Meal delivery services can be convenient, but it can be difficult to find the cheapest meal delivery service for those on a tight budget. The most affordable options offer meals from $5 per serving.

This article will describe how meal delivery works and outline some of the most affordable options to try, listing the lowest-priced options first. It will also examine the benefits and potential drawbacks of signing up for a meal delivery service.

A quick look at the cheapest meal delivery services

The cheapest meal delivery services for 2024

The sections below explore some of the most affordable meal delivery services, beginning with the lowest-priced option. This article bases all prices on a plan offering three recipes per week with two servings each. 

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Best for families: Dinnerly

Dinnerly logo on green background
  • Price: from $4.99 per serving
  • Special diets: low calorie, keto, and low carb
  • Delivery times: vary by location

Dinnerly claims that it uses fewer ingredients per recipe than other meal delivery companies, which helps cut costs. The company also has a marketplace where customers can order groceries.

According to Dinnerly, the recipes are quick and easy to cook. It also offers child-friendly options.

Dinnerly does not provide physical copies of its recipes. Digital-only recipe cards may be unsuitable for those without a reliable internet connection or those who do not have a laptop or smartphone.

The table below breaks down the cost of each plan size without special discounts applied.

Plan sizePrice per servingWeekly cost, including shipping
2 meals for 2 people$8.04$44.15
3 meals for 2 people$7.04$54.23
4 meals for 2 people$6.54$64.31
5 meals for 2 people$6.44$76.39
6 meals for 2 people$6.24$86.87
2 meals for 4 people$7.14$69.11
3 meals for 4 people$6.14$85.67
4 meals for 4 people$5.89$106.23
5 meals for 4 people$5.59$123.79
6 meals for 4 people$4.99$131.75

Discounts

According to Dinnerly’s website, new customers can order 24 meals for $1.99 each, and students can get 50% off their first box with free shipping through StudentBeans.

Pros

  • Prices per serving can be very affordable.
  • Introductory offers reduce costs to around $2 per serving.
  • People can choose from more than 100 recipes each week.

Cons

  • Recipe cards are available only online.
  • The website does not clearly list diet-specific menus.
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Best for students: EveryPlate

EveryPlate logo on green background
  • Price: from $4.99 per serving
  • Special diets: vegetarian
  • Delivery times: between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

EveryPlate offers ongoing discounts for students, a feature that is not widespread among other brands. This means students can get discounts for 52 weeks. This offer is available through UNiDAYS.

EveryPlate claims that its insulated boxes can keep meals at the correct temperature for 48 hours after delivery.

The company’s menu is unsuitable for people with certain dietary restrictions, such as those following vegan or pescatarian diets.

The table below details each plan without discounts applied.

Plan sizePrice per servingWeekly cost, including shipping
3 meals for 2 people$7.49$44.94
4 meals for 2 people$6.99$55.92
5 meals for 2 people$6.49$64.90
6 meals for 2 people$5.99$71.88
3 meals for 4 people$5.99$71.88
4 meals for 4 people$5.49$87.84
5 meals for 4 people$4.99$99.80
6 meals for 4 people$4.99$119.76

Discounts

EveryPlate offers meals at $1.49 per serving for new customers who opt for the four-person, five-serving plan. Students can get 75% off their first box, as well as free shipping, and 15% off subsequent boxes for 52 weeks.

Pros

  • The service offers generous student discounts.
  • The packaging can keep food at the correct temperature for 48 hours.
  • New customers can get meals at a very low cost.

Cons

  • The brand does not offer a wide range of menus for special diets.
  • Some discounts apply only to larger orders.
  • The menu is unsuitable for vegans and pescatarians.
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Best for dairy- and gluten-free meals: Daily Harvest

The Daily Harvest logo on a green textured background.
  • Price: from $5.99 per serving
  • Special diets: caters specifically to dairy- and gluten-free diets
  • Delivery times: depend on location

All Daily Harvest meals are dairy- and gluten-free. People can also buy snacks, lattes, and smoothies.

Meals arrive ready-made, and customers can heat them in an oven or microwave.

