresh. Read on to learn about our findings and favorites, and how the two services compare.
Sunbasket vs. HelloFresh: Price
Sunbasket offers two types of meal plans: Fresh & Ready, which are prepared meals that are ready to heat and serve, and Meal Kits, which are recipes containing pre-portioned ingredients for cooking at home.
Fresh & Ready meals are portioned for one serving and you can choose four to eight meals per week. Eight, one-portioned, ready-to-heat meals a week comes to $8.99 per serving. If you opted for four meals a week, it comes to $11.99 per serving.
Meal Kits are designed for two or four servings and you can select two to four meals per week. Two servings with two recipes costs $13.99 per serving and four servings for four recipes a week is $10.99 per serving. Shipping for our delivery was $7.99 and, as of June 2021, Sunbasket says your first order will ship free of charge.
HelloFresh offers weekly boxes of two serving sizes or four, and you can choose two to five recipes or meals a week. Depending on your plan, meals can start at $7.49 per serving and go up to $12.49 per serving. The more meals or servings you order each week, the less you pay per serving. For example, if you select a plan for four servings a week with four recipes, you pay $7.49 per serving. If you select a plan for two servings or people per week with just two recipes, you pay $12.49 per serving. Shipping is a standard $8.99.
Sunbasket vs. HelloFresh: Meal Choices
Sunbasket prides itself on delivering healthy, wholesome meals that can cater to a variety of dietary needs, such as paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian, pescetarian, Mediterranean, and even diabetes-friendly. Upon subscribing, Sunbasket will ask you if you follow any particular diets but will always let you choose off of the full menu each week. Sunbasket will also ask you to select any food preferences, such as avoiding lamb, grains, soy, or if you prefer a high fiber diet or low added sugar.
After selecting, Sunbasket populates meals with an option to edit. For our week, the company offered 19 Fresh & Ready meals and 17 Meal Kit meals. You can customize and filter recipes by dietary needs and meals ready in under 20 minutes. We did find the process of editing our meals a little tricky; you need to click on “Cart” in the upper right-hand corner and use the small drop-down arrows to remove or add servings to the preselected meals.
Some recipes allow you to substitute or customize proteins at no cost or for an additional charge. For our week, the mojo tacos with shredded cabbage, pickled onions, and salsa verde were paired with 5 ounces of braised pork, but you can swap out the pork for a bevy of protein options. These include five ounces of chicken strips at no cost; 5 ounces of organic top sirloin strips for an additional $1.99 per serving; or 5 ounces of sea scallops for an extra $3.99 per serving.
In addition to prepared meals and meal kits, Sunbasket has a plethora of add-ons of breakfasts, lunches, pasta, sauces, proteins, and snacks. These are great options if you’re looking to avoid the grocery store.
Once you subscribe to HelloFresh, it will ask you for a general food preference: meat and veggies, veggie, family-friendly, calorie smart, quick and easy, and pescetarian. HelloFresh populates recipes based on your preference, but you can edit and change easily. Each week the service offers at least 25 recipes and always includes a few vegetable-based options. Once you’ve selected your meals for the week, you can check out HelloFresh’s robust selection of add-ons, which includes gourmet meals, quick breakfasts, snacks, proteins, and pantry items, such as sea salt and pepper. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Sunbasket vs. HelloFresh: Creativity of Dishes
The Sunbasket menu was quite diverse and very intriguing. We saw the most internationally inspired cuisines from American Diner, Burmese, Catalan, French, Jewish, Greek, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican, and Thai nationalities and regions. Some meals featured tags under each recipe, such as speedy or pre-prepped. A few recipes are highlighted as “Chef’s Table,” which are fancier, gourmet dinners. For our week, Sunbasket had a garlic-yogurt halibut and warm fattoush salad with za’atar for an additional $8.49 per serving. You could also substitute the halibut for Faroe Island salmon, Wild Pacific King salmon, or sustainably raised barramundi.
We found HelloFresh to be creative and original as well. There was a diversity of international inspirations and a variety of types of meals, such as one pan, lightning-fast, or more upscale gourmet meals, which do incur an upcharge. Cuisines included American Diner, BBQ, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Tex-Mex, and Thai.
Both companies place an emphasis on unique and interesting cuisines, but we found Sunbasket’s meal choices to be slightly more worldly and exciting than HelloFresh’s options.
