There are a number of reasons why one might enlist a prepared, and the sheer number of options available in 2022 should tell you how popular they've become. Premade meal subscriptions are convenient, of course, since you won't have to cook for at least a few meals per week. Most meal delivery services offer , too, including food that caters to special diets such as , low-calorie, and or food. But none of that means much if they don't taste good. That's where we come in.
Unlike the frostbitten TV dinners you might be picturing, the best prepared meal services produce tasty food without preservatives right before it's sent to you. Some operations send the food fresh while others flash-freeze it for you to thaw and eat when you're ready. Either way, you're likely getting a muchthan if you opted for fast food, frozen dinners from the or even restaurant takeout.
To find the absolute best meal subscription services in 2022, I did a lot of testing since there are dozens of options these days. Those range from well-known services likeand to new and niche services such as and . To save you the trouble of trying them all, I noshed on nearly all of the top options to bring you this list of the best meal delivery services, including the best overall meal subscription, the best vegetarian and vegan meal delivery, the best meal delivery for fitness enthusiasts and more.
Why prepared meal delivery is so popular in 2022
Making dinner can be enjoyable, but dinner burnout can catch up to you quickly. Since most restaurants charge a pretty premium for takeout and delivery, and meal prep can eat up precious hours of your work week, an easy meal plan from one of these services can help lighten your daily load without busting your budget. And if meal delivery elicits thoughts of overly salted instant mashed potatoes and mystery meat, know that prepared food -- both fresh and frozen -- has come a long way in the past few years.
I've tested more than 20 of the top meal delivery services and many of them churn out healthy meals that take minutes to heat and can help keep your nutrition goals on track.
For those who still want to cook but need a little helping hand, an oven-readywill cut out the prep, shopping and planning. But if it's a fully prepared meal you're after, there are services for that and we've tested some of the best-known meal delivery operations -- along with a few newbies -- to see which ones cut the mustard and which ones need a lot of ketchup just to be eaten.
Prepared meal delivery services
What exactly is a prepared meal delivery service? This sub-category of meal delivery will send fully cooked, nutritious meals made with healthy ingredients straight to your home. From there, it's as simple as simple gets: Just pull a delicious meal out of your fridge or freezer and warm it up -- no cooking -- and you've got a satisfying lunch or dinner ready to go.
Menu options are endless and certain prepared meal delivery services such as paleo diet. Even picky eaters will find something they like with all these prepared meal options.and have taken note of modern healthful eating habits, offering prepared menus and healthy meals tailored for almost any dietary preference, including carnivores, , flexitarians, and other plant-based diets. They can also cater to those with dietary restrictions who are keeping to a , low-sodium, gluten-free, organic, low carb, low-sugar or
Oven-ready meal kits
Another option to consider is deliveries of oven-ready meal kits that still have to be cooked but require very minimal prep, effort or technical skill to make a fresh meal. You may be wondering how these differ from the standard.
These "oven-ready" meal delivery plans, which fall somewhere between a classic meal kit and meal delivery, are uncooked but preassembled to be thrown together to be baked, roaster, stir-fried or dropped into the slow cooker with no major prep required for a healthy, fresh-cooked meal. Think simple dishes like roasted chicken breast with precut vegetables and a flavorful sauce. Services including Home Chef even provide the cooking tray in many of its meal kits so there is exactly zero cleaning to do after.
Just a reminder: While many of the meal plan services we sorted through are fully prepared, the meal-kit services likeand are not yet cooked, so know you'll still be turning on the oven. Please don't eat any raw chicken.
Having tried offerings from every company on this list (and many more), I've determined the best prepared meal service for each type of diner from vegans to those seeking a more restaurant-quality experience. Luckily there's a meal delivery service geared to almost every person, with budgets ranging from the affordable to the total splurge.
After testing more than 20 of the most popular premade meal subscriptions in 2022, these are the 11 best prepared meal delivery services your money can buy.