Daily Harvest meals include:

  • Red Cabbage and Buckwheat Donburi
  • Chickpea and Coconut Curry
  • Black Bean and “Cheeze” Bowl
  • Brussels Sprouts and Sesame Bowl
  • Cauliflower and Leek Stew

The table below shows the cost of a typical box, taking items from each meal category.

Plan sizePrice per servingWeekly cost, including shipping
small (9 items)$5.99–$9.79$91.10
medium (14 items)$5.99–$9.79$140.05
large (24 items)$5.99–$9.79$225.75

Discounts

Daily Harvest offers discounts on a person’s first box, tailored to the plan size they choose. A person’s first small box comes with $25 off, medium with $30 off, and large with $40 off. All first boxes come with free shipping.

Pros

  • All meals are dairy- and gluten-free.
  • All meals are suitable for vegans.
  • The brand offers a wide variety of food types.

Cons

  • Some menu options cost $11.99 each.
  • The brand does not provide clear information online about shipping costs or times.
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Best plant-based option: Mosaic

  • Price: from $6 per serving
  • Special diets: vegetarian and vegan
  • Delivery times: 1–2 days

Mosaic Foods provides plant-based, whole-food frozen meals. The company says it freezes its meals to:

  • reduce food waste
  • preserve nutrients
  • expand access

It claims that its meals contain 10–20 grams of protein and are ready in 5 minutes.

The brand sells meals a la carte and prices them individually. Some items cost around $11 each, which means not all dishes are suitable for people on smaller budgets.

Mosaic meals include:

  • Yellow Dal Curry
  • Jerk Lentil and Plantain Bowl
  • Mushroom Lover’s Pizza
  • Barbecue Seitan Pizza
  • Tomato, Rosemary, and White Bean Soup

Customers can choose 6, 12, or 18 items per box.

The table below breaks down the cost of the Mosaic service, including shipping costs. The estimated cost is based on boxes that include at least one item from each section of the menu.

Plan sizeEstimated cost per box, including shipping
6 items$80.39
12 items$140.80
18 items$201.20

Discounts

Customers can get $20 off their order. They can send a referral code to their friends, who may also save $20 on their first box.

Pros

  • The service offers exclusively plant-based meals.
  • Some meals are gluten-free.
  • The service also offers drinks.
  • Shipping times are fast.

Cons

  • Some items are expensive.
  • No information on shipping costs is available unless a person signs up.
  • Items have individual prices, which may make this service more expensive.
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Best for weight loss: Clean Eatz

  • Price: from $6.52 per meal
  • Special diets: states that it provides healthy meals
  • Delivery times: between Sunday and Tuesday

Clean Eatz sells weekly meals, grab-and-go meals, snacks, and smoothies. It also has a dine-in cafe, and the services are suitable for people who want to engage in a weight loss program.

People must order their food online Sunday through Tuesday and pick up their meals at a Clean Eatz location.

Meal options include:

  • Meatball Lasagna
  • BBQ Chicken Pasta
  • Skinny Burrito Bowl
  • Rosemary Fry Steakhouse Bowl
  • Taco Salad

The table below breaks down the weekly cost of each plan option.

Plan sizePrice per servingWeekly cost
up to 9 meals$8.20$8.20–$73.80
10–14 meals$7.30$73–$102.20
15–20 meals$7$105–$140
21 or more meals$6.52from $136.92

Pros

  • The price per serving decreases as a person orders more meals, with the lowest price for 21 or more meals.
  • The service offers ready-to-eat meals.
  • People can view the nutritional values on the website.

Cons

  • The dine-in cafe is not available in every state.
  • People must pick up their meals.
  • People may have to factor in travel costs to pick up their meals.
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Best for a WW plan: Blue Apron

  • Price: from $7.99 per serving
  • Special diets: low carb, low calorie, vegetarian, WW, diabetes-friendly
  • Delivery times: 7 days a week

People can choose from more than 60 dishes on Blue Apron’s weekly rotating menu.

This service offers menus and recipes that are not typically available from other companies, including diabetes-friendly recipes and a dedicated WW menu. This could be a good choice for people already following a WW diet.

However, Blue Apron does not offer gluten-free or vegan options.

