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Best healthy meal delivery services for 2021

The healthiest meal kit and meal delivery services aren't just good, they're good for you, too.

People keep healthy eating goals on track in all sorts of ways. I find the best guard against tempting takeout is to keep healthy food on hand and at the ready. It helps even more when that food actually, ya know, tastes good, which is why we're after the best healthy meal delivery options in 2021.

Meal delivery has exploded in the past few years, especially with those looking to get a well-rounded dinner on the table a little faster. We've been testing up a storm and have come across some extremely tasty -- and extremely healthy -- meal kits and meal delivery services. Any on of them will save you time and cut down on your monthly GrubHub or DoorDash spend. There also seems to be a niche meal service suited to every diet and nutrition goal imaginable: from paleo- and keto-friendly prepared meal delivery to strictly organic meal kits, vegan and vegetarian operations and more. 

You may have noticed already, but just about every meal kit and prepared meal company will claim to be a healthy one, but not all of them walk the walk. The genuinely healthy meal subscriptions I tried excelled among the competition with fresher ingredients, a wide selection of truly nutritious meals and detailed guidance and information to make tracking nutrition, carbs, calories, fat and protein easier. 

Read more: Catch the best seafood delivery services of 2021

Since proper nutrition is tied so closely to health, I'm always scanning for new healthy eating and cooking shortcuts and it doesn't get easier than a meal delivery subscription. The best food delivery services offer wholesome premade lunches and dinners or ready-to-cook healthy meal kits and can save you from your pasta- and fast food-loving self, even if just for a few nights each week. But it's not all business and broccoli: meal kits, in particular, can make dinnertime a pleasure by eliminating the grunt work and help home chefs learn new cooking techniques and recipes. Finding the right healthy meal kit can really soften the edges and add some welcome flavor to your daily cooking routine.

The case for healthy meal delivery over diets

Healthy meal kits and meal delivery services offer delicious, curated meals catered to your personal tastes and nutritional needs. One reason folks -- like me, for instance -- tend to prefer meal kits and meal delivery over classic diets is they take away some of the potential for those weak moments and self-sabotage. 

If you order three healthy meals or meal kits at the start of each week, there's a good chance you'll actually eat those meals and less of a chance you'll make a knee-jerk decision to have greasy takeout. Using one of these services for meal planning is also protection against the unavoidable whims and pitfalls that emerge as you wheel your cart down the grocery aisle. Ordering healthy meals for delivery in advance helps set up your week with quality, nutritious food -- at least for a few meals anyhow. Plus, meal kits and meal delivery services offer nutrition accountability, letting you track exactly how much you're eating and the nutritional information of each meal.

Some of the services listed here are healthy prepared meal delivery, sending fully cooked meals -- often frozen or partially frozen -- and ready to eat when you receive them. Others include health-focused meal kits with premeasured ingredients all boxed up and ready for easy weeknight cooking. There's a stark difference between meal kits and meal delivery, but both make dinnertime easier and can translate into healthier eating choices for you in 2021. Plus, we sussed out the best healthy meal services for those on special diets like keto or paleo or for those who wish to eat organic prepared meals and meal kits.

Meal kits

While Blue Apron may have been the first big player in the meal kit delivery sector, specialized kits and delivery services tailored with menu options and recipe plans and meal options for organic, low carb and keto, paleo vegetarian and vegan lifestyles followed close behind. Meal kit delivery startups such as Green Chef, Sunbasket and Purple Carrot offer vegetarian-friendly sustainable and organic meal kits with fresh ingredients for healthy home-cooked food. These healthy meal delivery services differ in offerings and target audiences, but all can be tailored to keep tasty meal kits coming week after week, even for a picky eater on a special diet.

Prepared meals

Healthy prepared meal delivery companies such as Veestro, Freshly, Splendid Spoon and Trifecta have taken things a step further, delivering delicious and fully premade healthy food including frozen meals (or sometimes partially frozen), fresh salads, grain bowls, breakfast items and more on a weekly or monthly basis. Healthy prepared meal delivery services can take the guesswork out of breakfast, lunch and dinner, which is key when you're short on time, limiting trips to the store. These ready-to-eat nutritious meal services help people -- even those with a special dietary preference or specific dietary restrictions such as food allergies -- stay on track with good diet and healthy eating habits thanks to some inventive menu options and extensive nutritional information transparency.