- Best overall prepared meal delivery service:
- Best meal delivery for salads:
- Best meal delivery that you still have to cook (a little):
- Best meal delivery for unique recipes:
- Best meal delivery for paleo and clean eating:
- Best meal delivery for vegetarians:
- Best meal delivery for vegans:
- Best meal delivery service for quick breakfasts and lunches:
- Best meal delivery for eating organic:
- Best splurge meal delivery for gourmet food:
- Best meal delivery for comfort food with a healthy edge:
Having tested all of the leading prepared meal delivery service options, Fresh N Lean ran away from the competition, ticking more boxes than any other. The food is healthy, thoughtfully prepared, tastes fantastic, looks appetizing and is fairly 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 food I tried was all made exceptionally well, made from simple, whole ingredients. Save for one dry chicken breast, everything I had was at least good, and most better than good, with some meals even bordering on restaurant-quality. My favorite was a tender braised beef with vegetables and coconut-cilantro sauce.
Pricing: Price per meal varies greatly depending on the plan you select as well as the number of meals per week. It's roughly $8 to $10 if you order 10 or more meals per week. If you select lunch or dinners only, it'll be less than $15 per meal. It's not the cheapest, but not the most expensive either and totally worth the extra few bucks, in my opinion.
Fresh n' Lean
Farmer's Fridge is the best meal delivery service I've tried if you want easy salads for weekday lunches. The service packs fresh salads in jars and ships them direct. It keeps the ingredients mostly separated and layered in the jar and the dressing is packed in its own baggy so nothing gets mixed up or mushy.
Farmer's Fridge also sells grain bowls, pasta entrees, wraps and breakfast parfaits but I suggest the salads. I had the chicken Caesar, Cobb and harvest salad and all three tasted fresh and portions were more substantial. If you work from home and miss those simple salad runs to Chop't or Au Bon Pain, this service will scratch the itch and keep you well fed throughout the week.
Pricing: Salads clock in at $9 or $10 each. You'll have to order a minimum of five at a time, but there is no required subscription or commitment of any kind. Shipping is an extra $6.
Home Chef is a popular meal delivery company and recently launched a line of oven-ready meals like cajun chicken with rice and beans, meant to take nearly all the work out of dinner but still delivering home-cooked food, technically speaking.
If it's oven-ready meal options you're after you'll want to choose Home Chef's Fresh & Easy meals which are focused on easy oven-ready options. Plus this meal delivery service offers grill-ready meals for summer, 15-minute entree salads for those craving lighter fare or slow cooker meals that likewise require very minimal preparation and cleanup. This new category from Home Chef is designed to be low technical skill and is a good option if you're wanting a home-cooked meal delivery plan but not interested in enlisting at a culinary institute to make a delicious meal happen.
Pricing: No matter how you slice it, a Home Chef meal delivery kit breaks down to just under $7 per serving. Most people choose six to eight meals a week, so the average cost is about $70. But you can choose as few as six servings and as many as 12 and will save slightly more with a larger order.
The best thing about CookUnity is the sheer volume of meal options you can choose from, all originating from chefs -- some famous and some not -- of different backgrounds and culinary styles. As a bona fide restaurant junkie, I would think of CookUnity not only as a tasty way to keep myself fed without having to cook but also as a fun way to learn about new kitchen personalities and restaurants for the next time I'm traveling to a new city or looking for a place to dine out locally.
I liked almost everything I tried, with recipes ranging from very healthy to more comfort-style food. There are plenty of options for vegetarians, too, but note that the menu will vary depending on where you live since they pull from local chefs to create the weekly offerings.
Pricing: Meals can be had for as cheap as $10 if you order in bulk. Smaller plans will run you more like $13 or $14 per meal, which is not a bad deal considering the quality. The big downside is that CookUnity is not currently available to all ZIP codes.
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 the cheapest service we've tried, it is actually cheaper than other meal services that use organic ingredients and quality meats and was better than most of them. You can nab a 10-pack of healthy meals for just $121.
The Pete's Paleo meals I had were all well-prepared: 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 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.
I sampled 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.