In addition to meal delivery kits, Blue Apron offers wine and cooking tools through its online marketplace. The company claims that all its ingredients are free of genetically modified organisms and that its packaging is recyclable.

Blue Apron meals come with easy-to-follow instructions, resulting in minimal prep time for the consumer.

Meals include:

  • Oven-Baked Tomatillo Chorizo and Rice
  • Cheese Crisp Burgers
  • Chimichurri Shrimp
  • Roasted Paneer and Vegetables
  • Spicy Glazed Tofu Rice Bowls

The table below breaks down the cost of each plan, including the $10.99 shipping fee.

Plan sizePrice per servingWeekly cost, including shipping
2 meals per week with 2 servings$12.49$60.95
3 meals per week with 2 servings$10.99$76.93
4 meals per week with 2 servings$9.99$90.91
5 meals per week with 2 servings$9.49$105.89
2 meals per week with 4 servings$9.99$90.91
3 meals per week with 4 servings$9.49$124.87
4 meals per week with 4 servings$8.99$154.83
5 meals per week with 4 servings$7.99$170.79

Discounts

Blue Apron’s new customers can benefit from free shipping and discounted per-serving prices. They also get $110 off across 5 orders.

Pros

  • Unique menus are available for those on WW diets.
  • The company uses ingredients from sustainable sources.
  • The packaging is recyclable.

Cons

  • The service offers fewer menu items than other services.
  • There are no vegan or gluten-free options.
  • The food is not certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
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Best menus for common health conditions: Mom’s Meals

  • Price: from $7.99 per serving
  • Special diets: low sodium, heart-friendly, diabetes-friendly, gluten-free, renal-friendly, pureed, vegetarian, cancer support
  • Delivery times: company does not say

This service offers menus suitable for people with common health conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, and cancer. This is a unique feature that most services do not offer.

The cancer support menu offers meals high in protein and calories that may help people limit weight loss. The menu for people with kidney disease offers nutritional support, and the diabetes menu includes lower carb options.

Mom’s Meals offers meals under certain Medicaid and Older Americans Act programs, as well as some long-term service and support programs. A person should check their eligibility, as it can vary by state and program. A person’s case manager can help them with this process.

The company states that its food will keep for up to 14 days. Prices per serving can vary depending on the menu a person chooses.

Meals include:

  • Barbecue Chicken with a Potato Medley and Seasoned Green Beans
  • Beef Goulash Over Pasta and Seasoned Vegetables
  • Cheeseburger with Seasoned Vegetables
  • Buttermilk Pancakes
  • Curry Vegetables with Pineapple and Brown Rice

All Mom’s Meals plans offer servings at $7.99 each, although certain meals cost $1 extra. There is a $14.95 shipping fee. We break down the cost of each box below.

Plan sizePrice per servingCost per box, including shipping
10 meals$7.99$94.85
14 meals$7.99$126.81
21 meals$7.99$182.74

Discounts

Mom’s Meals offers a 10% discount for veterans and those who opt for automatic shipments.

Pros

  • The service offers menus suitable for a range of health conditions.
  • Medicaid may cover the cost of the service.
  • The service provides unique menus, such as pureed food.

Cons

  • Shipping is more expensive than for other brands.
  • Medicaid coverage will vary by state.
  • Specialized menus cost more.
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Best for unique spice blends: Marley Spoon

  • Price: from $8.69 per serving
  • Special diets: low calorie, vegetarian, vegan
  • Delivery times: morning or afternoon

Marley Spoon offers meal kits that include curated spice blends. A person can choose from more than 100 weekly recipes.

Some meals require a small amount of preparation, while others come ready to heat.

Meals include:

  • Garlic-Lime Marinated Sirloin Steak
  • Curry Spiced Cod
  • Chicken Fajita Casserole
  • Spinach and Cheese Ravioli Limone
  • Vegan Coconut Corn Chowder

Below is a breakdown of the cost of each plan, including the $11.99 shipping fee.

