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Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon review: Thoughtful meal kit recipes for seasoned foodies

Martha Stewart's meal kit service isn't pandering to your fair-weather diet demands. And that's a good thing.

Martha Stewart already has her hand in nearly every pot when it comes to cooking, baking and home entertaining so it wasn't at all surprising when she jumped into the meal kit game in 2016, attempting to elevate the concept pioneered by the likes of Blue Apron. With Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon, the design and kitchen maven has focused on targeting home cooks and foodies with inventive recipes meant for basic skills and discerning palates.

While some meal kits are designed to attract newbies with simple recipes that take only a short time to prepare, Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon meal kits are a bit fancier and feature recipes of Martha's own creation. Many are plucked from her cookbook or recipe Rolodex, although none are so hoity-toity that you'll need high technical skill or culinary training to make them.

8.6

Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon

Like

  • Thoughtful recipes you won't find everywhere
  • Even the quick recipes felt special
  • Extremely fresh ingredients
  • Not a lot of plastic waste

Don't Like

  • On the expensive side if you don't order many meals per week
  • Market add-ons are not very exciting
  • Shipping is $9 per box

Other meal kit companies such as Sunbasket, Green Chef and Gobble have sought to entice this same audience of home chefs looking for new and interesting recipes by saving them the effort of shopping and sending preportioned ingredients. Curious as I am about all things meal kit, I wanted to know just how good Martha's meal kits were -- and if they were worth the money. So I tested a week's worth of recipes to bring you this review of Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon home meal kit delivery.

How Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon works

Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon operates similar to most others in the category. Unlike some meal kit services, there are no plans to choose from like keto, low-calorie or vegetarian. The only decision you have to make is whether you'd like meals for two or four people and how many meals per week: two, three, four, five or six. 

Your box of meal kit ingredients is delivered once a week -- unless you skip a week, which is easy to do -- and you can either manually select recipes or let Martha Stewart personally choose them for you. OK, just kidding: She's not your personal meal concierge, but you can let the brand select meals if you prefer a little mystery. You can select either a Tuesday or Wednesday delivery, and the boxes will arrive between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. 

There are about 29 recipes to choose from per week, and most meal kits take less than 40 minutes to complete. Before you choose a recipe for delivery you'll see all the steps involved, the time it takes to complete and detailed nutritional information to help you decide. 

Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon Pricing

Meals per week Two people (price per serving) Four people (price per serving)
2 $11 $9
3 $9.50 $8
4 $9 $8
5 $9 $7.50
6 $8.50 $7

What are Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon meals like

As you might imagine since Martha Stewart helped design the concept and created many of the recipes, there are some really interesting, high-end and gourmet dishes to choose from. Happily, most are still simple to make. There are a good many healthy recipes, although calorie counting is not the focus of this meal kit service. If you're trying to use meal kits to stick to the keto diet, lose weight or cut gluten or calories, you might be better off with a service that has built-in filters and diet meal plans like Green Chef, Home Chef or HelloFresh.

Read more: Best healthy meal delivery services for 2021

You'll find plenty of warming comfort dishes like skillet chicken pot pie, French onion beef meatloaf and chicken and broccoli lo mein with Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon. There are also some rudimentary and somewhat subjective filters like "healthy," "one-pot" and "kid-friendly" to help you sort through recipes.

martha-and-marley-spoon
Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon

Of the 29 or so recipes, about seven of them are vegan or vegetarian options more creative than most vegan meal kits I've tried. Some examples of the plant-based offerings: oven-baked potato samosa pockets or Greek lentil soup with feta garlic flatbread. There are also a couple of seafood recipes each week -- generally salmon or shrimp -- that don't cost extra to select. 

One thing I noticed is the brand uses lots of recognizable and respected name-brand ingredients like BelGioioso parmesan cheese and Cento canned tomatoes, in case that's important to you. There are also a few grocery add-ons each week like desserts, egg bits, snacks and protein packs of chicken, beef or seafood to help with meal planning outside of your kits.

How easy are Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon meals to prepare?

My meals ran the gamut from the super simple to the slightly more complicated, and it's really up to you during the recipe selection process. 

The skillet chicken parmesan I made, for instance, had a number of steps like preparing the chicken, cooking it, making the sauce and preparing the pasta (which had its own ingredients). I have a decent amount of cooking experience so I didn't find it challenging, but some beginners might. Other meals I made like the nourishing chicken soup and miso salmon dish were extremely simple: tasty and perfect for a weeknight when you don't feel like fussing much or taking time to cook. 

skillet-chicken-parm

Skillet chicken parmesan before I got cookin'.

David Watsky/CNET

The recipes I cooked and how they went

Skillet chicken parmesan with casarecce and sauteed spinach: This recipe was good and very comforting, though it certainly had a healthy share of carbs and calories. The red sauce was very simple and the chicken cutlets weren't breaded so it felt a little healthier than normal chicken parm but not quite enough to be really, truly healthy. I had lots of leftovers, which was nice. 