While everything I had from Mosaic was at least good, some standouts included the bean and jackfruit chili, tomato olive and feta ragout and a tangy Thai noodle dish. All the food arrives frozen but still tastes surprisingly fresh upon defrosting and eating.
Pricing: 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.
Mosaic recently added family meals too meant for three or four people. It costs $5 per serving.
Home Bistro is easily the priciest meal delivery service on the list, but that's because the gourmet meals are of a higher caliber to be certain. You'll find a bit less simple grilled chicken breast or predictable pasta dishes with Home Bistro and more complicated dinners like Chianti-braised short ribs, Peri-Peri pork tenderloins and chargrilled pomegranate salmon. There are also meals created by world-class chefs including Cat Cora and Claudia Sandoval.
Though these meals are, on the whole, more expensive than any others we tried -- comparable to takeout -- if you eat a lot of meat but don't have tons of great prepared food or delivery options in your area, this is a very good meal kit service to try. And since you can order these prepared meals a la carte, you can always save them for special occasions.
Pricing: Individual meals are between $15 and $20. You can order Home Bistro meals a la carte or in packages of seven, 10 or 20 meals to be delivered weekly or biweekly. My suggestion is to order a pack of 10 for $166 and save a few bucks per meal.
Trifecta has healthy prepared meals that cater to a number of nutrition plans and diets -- keto, paleo, low-calorie, clean eating and plant-based -- so it's perfect if you're trying to incorporate more protein and fewer empty carbs. Trifecta also uses lots of organic ingredients as well as humanely raised chicken and grass-fed beef.
You'll find mostly clean, lean meats and healthy vegetables in Trifecta meals with the occasional side of rice or grains too. While I didn't love everything I tried, there were some real standouts and everything tasted very fresh. My personal favorite was Trifecta's pesto salmon with quinoa and sautéed vegetables.
Pricing: This service is on the pricier side of the spectrum. Trifecta's Clean Meal Plan will cost you $168 for a plan that includes 10 meals. That breaks down which breaks down to more than $15 per meal. That said, if organic food with lots of fitness-friendly protein is important to you, this is the meal delivery service to try.
Freshly delivers precooked meals (fresh, not frozen) to your door. While this meal delivery service has healthy recipe options aplenty, Freshly is one of the better options if you want the occasional cheat meal or comfort food delivered to your door. Sample meal options include 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.
Pardon the word-play but Freshly did have some of the freshest tasting meals. Not everything felt restaurant quality but this company delivers a lot of crowd-pleasers, including chicken tikka masala and chili-topped macaroni and cheese. I wouldn't call the Freshly meal choices diet food, but they aren't terribly unhealthy either and a lot of them are just what you want after a long day.
Pricing: The more you order the more you save with Freshly and the difference is significant. Four meals per week break down to $11.79 per meal, but up that to 12 and the price per meal drops to $8, making it one of the more affordable meal delivery services on the list.
Editor's note: On June 19, 2022, Daily Harvest issued a recall of its lentil and leek crumbles amid reports of serious illness. As of July 14, the brand reported that "all pathogen and toxicology results have come back negative." We continue to monitor the situation and will update you as we learn new information.
Daily Harvest launched in 2015 with an army of frozen and ready-to-blend smoothies, premade soups and hearty grain bowls to keep stocked in the freezer. Some of the bowls and soups could pass as dinner, but I like these best for a quick lunch or breakfast. Depending on the specific meal, you either drop it into a saucepan or skillet to heat and eat. Or add nut milk and blend it up, for Daily Harvest's protein-packed smoothies, oat bowls and lattes.
This is a completely plant-based meal delivery service and is great if you want to simplify your week and keep meals healthy. Daily Harvest uses lots of ancient grains, oats and trendy superfoods like chia, avocado and kabocha squash in its recipes, which are satisfying and mostly well-balanced in flavor. The brand recently expanded offerings to include flatbreads, which I wasn't crazy about, and snacks and desserts such as low-calorie ice cream and protein bites.