Plan sizePrice per servingWeekly cost, including shipping
2 meals for 2 people$12.99$63.95
3 meals for 2 people$10.99$77.93
4 meals for 2 people$10.49$95.91
5 meals for 2 people$9.99$111.89
6 meals for 2 people$9.49$125.87
2 meals for 4 people$10.49$95.91
3 meals for 4 people$9.49$125.87
4 meals for 4 people$8.99$155.83
5 meals for 4 people$8.99$191.79
6 meals for 4 people$8.69$220.55

Discounts

Marley Spoon’s new customers can benefit from a discount voucher offering 64% off their total price for the first 4 weeks and free shipping on their first box. They also get $20 off their other three boxes.

Pros

  • Meals include unique spice blends.
  • A professional chef designs the meals.
  • The price per serving is very affordable.
  • The company is involved in multiple environmental initiatives.

Cons

  • Customers mention quality control issues.
  • The service offers limited vegan meals.
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Best for those new to meal delivery: HelloFresh

  • Price: from $8.99 per serving
  • Special diets: vegetarian, pescatarian, low calorie
  • Delivery times: between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., or 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. for an additional charge
  • Subscription: 2–6 recipes per week for two or four people

HelloFresh is one of the most popular, longest-running meal delivery services in the United States. Every box includes a recipe card with detailed cooking instructions.

A person picks a plan and decides whether they want to receive food for two or four people. The service then delivers fresh ingredients to their door, with all meals portioned in exact amounts.

HelloFresh is a good option for people new to meal delivery, as it is widely known and customer reviews are easy to find. It may also help people who are not confident cooks learn new skills.

Meal options include:

  • Hoisin Beef Tacos
  • zucchini and sun-dried tomato risotto
  • Teriyaki Prawn Poke Bowl
  • Chicken Korma Curry
  • Middle Eastern-Style Lamb Stew

The table below shows the cost breakdown of each plan option.

Plan sizePrice per servingWeekly cost, including shipping
2 meals for 2 people$12.49$60.95
3 meals for 2 people$9.99$70.93
4 meals for 2 people$9.79$89.31
5 meals for 2 people$9.79$108.89
6 meals for 2 people$9.79$128.47
2 meals for 4 people$9.79$89.31
3 meals for 4 people$9.49$124.87
4 meals for 4 people$9.29$159.63
5 meals for 4 people$9.29$196.79
6 meals for 4 people$8.99$226.75

Discounts

HelloFresh meals start at $8.99 per serving, but the price can go up to $12.49. People can get a discounted price if they opt for more than 2 meals and 2 servings.

Students may also benefit from discounts through UNiDAYS. HelloFresh has a page where a person can check whether they are eligible for this.

Pros

  • The service is well known and popular.
  • It offers a variety of cuisines.
  • People can keep the recipe cards for later.

Cons

  • The company faces criticism over animal welfare.
  • The menu does not offer many vegan, keto, or paleo options.
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Best for meal-by-meal customization: Home Chef

  • Price: from $9.99 per serving
  • Special diets: calorie- and carb-conscious
  • Delivery times: vary by region

Home Chef offers meal kits and oven-ready meals with more customization options than other brands.

Home Chef uses a person’s taste profile to recommend meals from its weekly list of up to 30 options. Customers can edit or change meals before 12 p.m. Central Time on Fridays, including upgrading, swapping, or doubling up on certain ingredients.

However, changing the meal may increase its price.

The meal kits come with step-by-step recipe cards, and some of the ready-made meals are very quick to prepare.

The company does not offer many diet-specific boxes, such as allergen-friendly, vegan, or keto boxes.

Meals include:

  • Balsamic Spicy Onion Jam Burger
  • Crispy Garlic Sesame Glazed Chicken
  • Milanese-Style Pork Chop
  • Pork Meatloaf in Creamy Tomato Sauce
  • Lemon Pesto Shrimp Flatbreads

The table below breaks down the cost of a main menu plan. Home Chef writes that the weekly total is an estimation based on varying serving prices, but a person’s weekly total will change depending on the recipes they choose. There is also a $10.99 shipping fee.

