You can’t escape them. They’re everywhere. You’ve probably seen them in your Facebook feed. Now you’ve decided to take the plunge but you can’t decide which one to choose.
I’m talking, of course, about meal kit subscription-based services. They deliver pre-measured ingredients and detailed recipes to your doorstep so you can create a home-cooked meal.
Forget the agony of figuring out a new way to prepare chicken breasts. Save yourself the inconvenience of a supermarket trip and spend that extra time catching up on your favorite show instead of chopping, slicing and dicing.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that there’s a ton of companies that already deliver meals to your door. The difference between those companies (meal delivery services) and the current batch (meal kit services) is that traditional services deliver meals already cooked. The new services provide and prepare the ingredients while leaving the final stage, the cooking, up to you.
Meal kits are the next big thing, reaching sales over $2 billion last year, and predicted to grow by 25 – 30% annually for the next five years.
While there are over a dozen popular subscription services currently offering to take care of dinner, there are two that truly dominate the market.
Since these are the two largest and most established brands, and I’ve tried them myself, here are my thoughts on Blue Apron VS Hello Fresh. Hopefully the comparison will help you figure out which one is best for your needs.
Types of Meals Offered
Hello Fresh ,meals won’t make you the envy of your foodie friends anytime soon. They stick pretty close to the ordinary, offering regular and dependable combos like fish and asparagus or pork and couscous. They actually state it on their website, “Quicker meals less prep work.”
Although they provide eight weekly meals to choose from, they offer three separate vegetarian options. The difference between the two companies is that while both services offer accessible meals, these tend to be predictable and bland.
Both offerings seem focused on remaining as generic as possible, probably to appeal to the widest possible market. Not a bad thing if you’re a creature of habit and your main goal is convenience.
Blue Apron does a little better, although they don't venture out too far like Plated does. Meals are tasty, and there's a wide variety of flavors. Sometimes you'll make something not too different from what you’d normally think up by yourself, but other times there's some weird Arabian spices that you'd have to do some serious culinary research to find out about. Most meals focus on variations of beef, chicken or fish accompanied by pasta, filling sides (like potatoes), and some green veggies.
There's not a great deal of variety compared to other services which offer, but they do have a couple options (eight) weekly. The preparation instructions are very clear and easy to follow, but will take longer than Hello Fresh.
Signing Up & Canceling
Both services make it really easy to sign up.Blue requires your email, choosing your meals for the week, entering credit card information and you’re finished. Canceling can be done through the online portal, and is pretty simple.
With Hello Fresh, there are a few more options for meals and shipping. If you suffer from allergies, they do inform you which meals contain potential allergens but you still need to go through each meal individually to make sure the ingredients meet your requirements.
When it comes to canceling the service, I did cancel and the process was pretty straightforward. There was a processing error regarding my account and I did end up being put on hold for 45 minutes but my experience may have been an outlier.
Packaging & Delivery
Blue Apron delivers its weekly meals in recyclable packaging but all the ingredients are individually wrapped and placed in the box together. I needed to spend time sorting everything after I receive my package. This is something I’d rather not have to do. Other reviewers have also mentioned problems with missing and spilled ingredients. This happens from time to time, so I wouldn't focus too much on this aspect, but it is annoying when it happens.
Here Hello Fresh wins hands down. They separate the ingredients for each meal into individual bags so it’s easy to access everything you need. Just grab a bag and start cooking.
Blue Apron offers a Two-Person Plan at $10.99 per serving with a choice of two or three recipes weekly. They also offer a Family Plan for $9.99 per serving with two to four recipes weekly. Add in great incentives for first timers like $30 off and the cost is no longer a reason to hesitate.
Hello Fresh is currently offering 50% off the first week’s order and free shipping. There are three different plans—Classic, Vegetarian and Family, and after crunching the numbers, it’s hard to come up with reasons not to give it a try.
The Classic Plan serves two to four people and you can choose to receive two to four recipes per week. Total costs for a one-week trial with free shipping range from $2.49 – $7.49 per serving.
The Vegetarian Plan serves two to four people with three recipes weekly. Price per serving ranges from $4.49 – $7.49.
The Family Plan serves four with a choice of two or three recipes per week and a price range of $4.49 – $6.24 per serving.
Even if you’ve ordered before and cancelled, they usually provide a generous incentive to give them another try. I received an offer for renewal with a $30 discount. With shipping free over $50, it cost me $29.94 for a 3-meal box or $5 per serving.
As I mentioned before, although Blue Apron is the largest meal kit subscription service in the market, it is also one of the more limited in terms of meal variety. Many of the smaller services provide a wider array of food choices that directly address the customer’s dietary needs. I guess appealing to “most” people means that they won't carry specialty dietary needs or venture out too far into meal experimentation.
Still, you can find vegetarian options in the Two-Person Plan although not in the Family Plan and allergen free meals are available but this is more by chance than design. You may not find enough of them to fill your weekly quota of recipes depending on your needs.
You can, however, easily pause your weekly deliveries for up to six weeks, and there are no contracts so you cancel anytime. They also have the option to include wine with the meal.
With Hello Fresh, there is a little more flexibility. You can choose among more combinations of people and recipes, and there is a vegetarian option as well. Another new feature is the “premium options” offer. You can now order premium ingredients, like scallops and extra portions.
Both services allow you to choose specific meals from their weekly selection or you can just have them selected for you randomly.
What Makes Each Meal Kit Unique?
Something that makes Blue Apron unique among meal its is that it has a wine option. There's only two meal kit subscription companies that currently offer this type of service, so although Blue Apron isn't the only one that does this, it does make it stand out as a choice for wine lovers. Coincidentally, Hello Fresh is the other service that offers a wine club option. However, the Blue Apron wine experience blows Hello Fresh out of the water, so if you're a wine lover and interested in this aspect, Blue Apron is the way to go.
What makes Hello Fresh unique is the pure simplicity of the meals. While I found this to be a downside to the service, my girlfriend's brother thinks this is the main reason to stay a member long term. They have also tried both services, and voted Hello Fresh as their choice! They love being able to whip up a simple meal in 15-20 minutes and not worry about creating some crazy coconut curry sauce as part of the preparation. Hello Fresh is fast, easy, tasty, and practical.
Go to my full Blue Apron review.
- Tasty food with broad appeal
- Focus on sustainability
- Great wine club
- Consistently tasty meals
- Limited options can get boring (they are improving this)
- No meal customization options like Sun Basket
- Fewer allergen options than Green Chef
Go to my full Hello Fresh review.
- Free shipping always
- Convenient meal packaging
- Premium options
- Extra Portions
- Simple meals (might be a pro for some people)
- Fewer allergen options
- Wine club could be improved (it's still pretty good)
So, when comparing Blue Apron VS Hello Fresh, which one wins? The answer really depends on what you’re looking for. Both are quite similar in many respects. When it comes to taste though, that depends entirely on you.
For me, I would go with Blue Apron, hands down. I join meal kits clubs not out of convenience, but out of interest. I like getting new spices, making sauces, and spending time cooking my meals. Enhancing my nightly cooking is a pleasure.
However, for folks that want to join a meal kit to make their life simpler, and to free up more time from cooking and shopping (without eating out expensive food that's unhealthy), Hello Fresh is a great option!
Have you tried either of these meal kits? Which one did you prefer? Do you prefer a different service?