How to Choose the Best Meal Subscription Box for You

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How to Choose the Best Meal Subscription Box for You

When a crazy schedule leaves no room for a grocery trip, it's time to call in the pros. These meal subscription boxes offer fresh ingredients for fast, so all you have to do is cook and eat.

01 of 06

Blue Apron

Blue Apron
Blue Apron

Cost: $10 per serving; blueapron.com

Delivery: Boxes are delivered once a week and subscriptions can be paused at any time.

Meal subscription box details: Arguably the best-known meal-in-a-box service, Blue Apron meal subscription boxes feature natural meats raised with an antibiotic- and hormone-free diet, and most of the other ingredients are organic and locally-sourced, when possible. In 40 to 60 minutes you'll have a completed dish, with servings averaging between 500 and 700 calories. Vegetarian, family-sized (with four servings), and WW Freestyle-appropriate meal subscription boxes are also available. If you're seeking a beverage pairing, Blue Apron offers a monthly wine subscription box.

Recipe cards for that week's meals are included in the box, and also available on the company's site if any go MIA. You'll find an online archive of every single Blue Apron recipe there, too, dishing up additional healthy eating ideas for your next shopping trip. The meals won't take forever cook, but you'll still spend a decent amount of time in the kitchen—somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 minutes. If you use cooking as a way to decompress and chill out after a long day, you'll be set. If not, keep reading.

02 of 06

HelloFresh

HelloFresh
HelloFresh

Cost: $9 per serving; hellofresh.com

Delivery: Get a box of three meals delivered weekly, with the option to pause orders at any time.

Meal subscription box details: HelloFresh delivers three meals' worth of pre-portioned, seasonal ingredients sourced in an insulated box with step-by-step ingredients. Each meal comes with enough for two portions, and the company caters to vegetarians and families (four servings per meal at less than $8 per person), too. Order a 6-pack box of wine bottles per month separately, if you like.

Meal cards list in-depth recipe instructions, along with nutrition facts. Each meal clocks in between 500 and 700 calories. The recipes tend to be fairly simple to make, so if you're more of a one-pot kind of cook, or just don't like spending your free time in front of a stove, this is might be a solid meal subscription box for you.

03 of 06

Sun Basket

Sun Basket
Sun Basket

Cost: $12 per serving; sunbasket.com

Delivery: Boxes are delivered to your doorstep each week in recyclable and compostable materials that are designed to preserve ingredient freshness.

Meal subscription box details: Sun Basket promises clean, sustainable meals for a variety of health-conscious eating styles. (Speaking of sustainable eating, here's what makes a great meal prep recipe.) People who are really specific about how they like to eat and want to know exactly where their food came from will adore Sun Basket. Choose from gluten-free, paleo, and lower-calorie options. Sun Basket places an emphasis on ethical sourcing of animal products and the best organic produce, which means you never have to wonder about quality. They also provide very specific nutrition info about each meal, in case you're counting macros or are simply curious.

04 of 06

Purple Carrot

Purple Carrot
Purple Carrot

Cost: $12 per serving; purplecarrot.com

Delivery: Meal subscription boxes are delivered weekly—the shipping cost is included in the plan. Switch plans or cancel any time.

Meal subscription box details: Vegetarians, vegans, and plant-based athletes will love Purple Carrot. The service offers traditional plant-based meals as well as the TB12 Performance Meal plan, which is Tom Brady–approved. TB's meals are higher in protein and always gluten-free, while the regular meal plan places an emphasis on simple, wholesome ingredients.

If your breakfast and lunch menus could use some love as well, Purple Carrot now offers add-ons that will fuel you through the earlier part of the day. All morning and midday meals take five minutes or less to prep.

05 of 06

PeachDish

PeachDish
PeachDish

Cost: $12.50 per serving; peachdish.com

Delivery: Weekly deliveries ship out on Tuesday and will arrive at your doorstep by Thursday, if not sooner. Pausing orders is also an option.

Meal subscription box details: Influenced by its Atlanta home base in both name and taste, PeachDish is all about delivering seasonal, Southern-influenced recipes across the country. Think Southern Food 2.0 rather than Paula Deen. The company prides itself on taking advantage of the region's long growing season to provide whole food-based dishes that you can share with others—an aspect accentuated by their addition of a "surprise treat" with every shipment. And new to the mix: Pantry kits that you can store even longer. Just add fresh produce and meats in the recommended quantities on the shopping list.

Customize your meal subscription box by selecting from nine different recipes each week (this always includes at least two meatless options), and add on extra grocery items from PeachDish's Market section, if desired. They'll deliver it all to your door. Counting calories or excited about all things antioxidants? Opt for the SuperFood recipes that are generally around 500 calories each, lower in sodium and saturated fat, and filled with at least four health-promoting superfoods (think: collards, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and more).

06 of 06

Home Chef

Home Chef
Home Chef

Cost: Dinners $10 per serving, lunches $8 per serving; homechef.com

Delivery: Weekly deliveries come in recyclable boxes lined with compostable insulation. Ingredients are organized by recipe to streamline prep. The meal subscription box plan can be skipped or canceled at any time.

Meal subscription box details: Home Chef is ideal for busy people who want to cook but don't want to spend a ton of time thinking about it. Home Chef also offers a "plan ahead" option, which allows you to see the available meals for the next five weeks. That way, you can meal plan like a pro, knock out all of your choices at once, and not have to give brain space to it again for over a month. The company also realizes that lots of new cooks use their service, so they have a kitchenware section on their site with cooking tools you might need to make their dishes.

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