Best Meal Prep Services: Convenience and Taste Delivered to Your Doorstep

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If you're crunched for time and looking for ways to eat more meals at home, consider a meal prep service. These subscription-based services feature ready-to-eat meals or meal kits with the ingredients you need to make home-cooked meals. And the best part? The meals are delivered right to your doorstep.

Finding the right plan for you may take some time. But there are a few things to consider when evaluating companies. For example, the best meal prep services offer a variety of choices, flexible plans, tasty recipes, and easy ordering. They also include recipes for different diets and food plans like gluten-free, vegetarian, keto, low-calorie, and dairy-free.

Some people may choose a meal prep service to help with weight loss. Others may like the convenience and variety of trying different recipes each week. Another perk of some meal prep services is getting a recipe card with each meal so you can recreate the dish later.

Here, the ACTIVE Reviews Team looks at seven different meal prep services and shares everything you need to know about finding the best service to fit your budget and dietary needs.

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The Best Meal Prep Services – Our Top Picks

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  • Best Overall Meal Prep Service: Freshly
  • Best Meal Prep Service for Weight Loss: BistroMD
  • Best Meal Prep Service for Vegetarians: Diet-to-Go
  • Best Meal Prep Service for Beginners: Diet Direct
  • Best Keto Meal Prep Service: Factor
  • Best Meal Prep Service for Picky Eaters: Dinnerly
  • Best Budget Meal Prep Service: EveryPlate

What is a Meal Prep Service?

A meal prep service or meal-kit delivery is a type of subscription service that specializes in delivering ready-to-eat meals or kits that include everything you need to make these meals at home. Some focus on fresh or frozen ready-to-eat meals that only require a few minutes in the microwave. Others send a box of ingredients with a recipe card for you to prepare and make the meal yourself. When you sign up, you'll choose the type of plan, number of meals per week, dietary preferences, and recipes you want to try. Most services will rotate recipes weekly, giving you a variety of meals to try. Some meal prep services only offer single-service sized meals, while others have plans for two, four, or six people. Once you make your selections, you'll choose a delivery date (or one will be provided for you), and then the meals will show up on your doorstep. It's that simple!

What to Look for in a Meal Prep Service

The best way to choose a meal prep service is to know why you want to try one and then compare your preferences to cost, dietary options, ingredients, and customization. Use the following factors when comparing meal prep services.

Cost Per Meal

Signing up for a meal prep service can be an investment. Some companies like EveryPlate are more budget-friendly, but they still require an ongoing subscription fee that may get costly over time. Cost transparency is key when considering a meal prep service. You should be able to get an accurate quote on the price per meal and per week. Also, look for any cancellation fees, shipping costs, or long-term contracts. In general, the price per meal can range from $5 to over $15, with most averaging $10 to $12 per serving.

Dietary Options

Meal prep services offer various dietary options such as paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian, keto, carb-conscious, diabetes-friendly, dairy-free, and more. If you follow a specific diet or have a health condition that requires a specialized eating plan, consider a meal prep service with registered dietitians or physicians on staff to help with meal customization.

Ingredients

Nutritional quality is a key factor when shopping for a meal prep service, especially if you have dietary needs that require the inclusion or exclusion of specific ingredients. The best meal prep services provide detailed information on each meal's nutritional information and ingredients. You'll also want to consider the quality of ingredients. If organic and non-GMO are priorities, make sure to look for identifying factors on the website, such as "certified non-GMO or organic ingredients." Another thing to remember is many meal prep services only offer frozen meals. If you want fresh meals delivered to your doorstep, make sure to read the fine print.

Customization

Another benefit of some meal prep services is you can customize a plan based on your needs. This is great news for people needing an eating plan for health conditions or a specific meal plan to support athletic goals like long-distance running.

Best Overall – Freshly

freshly

SPECS

  • Cost per meal: $8.99 - $11.70, depending on plan
  • Serving size: 1 serving per meal
  • Number of meals: 4-12 meals per week, depending on plan
  • Dietary restrictions: Gluten-free, purely plant, dairy-free, peanut-free
  • Customizations: No; each meal is prepared and shipped without customization

Check Price

When life gets busy, cooking is often one of the first things to go. Fortunately, meal prep services like Freshly offer fully cooked meals delivered to you fresh, not frozen. All you need to do is heat and serve, which is why we choose Freshly as our best overall meal prep service. Weekly plans include 4-5 meals, 6-7 meals, 10-11 meals, and 12 meals. The more meals you order, the more you'll save. For example, if you choose the 4-5 meal plan, you'll pay $11.79 per meal. Opt for 12 meals each week, and you'll pay $8.99 per meal. Plans are weekly, but you can skip a week or cancel your subscription before the weekly deadline.

