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Meal Delivery Services Compared: Is One Right for Your Family?

Preparing and enjoying meals with family is one of the healthiest things you can do all day, not to mention a great way to stay connected despite busy schedules. But coming home from work after a long day and digging through the fridge to throw something together for dinner can feel daunting, uninspired, and downright exhausting.

This’s why meal delivery services such as Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and Plated have surged in popularity and created a multimillion-dollar market that’s projected to continue growing. The trend took off a few years ago and has only gotten bigger thanks to convenient, diverse, and gourmet meal options that take the guesswork out of dinner and help ease the hassle of grocery shopping.

In this article, we dig in to three of the most popular meal delivery companies serving the Birmingham area to help you decide if one of them is right for your family.

Blue Apron

Blue Apron was one of the early pioneers in the subscription food box movement and remains one of the most well-known names in the industry. This is a great starting point if you are new to meal delivery and are curious to try it out. People love Blue Apron because of the rotating seasonal menu, experimental food options, and generous portions. Expect leftovers unless you’re feeding a large family!

However, some people find the individual ingredient packaging to be excessive and wasteful. Blue Apron is one of the more affordable meal delivery services available, though Consumer Reports didn’t have many positive things to say about the recipes’ taste and availability of nutrition information compared to other services.

Like many modern food delivery services, Blue Apron focuses on meat with no added hormones, sustainably sourced seafood, and farm-fresh produce. Meal plans start at $8.74 per serving, with two-person plans of three meals per week coming out to about $59.94, while a four-person plan with four meals per week runs $139.84. Blue Apron also delivers wine at $10 per bottle to accompany meals.

HelloFresh

With the help of partner/chef Jaime Oliver, HelloFresh specializes in simple recipes that are easy to make and allow for improvising when necessary. Most of the dishes feature American food favorites rather than getting experimental with ethnic cuisine.

But unlike Blue Apron, the packaging is sparser and recyclable, which may appeal to eco-friendly consumers. This is a good option for busy families that have limited cooking skills or culinary interest and don’t want to be overwhelmed by meal preparation. Consumer Reports ranks HelloFresh highly because the dishes are easy to make, highly nutritious, and taste great. Others have criticized the brand’s recipes as being lackluster and unimaginative.

HelloFresh’s classic plan and vegetarian plan both cost $9.99 per person and serve two to four adults. There’s also a family plan for $8.74 per person that is designed to serve two adults and two children.

Plated

Plated is the meal delivery service of choice for discerning foodies that have money to spend on gourmet meals. The recipes are a little more challenging to follow, but the amazing food they render is well worth the effort if you enjoy cooking. According to a Consumer Reports comparison, Plated meals are ranked best for taste but aren’t generally as healthy as some of the other meal delivery options.

First, you let Plated know how often you like to cook and what foods you enjoy. Then each week, the company lets you choose from 12 new recipes and optional desserts in portion sizes for two, three, or four people. The meal plans cater to omnivores, vegetarians, seafood lovers, and dessert lovers. The cost of Plated starts at $12 per serving, and your first week with three meals starts between $48 and $96 before the price increases.

Choosing the Best Meals for Your Family

Our ultra-busy lifestyles, growing health consciousness, and the fast-food pushback have all contributed to the popularity of these services. If you can afford the convenience, they may be able to help you and your family eat fresh, whole foods more regularly.

As you can see, each of these meal delivery services offers something a bit different, and there are others that we didn’t touch on here. Based upon our review of these three popular Birmingham options, we recommend Plated for taste and excitement, HelloFresh for simplicity and healthiness, and Blue Apron for variety and price.

But with each company, nutritional quality is largely determined by the specific dish you’re making that night. Each plan has a similar model, and all three companies place a high value on organic, sustainable, and fresh ingredients. So ultimately, the choice comes down to what your priorities are, how much time you have, and what you’re willing to spend.