Honey miso salmon with roasted carrots and Brussels sprouts: This one was great and healthy, but it wasn't a very out-of-the-box recipe. The salmon was high-quality and tasted super fresh.

Restorative chicken soup with sweet potato kale and quinoa: A very tasty and hearty soup I made and ate all week. The shredded chicken was already cooked which I was surprised by, but also appreciated since it was still moist and flavorful. This entire meal was simple to prepare and felt like nourishing medicine with all those superfoods. 

skillet-chicken-parm-copy

I was eating chicken parm and pasta leftovers all week.

CNET / David Watsky

Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon recipes, support materials 

I found the recipes clear, concise and easy to follow. There's some nice background on the ingredients, too: My salmon recipe provided some context on miso for anyone who may be unfamiliar with the fermented paste, for instance. The Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon app is also helpful with lots of information about each recipe and gives you the ability to order, pause, cancel or skip a week right from your mobile device. 

miso-salmon

All the ingredients for a healthy miso salmon with roasted veggies.

CNET / David Watsky

What makes Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon different from other meal kit services?

One thing to like about this service is it doesn't try to be anything other than good. There's no pandering to fad diets or giving too much autonomy to users to change recipes or swap out meats. The meal kit service's proposition is that the culinary team has come up with thoughtful, mostly healthy recipes they think you'll enjoy -- and they ask you to put your trust in them. I wouldn't go so far as to call it stuffy or stubborn, but there is something very Martha Stewart about it. 

In that respect, it reminds me a bit of Sunbasket. That meal kit service also tries to keep the integrity of the original recipes they've created and while it might not please everyone, I think it pays off in the end for those who appreciate good food.

miso-salmon-done

The finished product. 

CNET / David Watsky

Who is Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon good for?

This is one of the best meal kit services for foodies. If you're looking to learn interesting new recipes that are gourmet and approachable, Martha Stewart's meal kits are a good pick. It's also a solid choice for a home cook with some kitchen experience looking to hone new skills or work with new ingredients. 

A lot of the recipes are kid-friendly so these meal kits would work well for families. And with as many as seven plant-based recipes each week, this is a good meal kit service for vegans, vegetarians or those trying to sprinkle in a few more nonmeat dinners per week.

Who is Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon not good for?

If you're an extremely picky eater or are trying to keep to a specific diet like keto, low-carb, gluten-free or low-calorie I would not suggest these meal kits. It's also not a good meal delivery service if you're simply looking to get dinner on the table each week and don't care about the cooking process, since some of the recipes are involved.

How much do Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon meal kits cost?

For two people receiving two meal kits per week, pricing starts at $11 per serving ($53 total) and then gets cheaper per portion the more meals per week you order. Six meals per week for two people, for instance, drops down to just $8.50 per serving ($110 total).

Meals plans with servings for four people are cheaper still, and it'll be just $7 per serving if you order six meals per week with servings for four people. That makes this a fairly affordable option for families looking for meal kits almost every night. Shipping is a $9 flat rate no matter how much you order.

chicken-soup

A healthy chicken soup that fed me for a few days.

David Watsky/CNET

Packaging and environmental friendliness 

I found Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon to be on the eco-friendly side of the meal kit spectrum. There was some single-use plastic waste, as there always is, but nothing excessive -- and the meals were packed in paper bags. The boxes, coolers and ice packs were also recyclable.

Changing, skipping or canceling your meal kits order

Between the website and mobile app, Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon makes it very easy to skip weeks, change out recipes or pause your subscription. Any changes must be made six days prior to the delivery date.

marley-spoon-meals
Martha & Marley Spoon

The final verdict on Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon

Being a Martha Stewart-conceived meal kit project, I had lofty expectations for this service and it mostly met them. When I flip through the menu each week, it boasts one of the highest percentages of recipes that make me go "ooh, that sounds good" right up there with Sunbasket (my favorite meal kit service). Most importantly, all the recipes I made delivered on the promise of a tasty and interesting meal. There was not a lot of blah factor and I very much appreciate that.

Martha's meal kit service also includes some thoughtful touches that others don't, like the quick explainers for ingredients new chefs might not be as familiar with. The produce, meats and fish were also some of the freshest I'd received from a meal kit service and that goes a long way in creating a truly delicious dinner. The pricing is fair for what you get and if you're cooking for a large group, it actually gets rather affordable per serving.

Unlike Sunbasket, the market add-ons are fairly limited, and I wished there were more to choose from than just some basic egg bites and overnight oats. That said, if you've been wanting to try a meal kit service with a range of healthy, hearty and comforting meals and you already have the cooking basics down, I'd say give Martha's meals a whirl. 

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.