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If you’ve opened the refrigerator and sighed out of despair at trying to dream up one more nutritious yet satisfying meal, then you’re not alone.
There are a ton of options for dinner shortcuts available on the market far beyond the usual takeout. Meal kits make it easy but still require you to cook. So when you just can’t anymore, prepared meal delivery services can be a lifesaver.
To combat the dinner boredom and ennui, we’ve rounded up the best prepared meal delivery services to make your life easy and your meals flavorful.
Best Prepared Meal Delivery Services of 2021
Best Overall: Home Bistro
Why We Chose It
In a sea of slightly elevated TV dinners, Home Bistro is the shining example that great food can be easy and quick. These chef-designed meals are delicious and hearty, and there is something for everyone, from vegetarians to bodybuilders.
Pros and Cons
- Large portion sizes
- Restaurant-quality food
- Wide variety of diets supported
- Also includes lunch options
- Significantly more expensive than other services
- Recommended reheating method can be confusing
Even if you don’t want to cook, you want meals that are fresh, satisfying, and whatever you consider healthy. Home Bistro takes those basic requirements and exceeds them in every way. The service is repped by none other than Iron Chef’s Cat Cora and that’s the level of quality that shines in every meal.
Home Bistro doesn’t claim to be a diet program, but it does offer meals that will fit into a number of different dietary restrictions. You can order a single meal from Home Bistro, or you can order a pre-chosen 10-pack that’s focused on one dietary goal, whether it’s the heart-healthy bundle, paleo pack, or a Mediterranean pack, among others.
Meals are delivered frozen and come with two sets of instructions—one for microwaving and one for heating on the stovetop using boiling water. Since the meals are all vacuum-packed in plastic pouches, the latter is the preferred method, basically doing a sous vide-style warm-up.
The drawbacks are few but they are important. Home Bistro tastes like restaurant-quality food and it costs about the same. While many services offer meals in the sub-$10 range through bulk ordering or promotions, Home Bistro starts at about $14 per meal and goes up from there. But when you’re noshing on harissa roasted lamb, asiago orzo, sauteed spinach, and braised maitake mushrooms, you may not mind so much. Shipping is free, which is almost like dessert.
Best for Keto: Factor
Save $90 off your first three weeks of FACTOR with code BYRDIE90OFF
Why We Chose It
Nobody should be resigned to grilled chicken and bacon on the Keto diet. Factor offers a variety of dietician and chef-created meals to keep you happy and in ketosis.
Pros and Cons
- Many options, and not just dinner meals
- Opportunity to change menus each week
- Plant-based keto options available
- Significant plastic waste
- May be difficult to cancel subscriptions
- Deliveries can be unpredictable
Factor solves the problem of boredom that often comes with the Keto diet after a few months: How do you make protein interesting long term? Letting the dieticians and chefs from Factor dream up healthy and tasty Keto-friendly meals certainly helps.
One of the things that sets Factor apart from many other Keto prepared meal delivery services is its abundance of options. Not only do you get more than 20 choices that change weekly, but you can also add on snacks, breakfast dishes, and even keto-friendly desserts.
Factor is a subscription service so you’ll have to pick meals on an ongoing weekly basis. If you want to really set the autopilot, you can let the Factor staff pick your meals based on your ratings of prior orders. It really doesn’t get more simple than this.
Best for Plant-Based Diets: Veestro
Why We Chose It
It can be tough out there for a vegan who wants convenience. Many prepared meal delivery services include vegetarian options but Veestro’s options are all vegan. There’s a huge variety of options and they even offer a breakfast section.
Pros and Cons
- All organic and non-GMO ingredients
- All dishes are vegan
- Can search by dietary preference
- Free shipping with auto-deliveries
- Some dishes are marked gluten-free but not prepared in a gluten-free environment
- Heavy reliance on soy protein
- Must sign up for a minimum of 10 meals
Veestro has a lot going for it—especially if you’re vegan. While vegetarians can often find options on more generalist meal delivery services, vegans are hard-pressed to find much. Veestro offers a good mix of cuisines from Indian dishes that are naturally vegan to home cooking makeovers like the country fried chick’n.
Veestro offers two options: a la carte, where diners can pick their entrees in increments of 10, 20, or 30, or the weight loss option, where diners pick five or seven days worth of meals, with each hitting the 1,200-calorie goal. One hidden benefit of the weight loss plan: All weight loss plans ship for free.
Overall, the dishes sound appealing to vegans, vegetarians, and even just the veggie-curious. By using the a la carte plan, clients can stock some vegan meals to intersperse with their regular cooking to break things up. Meatless Mondays anyone? And at about $12 for the smallest plan, the food is reasonably priced.
Best for Paleo: Pete’s Paleo
Why We Chose It
Pete’s Paleo offers new, seasonal meals every week with 5 ounces of protein and 7 ounces of veggies. Unlike many prepared meal delivery services, Pete’s Paleo offers family-sized portions as well as single-serving meals, making it easy for families, as well.
Pros and Cons
- Diverse, chef-driven meals in hearty sizes
- Recyclable packaging
- Local and sustainably sourced ingredients
- 100% allergen-free
- Meals can have a relatively high amount of sodium
- Fairly expensive
- Meal options each week are limited
When it comes to simplicity, the paleo diet seems like it would be an easy one to follow—until you realize there are added sugars in nearly everything. Enter Pete’s Paleo. The prepared meal delivery services leverage founder Pete Selvold’s experience as a Le Cordon Bleu chef and Crossfit aficionado. The result? Super seasonal, locally sourced meals.
