The best prepared meal delivery services in 2020: Freshly, Daily Harvest and more

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Let us guess — you’re stuck home during the coronavirus pandemic and struggling to balance your workload with daily necessities like cooking and cleaning. And that’s not to mention maintaining proper social distancing and spending as little time as possible outside the house. One good way to help lighten the burden is to sign up for a prepared meal delivery or oven-ready meal kit service. I’d been developing a list of the best meal delivery and oven-ready meal kit services even before COVID-19 hit and so I’m glad to bring it to you now in hopes that it may provide some relief. It’s certainly made a difference for me.

How are these set apart from our favorite meal kits? While the meal kit revolution was all about providing you with the basic ingredients and instructions on how to pull it all together into delicious home-cooked meals, we’re betting you no longer have time or patience to do that. Pandemics are exhausting, and truth be told, cooking and setting up a meal plan are really only fun when you’ve got the time to develop your recipes, go to the grocery store and otherwise flex your chef muscles. Harried cooking when you only have a few cans of non-perishables in your freezer just sounds stressful. That’s why these oven-ready meal kits and prepared meal delivery services have emerged as a turnkey solution when you need quick and easy lunches and dinners on the menu, but your takeout budget is running thin. Newer meal delivery services such as Veestro and Freshly have taken note of modern healthful eating habits and there are prepared menus tailored for every type of eater, including carnivores, vegetarians, vegans, and others on a plant-based diet, as well as those keeping to a ketopaleo, low-sugar or low-calorie diet.

While most of the meal delivery services we sorted are prepared, precooked and ready to pop into the oven or a hot skillet to be heated, services such as Home Chef and Gobble are not yet cooked. These “oven-ready” options, which fall somewhere between a classic meal kit and meal delivery, are uncooked but pre-assembled to be thrown together and baked, broiled or stir-fried with no major prep required. In short: Please don’t eat any raw chicken. You don’t need food poisoning on top of everything else that’s going on!

Most of these meal delivery companies ship their precooked meals frozen or partially frozen. Since they arrive in shipments of four or more, most meals are designed to be popped into the freezer so you can defrost and eat them over the course of the week or longer. Even if you don’t plan to eat them every day — or even every week — having a few stashed away in the freezer for emergencies can be helpful when you need them, or when you just don’t have it in you to even boil water for pasta.

While I wasn’t able to try every meal from every meal kit or delivery service listed, I did get a chance to try a sampling from each of them. As you’ll read, some of these meal delivery services and meal kits are centered around a particular concept. Home Chef, for instance, has simple meal kits down to a science with fresh ingredients and recipes that are already prepped and can be finished in as little as 15 or 20 minutes. Others, such as Veestro, specialize in premade or prepared vegetarian and vegan meals for those going meatless in 2020 but still looking for an alternative to cooking. 

There’s still nothing quite like a home-cooked meal, but one of these simple and affordable meal delivery services just might be the thing to lighten your load during the challenging times we’re currently living through. 

Read more: Wine, beer, alcohol delivery: How to get alcoholic beverages delivered to your door    

Note that Freshly is currently at capacity and not taking new orders so I’ve moved them to the bottom of the list. I’ll work to keep this list up-to-date but please check each service to ensure they are operating normally and with reasonable delivery times before placing an order. I’d also like to continue to encourage you to support your local restaurants, many of which are struggling mightily, by ordering takeout when you can.  

Here are the best prepared meal delivery services and oven-ready meal kits in 2020.

  • Best meal delivery that you still have to cook (a little): Home Chef
  • Best meal delivery for quick lunches and dinners: Daily Harvest
  • Best meal delivery for vegetarians and vegans: Veestro
  • Best meal delivery for calorie counting and dieting: Freshology
  • Best for gourmet meal delivery: Home Bistro 
  • Honorable mention best meal delivery you still have to cook: Gobble
  • Best meal delivery for comfort food with a healthy edge (not currently taking new orders): Freshly

Home Chef

Home Chef is a popular meal kit company and recently launched a line of oven-ready meals like cajun chicken with rice and beans, meant to take nearly all the work out of dinner but still delivering home-cooked food, technically speaking. 

If it’s oven-ready you’re after you’ll want to choose Home Chef’s Fresh & Easy meals which are focused on no-fuss easy oven-ready options. Plus there are grill-ready meals for summer and 15-minute entree salads for those craving lighter fare or slow cooker meals that likewise require very minimal preparation and cleanup. This new category from Home Chef is designed to be low technical skill and is a good option if you’re wanting home-cooked but not interested in enlisting at a culinary institute to make it happen. 