Sunbasket vs. HelloFresh: Flavor, Freshness, and Quality
All of our Sunbasket meals were organized in recyclable brown paper bags that were clearly labeled with instructions to keep each bag in the refrigerator. The proteins from Sunbasket were quite fresh for the most part. We loved the sustainably sourced Faroe Island salmon and shredded chicken. Upon inspecting the organic New York strip steak, we noticed a few brown spots, which we realize can happen when steaks are vacuum sealed. Still, we were a little disappointed in the steak, as it was tough and not very flavorful.
Our tasting panel really liked the nod to the crispy and decadent Hanukkah-inspired latkes made with rainbow carrots and potatoes topped with horseradish yogurt, and a side of apple walnut salad. When making the latkes, we were pleased with how well the latkes kept their shape while frying up with the gluten-free flour and egg as a binder. We enjoyed the flavor profile of the savory pancakes with the tart yogurt and the sweet apple walnut salad, flavored with cinnamon.
Where Sunbasket really shined was with the sauces and vegetables. The romesco sauce on the steak had the perfect piquant zing and we loved the mojo sauce for the mojo tacos. Some of the dishes did need extra salt, especially the Yucatecan tomatillo salmon dish. We loved seeing so many colorful vegetables, such as bright green broccoli, yellow squash, green zucchini, and rainbow carrots. We also appreciated the mi rancho artisan tortillas, which were fresh and pliable when heated and were clearly a high-quality, thoughtful product.
All of our HelloFresh meals and ingredients were pretty fresh. Similar to Sunbasket, each meal is organized in a brown paper bag, which we stored in the refrigerator. We didn’t peek into the bags until we prepped for each meal, and we did find a mealy tomato, but we realized it was most likely because it was refrigerated.
In terms of seasoning, we found nearly all of our recipes to be on point with fair levels of salt and pepper and seasoning. Most dishes had a variety of textures and acidity, and were well balanced. The southwest shrimp tacos with pico de gallo and hot sauce crema had a nice tangy kick. Our tasting panel enjoyed the flavors of the homemade pico but, as mentioned above, the texture of the cold tomato was a bit off.
Both companies’ meals are fresh and have interesting flavor profiles, but we preferred Sunbasket’s organic, colorful produce, and artisanal products over HelloFresh.
Sunbasket vs. HelloFresh: Recipe Clarity/Difficulty
Our Sunbasket meals were quite easy to prepare and execute. A few of our meals were pre-prepped, which made dinnertime so much easier, and some were even made in one pan.
Our mojo tacos took under 5 minutes to prep. We just had to warm up the packaged shredded chicken, add a sauce, and heat up our tortillas. All of the sauces were pre-made and the pickled onions and cabbage were shredded, so it was quite simple from start to finish. We even had leftovers for most dishes.
One important note: Due to the vast options of protein customization, Sunbasket lists all of the various cooking times in each recipe booklet, so you must pay attention as cooking can get confusing. For instance, one of our meals was the “Choice of protein” with romesco, vegetables, and almonds (we chose the steak). The recipe booklet writes out each of the protein cooking instructions for all of the protein options, and it can be a bit lengthy. So when you are in the process of sauteing your specific protein, it’s important to make sure you’re referring to the correct one.
HelloFresh meals seem to be geared toward the cook who has some kitchen experience. We had a lot of prep work of rinsing and chopping, and then we often found ourselves having to focus on boiling water, sauteing our protein, or roasting our vegetables. The meals do not seem to be created for people who are just learning to cook since there are so many steps involved. We also observed that many of our meals needed ample time to prepare and execute, and we tended to have a lot of clean-up as we used a lot of cooking utensils, pots, and pans. Most meals we made took longer than the approximated cooking time as well.
When it comes to recipe clarity and level of difficulty, we prefer Sunbasket’s pre-prepped and straightforward recipes.
Sunbasket vs. HelloFresh: Supporting Material
When we first opened our Sunbasket delivery we didn’t see any recipe cards. However, each recipe card, or booklet, is tucked away in each recipe bag. The recipe booklet is a colorful trifold featuring: the recipe name and photograph of the finished dish; a list of included ingredients; a list of household items and tools you need from your kitchen; recipe instructions, which include each of the various proteins that could be customized; an introduction about the dish; and nutrition facts.
It’s important to note that the nutrition facts only list the original protein, not any of the customizable ones. For example, with our mojo tacos, the nutrition facts are printed for just the pork option, not the shredded chicken that we customized and substituted. For nutrition facts for the updated protein, Sunbasket provides an individual link for you to visit for more information. The back cover also shows the dish prepared with three of the various protein options, which we thought was a nice touch.
In our HelloFresh delivery, we found large and bright recipe cards, a seasonal catalog of upcoming dishes and recipe ideas, and an envelope of partner incentive discounts.
