Meal kits are a fantastic way to save time with planning and meal prep. They also provide you with a variety of meals, ones that are healthy and packed full of veggies. Even so, meal kits can seem underwhelmingly simple because they tend to be so expensive. On the surface, even the cheapest meal kits are going to be quite a bit more expensive than a normal meal you’d cook for yourself at home.
Looking at price-per-meal alone, you’ll normally be paying way more for your meals than you would if you picked up the same ingredients locally.
Of course, that doesn’t factor in the cost of gas, time spent at the grocery store, unloading groceries, and food waste. Still, some meal kits cost as much as $30+ per “meal” (two servings), which is almost as much as you’d pay at a restaurant. That’s why I wanted to organize this list of the cheapest meal kits out there.
Most of them will still not compare with how cheap you can eat by sourcing local, in-season, or bulk ingredients from the store (especially if you focus on cheap recipes). Still, using an inexpensive meal kit a few times a week can help you save time, gas money, and personal energy.
Of the list below, my clear favorite is Blue Apron. However, it’s not the cheapest, and once you start adding on all the extras they offer, it probably shouldn’t belong on this list! (their wine club is amazing).
Make sure you keep an eye out for specials too. Many companies provide deep discounts for your first order, to try and entice you in. Those discounts are often recurring, with “We want you back” style promotions.
Those discounts can be a great way to try out different meal kit services and get a sense of which ones you enjoy the most. After all, everyone has their own flavor preferences and the ideal meal kit will vary based on the individual. My advice is to sign up for a bunch of them, even if they are expensive, then wait for those discount promotions to roll in.
Some companies offer between $20 and $80 off your order!
Cheapest Meal Kits
Home Chef is an especially good choice for anyone who loves variety. The company provides a weekly rotating menu that offers up to 30 different meals for you to choose from. There are also some interesting add-ons each week, like a smoothie and a fruit basket.
Most of the available meals are perfect for dinner. There are also some five minute lunches included for $7.99 a serving, which could be ideal for many situations. The range of meals alone makes Home Chef appealing. Most services have a very limited menu to choose from. That can make it difficult to find foods that you like.
The menu is also useful for people with allergies. Home Chef doesn’t specifically offer allergen-friendly meals. However, the company does use tags to show the allergens present in each meal. This makes it easy to only choose meals that you can eat. You’re also able to select your meals for up to five weeks at a time – making planning a breeze.
Then there’s the price. Most of the meals from Home Chef cost $9.99 per serving. This is much cheaper than many other services. It’s also a simple pricing structure. You don’t need to choose your meals carefully to make sure that they aren’t too expensive. Instead, your price will normally remain the same, regardless of the meals that you select. You can check out my experience with Home Chef to find out how the service stacks up.
HelloFresh is one of the most ambitious meal kit companies. They offer services in a number of different countries, providing high-quality and amazing food each time. Their approach to selling dinners involves a meal plan model.
There are now six different plans you can choose from: Meat & Veggies, Veggies, Family Friendly, Fit & Wholesome, Quick & Easy, and Pescatarian. However, these plans aren’t rigid. You can still change proteins and sides if the defaults don’t match your needs. You can also opt for a combination of the plans, like Veggie plus Family Friendly.
In every case, you can choose meals for two or four people, with anywhere from two to six meals per week. The price varies depending on the plan size. This breaks down to between $8.99 and $12.49 per serving. However, most plans are between $9.29 and $9.79 (plus $5.99 shipping). Even at $9.79, the meals are reasonably priced and better than many other services.
Allergen information is provided for each of the weekly dishes. You can click through to find full details, including the ingredients list, preparation time, nutritional information, and even the recipe. I’ve tried out the subscription myself. Take a look at my experiences to see what you can expect with the subscription.
Blue Apron isn’t the only meal kit service in the market anymore, but it was the first one. The service is clearly doing something right, as they’ve been able to retain a market share, despite all of the newcomers selling meal kits. I’ve used Blue Apron multiple times myself and haven’t been disappointed. It isn’t my favorite meal kit service, but I have re-subscribed multiple times, which says something about what they have to offer.
Don’t expect an extensive range of meals from Blue Apron or any allergen considerations. The company has started to develop some more interesting meals recently, but you’re typically just choosing between eight two-person recipes or five four-person recipes. That’s not a lot of variety.
The price depends on the plan and the number of servings, ranging between $7.99 and $11.99 per serving. You might need to pay for shipping too, like the $9.99 shipping fee for the two-person plan with two recipes per week. Still, many of the plans do have free shipping.
Martha & Marley Spoon
One of the nice things about Martha & Marley Spoon is the flexibility. You’re not forced to receive four meals per week if you don’t want to. You can choose anywhere from two to six meals per week, either for two people or for four people. The prices start at around $16 per serving, but that’s only for two people with two meals per week.
As long as you’re choosing more food than that, the price per serving is very reasonable. For example, the two-person plan with four meals per week costs around $12 per serving. On the four-person version, you’re paying around $12 per serving if you want two meals per week or around $9.70 per serving for four meals each week.
I’ve tried this company myself and I was generally pleased with the food and the pricing. It is a fantastic service for many situations, giving you the chance to try a variety of meals.