Once you're ready to eat, all you do is remove the packaging, read the instructions, reheat for up to three minutes, and enjoy. Entrees include steak peppercorn, savory-sweet chicken teriyaki bowl, three-cheese turkey lasagna, bbq-glazed turkey meatloaf, and much more. Plus, they have gluten-free meals, a purely-plant based meal plan, peanut-free, dairy free options, carb-smart, and calorie-conscious. On average, each meal is about 13 ounces and ranges from 300 to 650 calories.

Freshly is not certified organic or non-GMO, which is something to be aware of if that is a priority. Also, because meals are delivered fresh, they have a refrigerator shelf life of three to five days. And finally, Freshly meals are single-serving, so they are not ideal for family-style cooking.

What We Like

  • Meals delivered fully prepared
  • Gluten-free, dairy-free, plant-based, carb-smart, and calorie-conscious options
  • Meals ready to eat in 3 min. or less
  • Uses recyclable materials for packaging
  • Meals stay cool up to 12 hours at your door after delivery

What We Don't Like

  • Little room for ingredient customization
  • Not much emphasis on organic/non-GMO ingredients
  • Not ideal for families

BUY: Freshly

Best for Weight Loss – BistroMD

BistroMD

SPECS

  • Cost per meal: $10.95 - $12.50 per meal, depending on plan
  • Serving size: 1 serving per meal
  • Number of meals: 10-20 per week, depending on plan
  • Dietary restrictions: Heart-healthy, gluten-free, diabetic-friendly
  • Customizations: Yes; custom program available

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Healthy weight loss requires a unique diet plan that is nutritionally sound but also calorie-conscious. BistroMD provides subscribers with nutritionally-sound plans designed and managed by Dr. Caroline Cederquist, MD, a physician and co-founder of BistroMD. You'll also receive support from a team of registered dietitians during the entire process.

BistroMD divides its plans by program types and the number of meals. The programs include standard, diabetic, keto flex, heart-healthy, menopause, and gluten-free. You then choose from a seven-day program with seven breakfasts, seven lunches, and six dinners or a five-day program with five breakfasts, five lunches, and five dinners. If you want to skip breakfast, opt for the seven or five-day lunch and dinner only plan. BistroMD also has a custom program available. And if snacks are on the menu, consider the EATS (Essential and Tasty Snacks) add-on. Plans are available for two or three snacks a day for five or seven days. They categorize the snack plan by women and men, with the women's program costing less than the men's. Fully-prepared frozen meals are delivered once a week. However, you'll need to thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before microwaving, which could be an issue for some people.

While BistroMD has a lot of variety, get ready to spend some money. The plans are not cheap. The seven-day full program costs $219.80 per week, the five-day full program costs $187.35 per week, the lunch and dinner plan for seven days costs $188.86, with the five-day lunch and dinner plan averaging $149.90 per week.

What We Like

  • Meals delivered fully prepared
  • Nutritionally-balanced, low-calorie meals
  • Options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks
  • Physician-designed weight-loss programs
  • 25% discount + free shipping on first order
  • Support from a registered dietitian

What We Don't Like

  • Meals are frozen
  • Minimal dietary accommodations
  • Number of plans and programs could be overwhelming
  • Shipping costs $19.95

BUY: BistroMD

Best for Vegetarians – Diet-to-Go

diet-to-go

SPECS

  • Cost per meal: $9 - $15 or more, depending on plan and number of meals
  • Serving size: 1 serving per meal
  • Number of meals: 10-21 per week
  • Dietary restrictions: Vegetarian, diabetes, carb-conscious
  • Customizations: No

Check Price

If vegetarian meals are a priority, you'll like Diet-to-Go. Designed with four menus in mind – balance, balance diabetes, keto-carb30, and vegetarian, this meal prep delivery service is an excellent option for health-conscious vegetarians looking for a balanced meal plan. All plans come with breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. The vegetarian menu includes meals like egg pot pie, mushroom ravioli, and black bean chili. Protein sources include dairy, eggs, beans, and some soy.

The online "choose your plan" tool takes you through a series of questions to determine the total cost based on the number of days and meals each day. Diet-to-Go offers seven- and five-day plans with two or three meals a day. For example, the five day vegetarian plan with three meals a day costs about $153.59 per week. Drop that down to two meals a day (no breakfast), and the price is $130.99 per week. If you want three meals a day, seven days a week, plan on $192.99 per week or $174.99 for two meals per day, seven days a week.

Each menu has different costs based on the food items available. For example, the vegetarian menu is cheaper than the keto-carb30 because it does not have meat, chicken, or seafood. Also, allow for extra time when reading up online. Diet-to-Go is not as transparent about costs, ingredients, and FAQs as other meal prep services.