One of the things that makes Pete’s stand out is the option to order family-sized meals. Even if you live alone, sometimes leftovers would be nice and larger portions allow for lunch the next day. Pete’s Paleo is also sensitive to allergies and protein choices. If you abstain from pork, the service gives you the option to have pork-free meals. They also offer Autoimmune protocol (AIP) and low fermentable oligo di-monosaccharides and polypols (FODMAP) options.
Then there’s the menu itself. The love of food is obvious in dishes like pulled jerk pork cheeks with Callaloo greens and sweet plantains or smoked confit pork with mushrooms, carrots, and chicharrones.
Pete’s Paleo offers three meal plan options—five (about $89 per week), 10 (around $174 per week), or (roughly $229 per week) 14 meals, but it only offers 10 unique recipes per week. For larger meal plans, you’ll have all the recipe options with your choice for the extra four meals, so there is a bit of a limited variety if you’re relying on Pete’s for all your meals.
Best for Body Builders: Mighty Macros
Why We Chose It:
Just like there are many different bodies, there are many different types of bodybuilders. Mighty Macros offers customizable plans to help you get to your body goals in a variety of healthy ways.
Pros and Cons
- Made with organic, GMO-free ingredients
- Meals designed by a dietitian
- Formulated to hit macros for your goals
- No dairy, artificial sweeteners, refined sugars, or ultra-processed ingredients
- Integrated with MyFitnessPal
- Delivery issues are common
- Few options for vegetarians
Meal prep is the lifeblood of any serious bodybuilder, whether you’re looking to bulk up, cut, or sculpt. Mighty Macros provides flavorful plans for four different foci—weight loss, sculpting, performance, and gains. With each plan formulated by a dietician, you know that you’ll hit your macros and have fuel for your next goal.
The meals are flavorful—spicy basil chicken or rustic beef ragu, for instance—and feature organic, non-GMO ingredients. There are options to further customize, as well (you can stay paleo or avoid certain allergens if needed.) Plus, you can log your meals directly into MyFitnessPal. Now, that’s really hitting the easy button.
Meals cost about $9 to $12 each depending on the number of dishes selected and frequency of delivery. Mighty Macros is fairly new (it started in Australia) and is mainly available on the West Coast and in the mountain states. It is gradually widening its delivery area going East.
Best for Diabetics: BistroMD
Why We Chose It
If you’re struggling to control your diabetes, prepared meal delivery services are a lifesaver. BistroMD is designed by Dr. Caroline Cederquist to address a variety of conditions, including heart conditions, gluten intolerance, diabetes, and menopause.
Pros and Cons
- Physician-designed meals focused on weight loss
- Options for three meals a day plus snacks
- Lots of variety
- Small portion sizes
- Shipping charges
Portion control is one of the biggest hurdles that most dieters face, but BistroMD makes it easy. With options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can stay on track, whether you’re trying to drop pounds or control diabetes, heart disease, or gluten intolerance.
While BistroMD may not be the most gourmet option on the list, it does offer a hefty amount of dishes—more than 150 of them a week. That large variety ensures clients can find something great for every meal. And if you’re unsure of which way to go, the service offers nutritional guidance by phone.
One of the best perks of BistroMD is the option for snacks. Using its Essential and Tasty Snacks (EATS) program, users can pick prepackaged snacks that satisfy their urges for sweets or salty with high protein options to keep them full longer. That sounds like common sense planning!
Meals cost about $97 per week and include three meals a day.
Prepared meal delivery services can make life much easier when it gets a little hectic. Our top choice is Home Bistro because its gourmet options taste like you ordered Postmates but you don’t have to wait or tip your driver. Its wide selection can spice up any weekly meal plan or make for a great date night for you and a partner.
If you’re looking for more dietary control, there are many great options, whether you’re looking for weight loss, bulking up, or staying away from certain ingredients. Mighty Macros and BistroMD offer great guidance for restrictive diets. Paleo, keto, and vegetarian diets have great options to choose from including Factor, Pete’s Paleo, and Veestro.
How to Choose the Best Prepared Meal Delivery Service
In terms of budget, many services offer discounts for bulk buying or ongoing subscriptions. It's also important to check shipping rates and delivery times as one of the most common complaints of any service is shipping delays. Also, keep in mind variety is key: Even the best meals will get boring if there’s no change in options.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do Prepared Meal Delivery Services Work?
Prepared meal delivery services offer a menu of meals to choose from for a set price. Once ordered, the dishes are shipped to you either fresh or frozen using dry ice or ice packs. Meals can then be frozen for later or heated up for enjoying that week.
Are Prepared Meal Delivery Services Cheaper than Buying Groceries?
Prepared meals can vary in price but are typically more expensive than a normal grocery bill. However, you are saving a significant amount of time and effort since most meals are ready in five to 10 minutes.
Who Should Use a Prepared Meal Delivery Service?
Prepared meal delivery services are ideal for those with busy lifestyles and specific health goals. If you’re not comfortable in the kitchen, they are a great alternative to takeout or high-preservative frozen meals from the grocery store.
Are Prepared Meal Delivery Services Healthy?
Prepared meal delivery services can be healthy depending on the dishes you select. No matter what you choose, it will be portion-controlled, so overeating is less of a worry. Some gourmet options may be just as healthy or unhealthy as takeout from a restaurant or what you would make at home, while some diet-focused plans are extremely healthy.
When searching for the best prepared meal delivery services, we looked for companies that provide great-tasting food that match user goals. We examined 50 options to find the best candidates based on flavor, shipping costs, price per meal, and customer satisfaction levels.