Plan typePrice per servingEstimated weekly cost, including shipping
2 meals for 2 people$6.00$47.96
3 meals for 2 people$5.00$59.94
4 meals for 2 people$5.00$79.92
5 meals for 2 people$5.49$99.90
6 meals for 2 people$6.24$119.88
2 meals for 4 people$5.00$79.92
3 meals for 4 people$6.24$119.88
4 meals for 4 people$7.18$159.84
5 meals for 4 people$7.74$199.80
6 meals for 4 people$8.12$239.76
2 meals for 6 people$6.24$119.88
3 meals for 6 people$7.49$179.82
4 meals for 6 people$8.12$239.76
5 meals for 6 people$8.49$299.70
6 meals for 6 people$8.74$359.64

Discounts

The Home Chef website accepts voucher codes from time to time.

At the time of writing, the first four meal boxes are available half off.

Pros

  • Meal kits offer large portions.
  • People can swap and upgrade ingredients.
  • The service offers meal kits and quick-to-make or oven-ready meals.

Cons

  • The packaging is not environmentally friendly.
  • The service does not cater to gluten-free, keto, or vegan diets.
  • The service does not offer as many dishes as other brands.
  • There is a minimum weekly order value of $49.95.
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Comparison

The table below compares the meal delivery services in this article.

Special dietsDelivery timesPrice per servingEstimated weekly cost
Dinnerlylow calorie, keto, and low carbvary by location$4.99$44.15–$131.75
EveryPlatevegetarianbetween 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.from $4.99$44.94–$119.76
Daily Harvestdairy- and gluten-free dietsvary by locationfrom $5.99$91.10–$225.75
Mosaicvegetarian and vegan1–2 daysfrom $6$80.39–$201.20
Clean Eatzno information availableSunday through Tuesdayfrom $6.52$8.20–$136.92
Blue Apronlow carb, low calorie, vegetarian, WW, diabetes-friendly7 days a weekfrom $7.99$60.95–$170.79
Mom’s Mealslow sodium, heart-friendly, diabetes-friendly, gluten-free, renal-friendly, pureed, vegetarian, cancer supportno information availablefrom $7.99$94.85–$182.74
Marley Spoonlow calorie, vegetarian, veganmorning or afternoonfrom $8.69$63.95–$220.55
HelloFreshvegetarian, pescatarian, low caloriebetween 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.from $8.99$60.95–$226.75
Home Chefcalorie- and carb-consciousvary by regionfrom $9.99$47.96–$359.64

How we chose

In choosing brands to include in this article, Medical News Today assessed the following criteria:

Medical News Today’s methodology

  • Price: MNT compared the weekly cost for the same number of meals and servings, so people can decide what is most appropriate for their budget.
  • Nutritional value: These meal delivery services meet the average person’s nutritional needs and promote healthy eating habits.
  • Ingredient quality: Brands use fresh, high quality ingredients. Some also use organic produce or sustainably sourced ingredients.
  • Variety: Services feature a range of flavors and ingredients to suit different tastes and diets.
  • Availability: Services are available throughout most of the United States.
  • Sustainability: Brands reduce their environmental impact by using recyclable packaging, carbon-neutral shipping, local ingredients, and other sustainable practices.
  • Reputability: Services adhere to industry best practices, have passed our medical vetting process, and meet MNT’s business standards.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

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Who could benefit from affordable meal delivery?

Affordable meal delivery services can benefit various groups, such as disabled people, older people, and those with medical conditions that may limit their ability to shop for or cook meals.

People living in food deserts

Areas in which people do not have easy access to food due to financial or geographical reasons are called food deserts, although this term faces criticism from some.

USDA data from 2019 shows that 6% of the U.S. population lives in low income, low access (LILA) areas, meaning that money and access to supermarkets are barriers to getting nutritious food.

More specifically, “LILA” refers to areas where urban residents live more than 1 mile and rural residents more than 10 miles away from a supermarket. There are LILA areas in every U.S. state.

Meal delivery services may help people in LILA areas access balanced and nutritious meals, although they may still be too expensive for those on very tight budgets.

The hidden costs of meal delivery service

Meal delivery services will rarely be cheaper than grocery shopping in stores. People opting for a meal delivery service may wish to consider certain hidden costs that come with these services, including:

  • Shipping: Although most brands are clear about their shipping costs, it is an extra expense people need to budget for compared to grocery shopping in person. In some cases, shipping can add an extra $15 to a person’s order.
  • Covering other meals: Some brands offer only meals suitable for dinner. If using these services, people will still need to shop for food suitable for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.
  • Leftovers: Typically, meal delivery services do not offer portion sizes big enough to provide leftovers. This means people will not be able to spread a meal over several days, which is an effective way to save money on weekly grocery shopping.