We loved the HelloFresh recipe cards printed on large, thick card stock. The front side of the recipe card includes the recipe title in large font, a big photo of the finished, plated dish, photos of each included ingredient, prep time, and calories. On the back, instructions are photographed step-by-step and the card also includes a list of household items needed, social media tags, and a number for customer service.
We preferred the HelloFresh recipe cards due to their size and clear photographed recipe instructions.
Sunbasket vs. HelloFresh: Types of Diets Served
Sunbasket places a lot of emphasis on sustainable, healthy foods. The service sources organic foods whenever possible as well as responsibly-raised meat and sustainable seafood.
As mentioned above, Sunbasket caters to many dietary preferences, including gluten-free, diabetes-friendly, Mediterranean, paleo, pescatarian, and vegetarian.
It’s important to note that HelloFresh does not offer specific plans for dietary needs, but will offer at least six vegetarian meals each week. The company curates and creates a diversity of cuisines and leaves it up to you to determine what meal may or may not be suitable. HelloFresh will use certain recipe tags to help you decide, such as calorie smart or veggie.
Sunbasket comes on top for its dedication to organic and well-sourced produce and proteins as well as its ability to cater to a vast selection of dietary needs.
Sunbasket vs. HelloFresh: Nutritional Value
Sunbasket meals are geared for healthy and nutritious weeknight eating. Full nutritional details and ingredients are easy to view when selecting your recipes, and you can also access the nutritional details about each available protein by selecting from a drop-down menu. The recipe booklet includes nutrition facts as well.
In addition to the dietary meal plans, Sunbasket offers Carb-Conscious meals under 35 net grams of carbohydrates and Lean & Clean meals, featuring dinners that are around 550 calories per serving.
HelloFresh may appeal more to the experienced home cook who is less concerned with health and weight-loss goals. The meals tend to be richer and less health-focused, although the company does offer low-calorie meals. Nutrition details can be found on each recipe page as well as where certain ingredients are sourced from around the world. In general, we found HelloFresh’s meals to be high in fat and carbohydrates.
We found that Sunbasket’s overall nutritional values, its commitment to sustainable and organic foods, and its variety of dietary needs to be stronger than HelloFresh.
Sunbasket vs. HelloFresh: Customer Service
Sunbasket has a bevy of customer service platforms, including a self-automated service for when you may encounter a delivery issue or ingredient issue; customer experts, which enable you to connect with other customers; a chatbot; and the more traditional text, email, and phone.
We tried the live chat with the friendly bot a few times and it was a bit confusing. You could only select from specific options and our conversation kept circling. Finally, we chose to connect to a live agent, but we were told “all of the humans were helping other customers" so we had an option to hear back from customer service via email or text. We chose email. We never received an email with a ticket number so we weren’t sure if our request was actually received, but we did receive an email response 24 hours later.
When we tried to engage with the bot again, it updated us that our original request was still being reviewed. We were able to ask the bot more questions, but the bot was still unable to assist.
HelloFresh offers a variety of customer service options including an FAQ section, chat, and phone support with a live waiting time alert. It also has an online form to submit an ingredient or recipe error. We spoke to a live agent on the phone and also used the live chat. Both encounters were helpful and we were able to find answers to our questions within minutes.
Ultimately, HelloFresh’s customer service department is stronger and more timely than Sunbasket.
Sunbasket vs. HelloFresh: Making Changes and Canceling
To manage your Sunbasket account, click on your name in the upper right hand corner and select “Account.” From there you can manage your delivery, meal plan, and skip or cancel. It’s pretty straightforward, but the company will ask you a few mandatory questions as to why you wish to cancel.
HelloFresh account changes can be made under “Account Settings,” and you can cancel your subscription there. If you need to skip a week, you can click “My Menu” and edit the delivery. All account changes can be made online without interacting with customer service, but HelloFresh will ask you to answer a few mandatory questions and will try to entice you to stay by offering other incentives.
Both companies allow you to cancel without engaging with customer service.
Sunbasket vs. HelloFresh: Additional Features
Sunbasket has a useful blog with recipe ideas, spotlight videos on chefs and customers, and health and wellness articles.
We also like HelloFresh’s blog, which includes cooking tips by chefs and recipe ideas.
Both companies curate intriguing and mouth-watering meals, but we preferred Sunbasket’s healthy and wholesome approach and commitment to farm-fresh ingredients and well-sourced proteins.
We spent numerous 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.
The criteria we used to evaluate each company included:
- 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