Best Cheap Meal Delivery Services in 2022 - CNET

2022-07-11 10:23:47 By : Mr. bin chen

Your guide to a better future

Think meal delivery has to be expensive? Think again. These tasty treats are as cheap as $5 a serving.

Senior Editor / Home and Kitchen

I live in Brooklyn where I write about food subscriptions, cooking, kitchen gadgets and commerce. Anything with sesame is my all-time favorite food this week.

Meal delivery services can help a lot in the kitchen, but they can also make a significant dent in your wallet. It can be hard to find a balance, but there are options. We've found and researched some of the most affordable meal delivery services available, and you don't have to worry about food quality -- they still offer delicious recipes for comforting, healthy meals.

It's no secret that the best meal kit or prepared meal services reduce your workload in the kitchen. But what do they do for your wallet? If you want to enjoy a meal delivery service on a budget, you've come to the right place. We've found some of the cheapest meal delivery services available today -- and they still offer delicious recipes from comfort food favorites to organic, healthy meals. 

Meal kits have seen a serious uptick in customers during the pandemic. Subscriptions for meal kits from companies such as Blue Apron , Green Chef  and Sunbasket  aren't new, but most of them are on the pricey side, with recipes costing as much as $12 or $13 per serving. Dinnerly and EveryPlate , both of which clock in at $5 a serving, are the most budget-friendly outfits. 

Over the past few years, we've tested nearly every meal kit delivery  and prepared meal delivery service  we could get our oven mitts on, and that includes the best budget meal delivery services. Many of the menu options for the meal delivery services we've listed include nutritious plant-based food  or high-protein recipes with lots of veggies and lean meats. 

There are also some midrange options to consider such as HelloFresh and Home Chef . These may cost a few bucks more per serving but allow more customization and have more recipes to choose from. Most of these meal delivery services also offer vegetarian options or customization for those who don't eat meat. There are meal kits that cater to a specialized diet, such as keto, paleo, low-calorie or gluten-free. 

No matter your budget, tastes or schedule, there are affordable and tasty meal delivery services to make cooking for you or the family easier. We tested all the cheapest meal kits and prepared meal services on this list to help you decide which one is best.

Read more: Are Meal Kits More Expensive Than Buying the Groceries? I Did the Math

EveryPlate is the cheapest meal kit service, with recipes starting at $5 a serving -- sometimes less if you snag a sign-up offer. I tested EveryPlate recently and was pleasantly surprised. You won't find a lot of foofy, upscale cuisine or complicated recipes, but you will get a lot of satisfying, rib-sticking meals such as hoisin meatloaf with mashed potatoes, cheeseburgers, umami pork chops and sweet potato quesadillas. 

EveryPlate meal kits are easy to prepare and I loved everything I made, making it my pick for the best budget-friendly meal kit in 2022. For more, read my full review of EveryPlate.

Clocking in at a comparable $5.59 a serving is Dinnerly, another great cheap meal kit. Much like EveryPlate, Dinnerly has a lot of comfort foods such as ravioli with spinach and parmesan sauce, carne asada tacos and chicken pad thai. 

I tested the affordable meal kits from Dinnerly and all were easy to prepare, although -- on average -- they involved more work than EveryPlate's recipes. There were also a few big misses among the hits. But Dinnerly is a bit more dynamic than its cheap counterpart and allows you to add on protein packs of chicken breast, ground beef or shrimp for meal planning along with a small market of snacks and desserts, which you can tack on at an extra cost. 

Price: Starts at $5 a serving, plus $9 shipping.

HelloFresh is a bit more per serving than EveryPlate or Dinnerly -- $8 a serving if you order meals for four -- but this budget-friendly meal delivery service affords you more recipe options and I'd contend the recipes and ingredients are of a higher caliber too. HelloFresh has as many as 25 dinner meal kits per week, so it is nearly impossible not to find something you'll like. HelloFresh also has five or six plant-based recipes a week making it the best cheap meal kit service for vegetarians. 

When I tried HelloFresh's meal kits recently, I made the meatloaf a la mom, barramundi with corn and potato hash and pork chops with honey butter. I liked all three. Check out my full review of HelloFresh for everything you need to know about the meal delivery service.

Price: Plans start at $8 a serving.

At just a tick cheaper than HelloFresh is Home Chef. I tried Home Chef a few months back and loved the flexibility and customization the meal kit subscription allows for. For instance, you can swap the protein in just about any recipe or double the portion if you're expecting company or want leftovers to eat for lunch during the week. Home Chef also has affordable oven-ready meal kits which only need to be assembled in a tray and cooked -- no chopping or prep required.

A few Home Chef recipes I tried and liked were the moo shu pork tacos and bruschetta shrimp risotto which had a ton of garlic but was far easier to make than I expected. Read my full review of Home Chef. 

Price: Most meals are $9 a serving. New customers will get $100 off spread across their first few deliveries.

Read our Home Chef review.

I sampled about nine of Mosaic Food's plant-based prepared meal offerings and the vegetarian prepared meal delivery service had an astoundingly high hit rate. Mosaic uses big and interesting global flavors and employs creative use of meat substitutes such as tofu, jackfruit, cauliflower and vegan sausages to create tasty and satisfying vegetarian meals -- even for this omnivore. There are some vegan meals, but many of them use dairy products, so vegans must choose their Mosaic meals more carefully.

Mosaic meals are also simple to order from with a clear, concise website and no overly complicated plans. You simply choose the meals you want with a minimum order of $70 (about eight meals) and then decide how often you want them delivered -- weekly, biweekly or monthly. You can change the meals, pause or cancel your subscription at any time. 

Price: Most Mosaic meals for one are $10 with soups going for $6 and oat bowls for $6. Mosaic also recently added family meals meant for three or four people that clock it at just $5 a serving.

If you desire to do exactly no cooking at all but want tasty meals delivered at an affordable price, Freshly is where it's at. Freshly sends precooked meals (fresh, not frozen) to your door in a one-time order or subscription. While this cheap meal delivery service has healthy recipe options aplenty, Freshly is one of the better options if you want the occasional cheat meal or serving of comfort food. 

Penne bolognese, peppercorn steak with mashed potatoes and chicken casserole are just some of the heartier choices you can have delivered and at the ready. But there are also healthier, low-cal Freshly meals to keep yourself honest. 

Price: Freshly is just $9 per meal when you order 12 meals per week. 

Daily Harvest isn't a traditional meal kit company but rather sends healthy, plant-based smoothies, soups and grain bowls to your door, starting at $7 a meal. While the other options on our list are geared towards dinnertime, Daily Harvest is best to have affordable (and easy) breakfast and lunch meals ready to heat and eat. 

When I tried Daily Harvest, I loved the interesting smoothie combos such as a chocolate blueberry smoothie with greens, banana and almond butter. The heartier meals are great too like the cauliflower rice and pesto harvest bowl with cashews and spinach. You won't need more than a saucepan, toaster or blender to prepare most of the meals and most can be made in as little as 5 minutes. Read my full Daily Harvest review here.

Price: Meals are between $7 and $12 and there's no subscription required. 

Read our Daily Harvest review.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.