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As I mentioned, many of these healthy premade meal delivery services have a unique health bent or diet specialty, so no matter what version of healthy food you're looking for, it's out there. Beyond low-carb or vegetarian options are meal delivery kits for keto and paleo food, organic or vegan diets, and low-calorie meal plans that aid in losing weight. If you're looking to avoid refined sugar, go vegan or start a paleo diet, these ready-made meal services can aid your nutrition plan while ensuring you get a great tasting lunch or dinner.

I've personally tested every meal kit and prepared meal service on this list (and many more) for at least a week before making my recommendations. I also did a dive into the specific meal plan offerings and menus as they relate to health and diet as well as the various plans and pricing details to help you find the best healthy meal delivery services for your tastes and budget. 

Bon appetit!

These products and services are independently chosen by our editors and periodically updated. 

  • Best healthy meal kit service overall: Sunbasket
  • Best meal kit for the keto diet and low-carb eating: Home Chef
  • Best organic meal kit: Green Chef
  • Best meal kit for calorie counting: Blue Apron
  • Best plant-based meal kit: Purple Carrot
  • Best healthy meal delivery overall (no cooking required): Fresh n' Lean
  • Best gluten-free and paleo meal delivery (no cooking required): Pete's Paleo
  • Best vegetarian meal delivery (no cooking required): Mosaic Foods
  • Best meal delivery for gym rats (no cooking required): Trifecta
  • Best meal delivery service for an occasional cheat day (no cooking required): Freshly
  • Best meal delivery for breakfast and lunch (no cooking required): Splendid Spoon
  • Best healthy meal delivery for a cleanse (no cooking required): Sakara Life
  • Best vegan meal delivery (no cooking required): Veestro

The best healthy meal kits

Sunbasket

Of all the players, this was the best healthy meal kit service I tried. Sunbasket's healthy meal delivery focuses on, high-quality and mostly organic ingredients, meats, fish and produce in easy-to-cook recipes, many of which are designed specifically for various diets and dietary restrictions. Sunbasket meals are well-balanced and include options that cater to low-carb, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, keto, paleo meals and Mediterranean diets.

Each week this meal delivery service offers 15 to 18 dinner options on the menu. Many are interesting but not complicated to prepare, such as shrimp paella, turkey-cranberry meatballs with roasted Brussels sprouts or sweet potato taquitos with a black bean salad. My personal favorite was a light and simple pan-seared chicken thigh with Balinese spice and a cool mint-cabbage slaw. You won't be tempted by lots of mashed potatoes or thick heavy sauces in the weekly menus, though an occasional comfort food recipe is available for cheat day.

In addition to meal kits, Sunbasket has an entire market of healthy grocery items to add to your order in the form of snacks like red pepper hummus, miso broth, sous vide egg bites as well as fresh fish, chicken breast, deli meats and more. This is a really handy service, one of Sunbasket's big differentiators and why I personally chose it as the best healthy meal kit service overall.

Pricing and subscriptionEach serving runs about $12, but varies depending on how often you have meals delivered. Three dishes per week (six total servings) will run you about $72. The family plan offers better value but less selection, with just six meals to choose from per week; however, the meal delivery kit portions serve four adults (with leftovers). For the family plan, three fresh meals (12 total servings) costs about $132.

Home Chef

With more than 35 weekly meal kits and recipes to choose from on its menu, including convenient one-pan dinners and oven-ready meals that require almost no prep, Home Chef is a good choice for having simple and delicious low-carb, keto-friendly meals delivered. But with so many meals per week and customization options, you can make Home Chef work for any diet or nutrition goal.

Speaking of which, with Home Chef you can easily substitute the protein and sides in your meal kit recipe, so if a certain dish sounds tasty but you're not a big pork person or don't want potatoes, you can swap in chicken, fish or veggies as one of the recipe components. Home Chef meal kits also allow you to order double the protein in your lunch or dinner without doubling the overall portion, so it's a great low-carb meal kit option for keto or paleo diet followers. You can also choose to order antibiotic-free protein from the menu instead of the standard version for an added cost.

Home Chef does have a fair amount of comfort foods that aren't so diet-friendly including meatloaf and potatoes or heavier pasta dishes in addition to the healthy stuff, so you'll have to filter them out to remove temptation or rely on self-control. (That's a thing, right?)

Pricing and subscriptionMeals start at $7.99 per serving with additional premium Home Chef recipes and add-ons offered at market price. You can add fruit for a few extra dollars, for instance, the perfect defense against those 3 p.m. cravings or late-night snacking woes. If you order now, you can get $20 off your first four boxes.