Still, it’s not all fantastic. The ordering process is a little frustrating. You don’t get to look at the meals before you order. The company chooses for you and then gives you the option to swap items out as you need to. The style does still give you plenty of control, but it isn’t the most appealing design. Some people (myself included) are likely to find it pretty frustrating.
Platejoy isn’t really a meal kit service at all, but it is an inexpensive service that is seriously worth considering. The difference is that Platejoy focuses on meal plans, rather than providing you all of the ingredients ready to go in a box.
There are 2 main advantages of this style. First, there is considerable flexibility. You get custom recipes that focus on your needs. You can even include your own personal recipes. Dietary preferences can be changed whenever you want to. There is even syncing to Fitbit and nutritional details for each recipe.
The other advantage is the price. The planning service costs $69 for 6 months or $99 for 12 months, which averages to around $8.25 or $11.50 per month. That’s a low price to receive customized meal plans. You can also sign up for Instacart for $9.99 per month or $99 per year, which is a way to get your groceries delivered to you. You can also just shop for the ingredients yourself. Platejoy will give you a list of everything you need.
Regardless of your approach, you will still need to pay for the ingredients. The price per meal will vary depending on the recipes in question. Still, the style is a viable way to get many of the benefits of a meal kit, without paying too much.
Dinnerly was specifically developed as a cheap meal kit service. Their site boasts a price of $4.99 per person. That claim is slightly misleading, as there is an $8.99 shipping fee per order. Even then, you’re still paying less for Dinnerly than any other service (except for discounts and sales).
There are limitations, of course. The meals from Dinnerly just use six ingredients and there are no options for people on specific diets or those with ingredients that they need to avoid. The meals are also pretty simple. You’re looking at options like Shephard’s Pie, Broccoli Cheddar Soup or Mediterranean Chicken Penne. You could find similar recipes in most cookbooks.
Simple or not, the meals do taste good. You’re not getting cheap and nasty meals. The service provides you with delicious and simple meals, for a much lower price than other companies.
The other aspect to mention is the plans. You can choose between a two-person and a four-person subscription. The two-person version starts at $44.15 for two meals per week and goes to $86.87 for six meals each week. The four-person version starts at $69.11 for two meals per week and goes up to $141.75 for six meals.
You can also choose between a regular subscription and a vegetarian one. The prices are the same either way.
EveryPlate is a newcomer to the list of cheap meal kits – I just saw them on Instagram. Actually, despite being the second cheapest on this list, they are one of the better ones.
I’m eating a couple of weeks’ worth of food from EveryPlate as I type this (not in the same day, obviously LOL).
The meals are interesting enough to not fall into the “boring” category most of the time. I did have some boring stuff like chicken and mashed potatoes, but I also got some super interesting food like chili-cherry pork chops and roasted veggies, or steak with chimichurri sauce (my favorite!).
The best part is that the simple meals are easy to cook, so I can glance at the card once or twice and basically understand what the recipe calls for.
Ways To Keep Your Costs Low
Many meal kit services on this list offer a deep discount for your first order. This could be as much as $80 off the first box or even a larger amount spread across multiple boxes. If money is tight, you could even simply take advantage of the early discounts for each service, then cancel as soon as you are able.
There are sometimes other promos too, such as seasonal coupons, refer-a-friend credits, and discounts for certain groups, like college students. These can all decrease the amount you pay for your subscription.
Regardless of the company you choose, pay close attention to each step of the ordering process. Some companies charge more for particular types of proteins, like shrimp or grass fed beef, or for changes like increasing the amount of protein.
Other times, meals may vary in price by a few dollars or even more. Surcharges and more expensive meals can quickly increase the price of your box.
Remember to factor shipping in as well. This is often free if you’re ordering three or more meals per week, but not always.
Tempting as it may be, choosing the least expensive companies and meals isn’t always the best approach. Sometimes doing so will give you meals that are too small or simply not filling.
Instead, it’s important to pay attention to the size and the macros of the meals. Look for ones with enough protein and calories to satisfy you – even if you need to pay a little more for such meals.
No company is perfect. Even the best meal kit service runs into issues from time to time. This might mean that some of your food is expired, something is missing from the box, or there’s a billing error.
If run into an issue, be sure to talk to the company about it. You might get a refund, a credit, or some other type of compensation. Every little bit helps, right?
Some grocery chains and local stores have started to sell meal kits of their own. While these normally aren’t a subscription service, they are a useful alternative to the companies on this list.
Such meal kits will often be cheaper too, as the company doesn’t need to worry about shipping and can keep packaging to a minimum.
There are also some spice-focused meal kits, like Wanderlust. These typically provide recipe cards and spice mixes – leaving you to source the ingredients for yourself.
This style makes the kits much cheaper than normal. They also mean that you can buy some of the ingredients on sale, which might drop the price down further.
Unless you get an exceptional discount, a meal kit will normally be more expensive than buying the ingredients individually. However, the right kit at the right time might still save you money indirectly.
For one thing, these kits give you the ingredients you need and nothing more. That’s better than buying more food than you need (like a whole head of cabbage or pumpkin for a recipe that requires a small amount).
Meal kits also save you time and decrease stress. This can easily translate into financial savings (who doesn’t spend more when they’re stressed and tired?). Besides, having a meal kit at home might be enough to stop you from grabbing fast food at the end of an intense day. Using a meal kit instead is much better for your finances and your health.