Benefits of a meal delivery service

There are many potential advantages of using meal delivery services, such as:

  • allowing people to spend less time planning meals 
  • providing a helpful way to learn to cook
  • offering a new roster of recipes, often on reusable recipe cards 
  • increasing variety and access to ingredients that may be unavailable at the local grocery store 
  • introducing people to new ingredients 
  • making meals convenient
  • generating less waste 
  • providing many nutritious options 
  • helping people get started with a specific diet, such as the keto diet

Potential drawbacks

Possible drawbacks of using a meal delivery service include:

  • low quality protein and produce, depending on the standard of particular services
  • potential for delivery errors 
  • the possibility of unpalatable recipes 
  • potential that food may spoil before a person is ready to cook it
  • the possibility that a recipe may take more time if it requires new cooking techniques
  • high costs, which may particularly affect households that need large amounts of food

Alternatives to meal delivery services

A person can explore the following options to help make meal planning easier if they do not wish to use a meal delivery service.

Meal planning services

Services such as PlateJoy can help people plan meals. This platform provides the customer with a shopping list and recipes to try. This may be especially helpful for busy people, those new to cooking, or those who are getting used to a new diet.

PlateJoy is available for purchase online.

Meal preparation help

There are also many resources available for preparing meals in advance.

A person may wish to prepare several meals ahead of time so it is easier to provide individual meals throughout the week. However, preparing even a few meals or meal components for the week ahead may make a difference.

Buying precut vegetables

Many grocery stores now sell precut vegetables and other ingredients to help people reduce their meal preparation time. Using ingredients such as frozen vegetables, shredded cheese, and canned sauces may help save time and reduce stress for those who have less ability to cook or are building experience in the kitchen.

Community-supported agriculture (CSA) baskets or meat shares

This option may suit people who want to be creative in the kitchen.

CSA baskets and meat shares support local food producers and provide customers with quality, local ingredients. Delivery may be available, depending on the organization. Using these ingredients, people can follow whatever recipes they choose or create their own.

Learn more about preparing healthy meals on a budget.

Frequently asked questions about affordable meal delivery services

Below are some common questions about affordable meal delivery services.

What is the most inexpensive service for families?

Dinnerly and EveryPlate are two of the cheapest weekly meal delivery options that offer three recipes with two servings each.

For large families, people can select the Dinnerly family box, which costs $76.06 per week and features 3 recipes with 4 servings each. EveryPlate offers a family plan with child-friendly recipes starting at $59.88 weekly for 3 recipes with 4 servings each.

What is the cheapest meal delivery service for single people?

Dinnerly and EveryPlate may offer the cheapest meal delivery options for single people.

Do meal delivery services actually save you money?

It is unlikely that meal delivery services will save people money compared to grocery shopping in-store. This is because these services may not provide meals suitable for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and may not offer snacks or drinks. Additionally, it is unlikely that portion sizes will be big enough to provide leftovers.

People will also have to pay for shipping in most cases, which can add $10–15 to a person’s order.

How much is HelloFresh per week?

HelloFresh meals start at $8.99 per serving. People can choose 2–6 meals per week for 2–4 people. The weekly cost lands between $60.95 and $226.75.

Is HelloFresh expensive?

HelloFresh meals start at $8.99 per serving, which may be on the expensive side when compared to other companies. It also cannot easily compete with buying groceries in-store, which is typically cheaper overall. This is because people do not have to pay for shipping, and they can buy and cook ingredients in bulk, preparing leftovers to stretch across the week.

Summary

People may wish to consider signing up for a meal delivery service to save them time and build their cooking experience. However, these services may not always be cheaper than grocery shopping in stores.

The most affordable options offer meals at $4.99 per serving, and most companies offer discounts to new customers and certain groups, such as students or veterans.

Meal kit deliveries may help people learn to cook, discover new ingredients, and reduce food waste. Although there are various expensive, specialized meal kit options on the market, many affordable options are also available.