Green Chef

Green Chef is a healthy organic meal-kit delivery service that will tailor your plan to maintain a paleo, keto, vegetarian (plant-powered) or just a steady balanced diet. Roughly 90% of the fresh ingredients included in Green Chef's meal kits are certified organic and its meats are sustainably fished, farmed and raised without hormones or antibiotics.

Like Blue Apron or Sun Basket, Green Chef provides all the organic ingredients needed for cooking a fairly simple meal -- generally in less than 30 minutes -- and thoughtful recipe cards with photos make following instructions easy, like with the simple teriyaki pork meatballs or parmesan-crusted chicken. There are some meal kit services on this list with more total options each week, but Green Chef definitely scores points for quality, healthiness and ease of use. My favorite Green Chef meal was the artichoke crab cakes with quinoa and zucchini, but everything I made was light, fresh and tasty.

Pricing and subscriptionGreen Chef's organic offerings start at around $8 a meal and allow you to customize or skip weeks when traveling and so on.

Blue Apron

Probably the most recognizable of the meal kit services, Blue Apron has a lot of healthy, fresh options on the menu -- and just a lot of options, in general. Blue Apron recently teamed up with Weight Watchers for easy-to-cook healthy recipes like sheet pan tandoori-style chicken and tilapia in lemon-caper sauce. These recipes align with its point system, making it easy for those in the program to have a healthy diet meal plan and keep track. Blue Apron offers customers roughly eight to 12 delicious meals to choose from per week including more than one vegetarian recipe option as well as a few that were created for the Weight Watchers Freestyle program. 

Separate from Weight Watchers meals, their vegetarian options get high marks in the reviews I read, but if you are full-on vegan or vegetarian, there are likely better vegetarian specialty meal kits and meal delivery services with more daily or weekly plant-based options and ingredients. Blue Apron also has one of the most user-friendly meal plan interfaces of all the meal kit services and optional wine pairings, too. 

Pricing and subscription: Price per serving ranges from $7.49 and up, with options to prepare two to four recipes per week and two or four servings per recipe. Keep an eye out for special offers.

Purple Carrot

Purple Carrot is the original plant-based meal kit service and this healthy food delivery service has a loyal and growing customer base. The 100% vegan meal kit service scores points for its inventive and interesting fresh meat-free ingredients and meal prep options like cauliflower and quinoa kofta or sticky apricot seitan stir fry. 

Purple Carrot makes it easy to sort its offerings into high protein or gluten-free meals that satisfy even nonvegetarians. Do be aware that some of the Purple Carrot meals take a bit of time and some skill to prepare but if quality, homemade vegan meal kits are a priority for you (and extra trips to the store are not), this is probably the best meal kit for you. 

In addition to the tasty vegan meals, you can add extras like banana chia pudding or overnight oats with apricot, goji berries and cashew butter to your weekly delivery.

Pricing and subscription: Purple Carrot meals cost you roughly $12 per serving, which isn't exactly cheap for vegan food, but you can choose between two plans designed for either singles or couples (three two-serving meals per week) or a family (two six-serving meals per week). 

The best healthy prepared meal delivery

Fresh n' Lean

This isn't just one of the best healthy meal delivery services, it's one of the best meal delivery services, period. I personally tested all of the leading prepared meal companies, and Fresh n' Lean ran away from the pack, ticking more boxes than any other. The meals are healthy and cooked well, they taste fantastic and look appetizing, too. Plus, the service is pretty affordable depending on the plan you select.

Fresh n' Lean has five meal plans to help keep folks on track with their specific nutrition goals, including low-carb, vegan, paleo and protein plus options. The prepared meals I tried were all made from simple, whole ingredients and tasted like quality home-cooked food. While I liked pretty much everything from Fresh n' Lean from the tofu on down, my favorite was a tender braised beef with vegetables in coconut-cilantro sauce.

Pricing and subscription: Fresh n' Lean prices per meal will vary depending on the diet plan you select as well as the number of meals per week. It's roughly $10 to $12 per meal if you order 10 or more meals per week. If you select lunch or dinners only, it'll be more like $15 per meal. Fresh n' Lean is not the cheapest meal delivery, but it's not the most expensive either and is totally worth the extra money, in my opinion.

David Watsky/CNET

Pete's won me over in a week-long taste test, notching its place as one of the best healthy, organic meal delivery services I've yet to try. While it's not particularly budget-friendly at around $14 a meal, it is actually cheaper than other meal services that use organic ingredients and quality meat and the food was better than most of them. 