Pricing: With so many different offerings and options you can build a box with whatever you'd like. Smoothies and chia bowls can be had for as little as $6 per serving with bigger meals like grain bowls, soups and flatbreads in the $8-$9 range. Daily Harvest usually has a nice new-customer deal good for $30 or $40 off your first order, so look out for that.
Other meal delivery services I tried
- : I liked this smoothie and bowl service, which scratches a similar itch as Daily Harvest. The difference is these meals and drinks are already made, so if you don't care to do any blending or stir-frying, I'd say give it a shot. Read my .
- : RealEats is another one I liked and don't have much bad to say about. The vacuum-sealed ready-to-heat meals were cooked well with lots of elegant flavor combos. In the end, this service a little more expensive than some others on the list with even the cheapest plan clocking in at nearly $13 per meal. But if you're looking for something slightly elevated, I say give this one a try.
- : This meal service supports area chefs by partnering with them to curate a menu of locally made and excellent eats. The food was some of the best I've tried, and I found the recipes diverse and interesting. Ultimately the cost -- meals are between $14 and $18 -- kept it out of the top. .
- : Factor's food reminds me a lot of Fresh N Lean, with tons of lean and healthy recipes per week. The subscription service proved to be plenty edible, but I found Fresh N Lean meals to have a higher overall success rate and fewer misses. .
- : This is a branch of with more diet-friendly meals than the full menu. They weren't bad, but there are other options I liked better in this lean category.
- : BistroMD sports a wide range of diet-friendly food and is aimed at those looking to lose weight. While some meals were tasty, others were bland and boring.
- : This is another keto-friendly service, but I prefer Fresh N Lean or Pete's Paleo offerings if you're looking to go low-carb.
- : Snap is another decent prepared meal service that had some big hits but also some serious misses. Read my .
- : This diet food delivery service didn't pass the taste test. Most meals were rubbery and lacked flavor.
FAQs for prepared meal delivery
Are prepared meal delivery services expensive?
Meal delivery doesn't have to cost a ton. We've uncovered cheap meal services with portions as low as $5 per serving but most are somewhere in the range of $9 to $11 per meal. Excluding unhealthy fast food, it's tough to find restaurants or takeout services that'll feed you nutritious and tasty food for so little dough. And some of these budget-friendly meal subscriptions delivered some pretty tasty fare, on par with the pricier operations.
Are prepared meal delivery services healthy?
The prepared meal subscription category has exploded with new chef-led brands offering ready-to-eat meals to fit every taste preference, diet plan, lifestyle and budget. You can find a healthy, preprepped meals for vegetarians, vegans, folks keeping to a keto diet, paleo plan or just about anything else. Finding the best healthy prepared meal service depends mostly on your own nutrition goals, but to help you narrow it down, we've been testing and tasting up a storm to bring you our top picks in a few popular prepared meal delivery categories and outlining which are healthiest. Another bonus is you can easily see all the nutritional information for every meal, which is not always the case when cooking from scratch or eating out.
Even if you're not trying to overhaul your entire diet, committing to eating healthier even a few times a week can have a huge impact on overall nutrition intake and help create good eating habits. It helps when that healthy food actually tastes good, too. But if you don't have the time to start meal-prepping and macro-counting, or learn a whole new set of healthy cooking skills, eating healthier probably feels daunting. Finding a convenient and healthy prepared meal delivery service for your healthy eating goals could be an easy way to make some strides in the right direction.
What's the difference between meal delivery services and frozen dinners?
Now, you might be wondering how meal delivery recipes differ from the frozen meals or classic TV dinners you find in the grocery store -- and it's a fair question. For one: Most are made just before shipping to you, so each individual meal is significantly fresher -- which you can often taste. Because they don't sit on grocery store freezer shelves, most are free from unhealthy preservatives or mounds of salt, too.
Lastly, these prepared meal delivery services often use higher quality ingredients and get a bit more creative with their rotating recipes, although it does vary from brand to brand. Prepared meals range anywhere from $5 to $18 per serving, depending on the service and specific meal plan you choose.
More on food and healthy lifestyles
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.