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Subscription box services deliver meals and ingredients for people to prepare or heat up at home. Many companies offer flexible meal plans that aim to suit a range of dietary and lifestyle requirements.

This article explores several factors for people to be mindful of when choosing a subscription box service, some brands to consider, and the potential health effects of opting for one of these services.

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A food subscription box is a regular home delivery service containing premade meals or ingredients. Many subscription services are available that suit various lifestyle and dietary requirements.

Some companies deliver chef-prepared meals for people to heat in the oven or microwave, or on the stovetop. Other brands provide portioned ingredients and recipe cards to help people prepare home-cooked meals quickly.

A customer usually signs up for a certain number of meals per week and selects the foods they want online. The companies ship their products in a way that preserves freshness, and a person stores the meals or perishable ingredients in the fridge or freezer before use.

Some food subscription box services aim to suit people with a typical range of dietary requirements, while others cater to those with very specific needs. For instance, some brands offer meals or ingredients that tailor to:

  • vegan diets
  • gluten-free diets
  • older adults or children
  • athletes or other very active people
  • people wanting to lose weight

Anyone looking at different meal subscription box services should take into account:

  • whether each service delivers to their zip code
  • if they would like to reheat meals or receive portioned ingredients
  • how many people will be using the service
  • the number of meals per day they need
  • whether children or older adults are in the household
  • if anyone needs gluten-free or plant-based options
  • whether the service accommodates people with allergies
  • if the options will provide enough variety
  • the nutritional and caloric contents of the meals
  • the cost, including delivery charges

There is a wide variety of food subscription services on the market, which cater to various lifestyle and dietary requirements. Below, we explore the ranges and services of 10 brands.

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.

Home Chef

For low calorie meals

Home Chef is a popular food subscription service that aims to suit people looking for low-calorie or carb-conscious meals, as well as people with other needs.

However, plant-based options are limited, and some meals are higher in sugar and fat than those of other services. Home Chef does give a person the option of adding extra protein to their meals.

The company sells meal kits and full meals prepared by chefs.

Prices start at $8.99 per serving.

Daily Harvest

For plant-based meals

Daily Harvest delivers kits for plant-based meals, including smoothies, harvest bowls, and snack bites. People can also add extras such as flatbreads and lattes.

Daily Harvest freezes its ingredients, stating that frozen foods retain more nutrients than fresh foods.

This brand may be a suitable option for people who are vegan or gluten-free, and those looking to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables.

Prices vary depending on the product type.

Blue Apron

For diabetes-friendly recipes

Blue Apron is a meal kit delivery service with vegetarian, carb-conscious, and diabetes-friendly recipes.

It does not accommodate people who follow a gluten-free or vegan diet. The company’s meal plans suit households of two to four people.

Prices start at $8.99 per serving.

Purple Carrot

For vegans

Purple Carrot delivers meal kits for vegan diets.

People can choose from breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes. Quick and easy, gluten-free, and high protein meals are also available.

The brand provides nutritional information for every meal and says most of its packaging is recyclable.

Prices start at $11.99 per serving.

HelloFresh

For recyclable packaging

HelloFresh delivers meal kits for recipes that are vegetarian or contain meat or fish.

It also provides nutritional information for each meal, and all its packaging is recyclable.

Customers can opt for two to six meals per week for two or four people.

The price depends on the meal plan and chosen frequency.

Factor

For meals cooked by chefs

Factor delivers meals designed by dietitians and cooked by chefs. Each meal contains around 600 calories, and the company caters to a wide range of diets, including ketogenic, paleo, and plant-based diets.

People can enter the names of these meals into several nutrition apps, such as MyFitnessPal and Carb Manager, to track their nutrient intake. The company also offers each customer a 20-minute nutrition consultation by phone.

Prices start from $11 per serving.

BistroMD

For weight loss meals

BistroMD offers prepared meals designed by a doctor to help a person lose weight healthily.

There are several programs to choose from:

  • healthy heart
  • gluten free
  • menopause
  • diabetic friendly

This company also has programs specifically designed for men’s and women’s weight loss.

Prices start from $139.95 for five lunches and five dinners.

Cerebelly

For children

Cerebelly provides puree pouches for young children from 5 months to 25+ months old.

The company claims there are no allergens or gluten in these products.

Cerebelly has a Clean Label Project Purity Award, and all its products are certified organic.

The pouches contain 16 brain-supporting nutrients and no-added sugar.

Prices start from $2.46 per meal.

Sunbasket

For certified organic products

Sunbasket provides ready meals and meal kits. It caters to various diets including paleo, vegetarian, gluten free, carb conscious, diabetes friendly, and pescatarian.

A person can add breakfast, lunch, proteins, and snacks to their subscription.

The produce in both the ready meals and meal kits is certified organic.

People can also cancel or pause their subscription at any time.

Prices start from $9.99 per serving.

Porter Road

For meat products

Porter Road delivers meat boxes across the contiguous United States. The company claims that its meat is pasture-raised and does not contain hormones or antibiotics.

A person can build their own box and choose from various add-ons. They can then decide how frequently they would like to receive this box.

Meat products include beef, pork, lamb, and chicken. A person can also purchase these products individually.

Prices vary depending on the product type.

The potential health benefits of a subscription box depend on what it contains, and different brands offer meals and ingredients of varying nutritional quality.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has a free bodyweight planner that allows people to calculate how many calories and nutrients they should consume each day. This planner may help a person identify which food subscription service provides meals with the ideal number of calories for them.

Opting for plant-based meals from a service could have specific health benefits. For example, according to a 2019 review, plant-based diets may reduce inflammation, prevent diabetes and obesity, and improve the diversity of gut bacteria. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans notes that increasing the intake of plant-based foods also benefits the environment.

Food subscription services may also be helpful for people working to reach or maintain a moderate weight. A 2021 study found that combining meal kits with a personalized meal planning service helped 39% of participants with obesity lose at least 5% of their starting weight.

A large, population-based study from 2017 compared body mass index (BMI) in people who ate home-cooked meals at least five times a week to those who ate them fewer than three times a week. The participants who ate more home-cooked meals were 28% less likely to have BMIs in the overweight range and 24% less likely to have excess body fat.

Food subscription services may represent a convenient way to eat healthy meals. Opting for meal kits rather than premade dishes can encourage a person to improve their cooking skills.

When choosing a service, it is important for people to consider cost, dietary requirements, and family size. Depending on a person’s needs, they may prefer plant-based, low-calorie, or carb-conscious options.