Pete's Paleo meals were all well-prepared too. Meats were tender, vegetables (mostly) cooked to proper doneness and all the flavors worked. The food wasn't overly seasoned and the recipes were mild and maybe even on the safe side -- but that's nothing a few shakes of hot sauce can't fix.

If you're in training, avoiding gluten or keeping to a paleo plan and looking for lots of protein, healthy fats and nutrient-filled carbs such as sweet potatoes and beets, Pete's Paleo should hit the spot. Pete's has lots of ordering options and the meals are made to freeze so if you don't want to subscribe, you can keep an inventory on hand for those moments you need a quick fix.

Pricing and subscription: Depending on the meal plan you choose your price per meal will change a bit, but most end up being somewhere around $14 a meal. There's also the Pete's Paleo Lite plan, which has smaller portions and cheaper meals. As with other meal-delivery services, the more food you order at once the lower the price per meal drop. But strangely, there's no discount for subscribing to this service. 

There are also prepared bundles of meals and a la carte options under the Eat What You Love section, so your best bet might be to peruse all the different meal plans and see if one seems like a good fit. 

David Watsky/CNET

I tested a week's worth of Mosaic meals and concluded that for plant-based meal delivery, it doesn't get better than this. Mosaic is new on the scene and, to date, is the best 100% plant-based meal delivery service I've tried. Of the nine Mosaic meals I tried, none were bad and I enjoyed almost all of them and would gladly eat them again. 

Personal favorites were the tender jackfruit chili and the olive, pepper and feta ragout, but there were many more that hit the spot. There were also no mushy vegetables -- a plague in meal delivery -- and the meat stand-ins like jackfruit, tofu and vegan sausage were used in creative ways and cooked extremely well.

Pricing and subscription: Mosaic is also affordable when compared with other services. Most meals clock in at $9, which isn't bad for what you get, and they'll make for a nice respite on those busy days you don't want to cook but don't want to spend $20 on takeout either. You choose as many meals as you'd like from a menu of about 28 lunches and dinners, six soups and six oat bowls, but there is a minimum order for any shipment of $70 (about eight meals). That said, since you can have your meals sent every four weeks, it would break down to just a few per week -- a perfect option if you're looking to just try the service out.

As of now, Mosaic meals are available for delivery to about 80% of the country, including both coasts and most of the Midwest. Before pressing on, you may want to check your ZIP code here to see if it's available where you live.

Trifecta

It's not hard to tell that this meal delivery service is born out of the CrossFit movement. From the brand's motto "Eat Like You Train" to the fitness imagery and, of course, the food. Trifecta offers a huge menu of lean meals with lots of protein such as grilled salmon and green veggies, chicken and quinoa bowls and flat iron steak. Trifecta uses very high-quality ingredients too, including grass-fed beef, free-range poultry and sustainably caught seafood. 

There are several plans including Clean Eating, Paleo, Keto, Vegan and Vegetarian meal plans, and while Trifecta meals are not the most inventive I've had, they all tasted solid and fresh -- which is key for any prepared food delivery service. If you're just looking for well-portioned, high-protein meals without a lot of fuss or out-of-box flavors for after your cross-training session, this is a great meal delivery for athletes. You can order breakfast from Trifecta too but my suggestion would be to stick to lunches and dinners. 

Pricing and subscription: Plans start at $108 per week for seven meals. This may seem pricey for what it is, but considering the quality of ingredients, it's not terribly expensive. You can order as many as 28 meals per week if you want Trifecta to deliver four meals a day, perhaps for a friend or, ahem, second dinner. Four per day for one week will run you about $386.

Freshly

Freshly is a simple yet rather consistent ready-to-eat meal delivery service (not a meal kit). And it's fresh, like the name says. Freshly's meals eliminate any prep needed for services such as Blue Apron and HelloFresh, serving single-portion meals for the health-conscious person who may not have time or interest in cooking. 

Freshly's meals come frozen, to be heated up in a microwave or conventional oven. The average meal option has about 500 calories per serving and is gluten-free, all-natural and free of refined sugar. A few ready-to-eat meals from Freshly's menu include a hearty penne Bolognese bake, chicken with coconut curry and turkey mushroom meatloaf. 

While not every meal would be considered "healthy" (by most standards, anyway) most are, and you can easily feed yourself or your family nutritious meals without repeating dishes over and over. That said, this may not be the perfect service if you struggle with willpower because those pasta meals are just a click away. 