Pricing: No matter how you slice it, Home Chef breaks down to just under $10 per serving. Most people choose six to eight meals a week, so the average cost is about $70. But you can choose as few as six servings and as many as 12 and will save slightly more with a larger order. 

Daily Harvest

Daily Harvest launched in 2015 with an army of frozen and ready-to-blend smoothies, premade soups and hearty grain bowls to keep stocked in the freezer. Some of the bowls and soups could pass as dinner but I like these best for a no-fuss lunch or breakfast. Depending on the specific offering, you either drop it into a saucepan or skillet to heat and eat. Or add nut milk and blend it up, as with the protein-packed smoothies, oat bowls or lattes.

This is a great meal delivery service if you want to simplify your week and keep to a healthy eating plan. Daily Harvest uses lots of ancient grains, oats and superfoods in their recipes, which are all mostly satisfying and well balanced in terms of flavor.

Pricing: With so many different offerings and options you can really choose whatever you want but soups, smoothies and chia bowls can be had for as low as $5.99 per serving, if you order a subscription and in bulk. 

Veestro

Veestro offers a wide-ranging menu of 100% prepared plant-based meals for those keeping to a vegan or vegetarian diet. Offerings from Veestro include dishes like tofu with red curry sauce, carrot osso buco and country-fried chick’n. Veestro uses more meat alternatives than say a Purple Carrot, so if you like seitan, tempeh and other faux meats this is a good meal delivery service to check out.

The carnivore in me must admit that may of the plant-based meals I tried from Veestro were as satisfying as the food I’m used to. I would suggest this for anyone trying to cut back on meat but not going full-fledged vegetarian as much of the food is designed to replicate a carnivores diet and makes for a soft landing.

Pricing: Veestro breaks down to roughly $11.70 per meal for ten meals, although it’s more expensive for a one-time order. It gets less expensive, however, if you choose a 20-meal plan ($10.80 per meal).

Freshology

You might have guessed by the name but this healthy meal delivery service doesn’t specialize in creamy mashed potatoes or mac and cheese. Depending on your nutrition goals, you can focus on specific menus like vegetarian, low-carb or keto meals or to help manage diabetes. All the nutrition and calorie information is provided to help you meet those diet goals. Freshology powered by Diet-to-Go is intent on helping customers stay on track all day, too, with a full slate of breakfast, lunch and dinner options. 

There is less of an emphasis on delivering haute cuisine but rather hearty meals with good protein and you’ll find lots of lean meats, whole grains and green veggies without a ton of pomp and circumstance. 

Pricing: Customizable meal plans start at $9.99 per meal. You can have as many as three meals per day delivered if you really just don’t want to cook. Ever. 

Home Bistro

Home Bistro is definitely the priciest meal delivery service on the list but that’s because the meals are of a higher caliber to be sure. You’ll find a bit less grilled chicken breast or simple pasta dishes but rather more complicated proteins like Chianti-braised short ribs, Peri-Peri pork tenderloins and chargrilled pomegranate salmon with Home Bistro. 

Though it is more expensive — comparable to takeout — if you eat a lot of meat but don’t have tons of great prepared food or delivery options in your area, this is a good meal delivery service to try. And since you can order these prepared meals a la carte, you can always save it for special occasions. 

Pricing: Individual meals are between $19 and $27. You can order Home Bistro meals a la carte or packages of 7, 10 or 20 meals to be delivered weekly or bi-weekly.

Gobble

Gobble is also not technically prepared meals but with many of the dinners taking as little as 15 minutes to cook, it might as well be. The team at Gobble does all the prep work — chopping, dicing, measuring — so you can breeze right into a cacio e pepe with shrimp and asparagus or sirloin steak with mashed potatoes. Gobble is another great option for meal delivery if your goal is freshly prepared food with very little effort.

Pricing: Gobble meal kits start at $11.99 per serving but you can try your first six meals for just $36 as a one-time offer.

Freshly

Note: As of late March 2020, Freshly is not taking on new customers. 

Freshly delivers precooked meals (fresh, not frozen) to your door. While they have healthy options a-plenty, Freshly is one of the better options if you want the occasional cheat meal or comfort food delivered to your door (yes, please!). Penne bolognese, peppercorn steak with mashed potatoes and chicken casserole are just some of the heartier choices you can have at the ready. But there are also healthier, low-cal options to keep yourself honest. 

Pardon the word-play but Freshly did have some of the freshest tasting meals, likely because they didn’t arrive pre-frozen. Not everything felt restaurant quality but overall this company delivers a lot of crowd-pleasers including chicken tikka masala and chili-topped macaroni and cheese.

Pricing: The more you order the more you save with Freshly and the difference is significant. Four meals per week breaks down to $11.50 per meal but up that to 12 and the price per meal drops to $7.99.

Read more: 

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.

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