Freshly recently introduced FreshlyFit -- a healthier spin on the original meal delivery service -- but I did not care for the meals when I tried them earlier in the year.

Pricing and subscriptionFreshly meal plans start at $50 for four meals ($12.50 per meal) and get cheaper the more you order. If you go big with the 12-meals-per-week plan, each one breaks down to just $9.

This is definitely the best meal delivery for ready-to-go, healthy breakfast and lunches. Splendid Spoon is hoping to entice folks who want to keep it simple, easy and nutritious for breakfast and lunch with its ready-made smoothies, soups and grain bowls delivered to your door weekly. 

Splendid Spoon puts an emphasis on nourishing ingredients but doesn't slack on taste because of it. Soups include cauliflower tikka and Mexican tomato, while smoothies come in tasty combos like almond butter and jelly, blueberry acai and a green matcha smoothie with spirulina, ginger and turmeric. Soups and smoothies are loosely categorized by their overall intended effect, like "heal," "energize" and "refresh." Splendid Spoon also offers a full-day soup cleanse add-on to "reset" your system.

As much as I loved all of Splendid Spoons soups and smoothies, do be aware that many can be high in sugar, so if cutting back on the white stuff is a goal in 2021, you may want to look elsewhere.

Pricing and subscriptionSplendid Spoon offers a few options, like a breakfast plan with five smoothies per week (most are relatively low in sugar) or a lunch plan, which is five days of veggie-packed soups, stews or grain bowls for $65. Or get the whole shebang: An entire five days' worth of smoothies and lunches (soups and grain bowls) for $95. It is a subscription, but you're free to cancel at any time, including after the first week if you want to just try it out. The brand's most popular plan called the Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Reset includes five noodle bowls and the one-day soup cleanse for $185

Sakara Life

Sakara Life is a vegan and organic meal delivery system that sends fresh (never frozen) harvest bowls, soups, salads, breakfast items and snacks to your door via messenger service so you don't have to think about cooking or preparing any meals whatsoever. 

I tried Sakara for a week and the food was quite tasty with bold flavors and fantastic sauces. It was pretty, too, with bright colors and fresh greens. The Sakara food came in two shipments a week so it was always fresh and the meals kept me interested with global dishes that included vegan moussaka, roasted peach chana masala and ginger almond noodle bowls.

The big downside with Sakara Life is the price, and the cheapest plan is still $54 a day for just two meals. For me, this vegan meal delivery service might be more practical for a shorter cleanse or to schedule for a specific week when you know you're going to be crazy busy but don't want your healthy eating habits to suffer. If you can afford it I say give it a try. The food was all great -- like upscale spa food -- and definitely healthy.

Pricing and subscription. If you choose five days of meals it breaks down to $70 a day and if you choose just two or three days per week it's $80. A more affordable option is picking just lunch and dinner, which nets out to $54 a day -- still not cheap by any stretch. All of this includes shipping.

The five-day Level II Detox cleanse is a whopping $400 but includes meals, supplements, detox teas, detox water drops, snacks and more. The 20-day Bridal Cleanse is a gulp-inducing $1,395.

Veestro

Prepped, frozen and vegetarian (meaning there's no cooking or assembly required), Veestro's meals are shipped and can be heated up in either a microwave, skillet or conventional oven (conventional oven or skillet suggested by me). Veestro's plant-based meal delivery service is to be one of the more affordable meal delivery company options, with 15 meals a week (three meals a day) clocking in at just $130. Veestro has a truly massive selection of vegetarian and vegan meals, and you build a box of 10, 20 or 30 meals at a time to be delivered in bulk when you want.

If calorie-counting is important to your health goals, Veestro tries to keep the three daily meals in its "Weight Loss" program around or less than 1,200 calories with dishes like veggie red curry with tofu, seitan soba noodles, meatless shepherd's pie and breakfast burritos. Once you get your first plan, you can start to customize, reordering dishes you liked and skipping those you didn't. 

I thought the quality of food was fairly high for what it is and Vesstro uses more interesting ingredients and flavors than some of the others I tried. I wouldn't eat them every night, but to have three or four on hand in the fridge or freezer for those busy nights is heaven when you need it most.

Pricing and subscriptionThere are several options. A custom or chef's choice plan of 10 meals cost $117. Twenty meals cost $217 and 30 meals will cost you $297. The weight loss plan, which includes three meals a day for five days, recurring, is $176 for five days' worth of meals or $227 for seven days' worth of food. 

More food and health delivery recommendations

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.