What We Like

  • Fresh, fully-prepared meals
  • Options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Meals ready in 2-3 min.
  • Specific menus for vegetarian, diabetes, heart-healthy, and keto-carb

What We Don't Like

  • Some meals are very low in calories
  • Shipping costs $19.98 per week
  • Pricing is complicated and based on menu + plan

BUY: Diet-to-Go

Best for Beginners – Diet Direct

diet direct

SPECS

  • Cost per meal: $1.44 - $2.20+, depending on plan
  • Serving size: 1 serving per meal
  • Number of meals: 56-588 meals, depending on number of weeks and plan
  • Dietary restrictions: N/A
  • Customizations: No

Check Price

New to meal prep services? No problem. Diet Direct meal prep service offers meal replacement plans that are easy to follow and take the guesswork out of shopping, chopping, and cooking.

While Diet Direct is a meal prep service, it does not offer the same types of meals as other programs in this roundup. Instead, they focus on meal-replacement shakes, bars, snacks, and soups. You are responsible for dinner-time meals and other food items throughout the day. You'll generally consume two to three meal replacement shakes, one to two snacks, a lite entree or soup, and dessert. The rest is on you.

Diet Direct has three plans: basic, core, and premium. Each is available in 2-, 4-, 8-, and 12-week plans. If you opt for four weeks, the basic plan costs about $1.85 per meal and comes with four meals (shakes, bars, and snacks) per day for four weeks. The core plan contains the same products as the basic plan, plus lunch entrees and soups. This plan costs about $1.75 per meal and includes five meals per day for four weeks.

The premium plan has the same features as the core plan plus breakfast options, fruit drinks, and desserts. This plan comes with seven meals a day for four weeks and costs about $1.64 per meal.

What We Like

  • Affordable
  • Easy to follow
  • Meals and snacks are portable

What We Don't Like

  • Meals consist of shakes, snacks, bars, soups, and a few other items
  • No option for a regular meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner
  • Meals are highly processed

BUY: Diet Direct

Best for Keto – Factor

factor

SPECS

  • Cost per meal: $11 - $15, depending on plan
  • Serving size: 1 serving per meal
  • Number of meals: 4-18
  • Dietary restrictions: N/A
  • Customizations: No

Check Price

Whether you're just starting with keto or you've been following the lifestyle for years, finding a meal delivery service that focuses on keto-friendly foods can make sticking to the plan a lot easier. Factor meal prep service offers fresh high fat, low-carb meals right to your doorstep.

You can choose to receive 4, 6, 8, 12, or 18 meals each week. The four-per-week plan costs $15 per meal and the 18 meal per week plan costs $11 per meal.

The next step is to choose the type of diet: paleo, keto, or plant-based. Costs may vary slightly based on the diet you choose. The weekly menu always features at least 23 dietitian-designed recipes and eight to 10 keto-friendly options. Plus, Factor has a full menu of keto-friendly snacks as an add-on to a meal plan. Past keto meals included sun-dried tomato chicken, chipotle-rubbed pork chop, and Louisiana shrimp.

All Factor meals take less than two minutes to heat in the microwave. Because the meals are fresh, you'll want to refrigerate them immediately. However, they should stay fresh for up to seven days in the fridge.

What We Like

  • Fresh, fully-prepared meals
  • 27+ dietitian-designed meals each week
  • Meals are free of hormones, antibiotics, refined sugars, and GMO
  • Keto, low-carb, low calorie, and plant-based meals
  • Clear and simplistic pricing

What We Don't Like

  • More expensive than other meal prep services
  • No high-carb options
  • Not ideal for families

BUY: Factor

Best for Picky Eaters – Dinnerly

dinnerly

SPECS

  • Cost per meal: $4.99 and up
  • Serving size: 1 serving per meal
  • Number of meals: 3-6 per week
  • Dietary restrictions: N/A
  • Customizations: No

Check Price

Unlike most of the meal prep services in this roundup, Dinnerly does not offer ready-made meals that only require reheating in the microwave. With Dinnerly, you get the ingredients and a recipe, but you're responsible for the prep work and cooking. However, this allows you to omit or substitute an ingredient to satisfy picky eaters.

Another perk of Dinnerly is the cost. The service offers a plan for two or four people and the choice of three, four, five, or six recipes per week. Prices vary depending on the number of people and meal. For example, three meals for four people (12 total) costs $5.69 per portion. Six meals for four people is $4.99 per portion. If you choose the two-person plan, a six-meal per week program costs $5.79 per portion or $6.39 per portion for three meals.

Dinnerly meals feature fewer ingredients than many other meal prep services. Examples of past recipes include seared steak and ranch butter, low-cal garlic-butter shrimp, sweet and sour noodle stir-fry, and turkey chili mac.

What We Like

  • 45+ recipes each week
  • Affordable
  • 2- and 4-person plans
  • Good for families
  • Cooking process is simple and straightforward

What We Don't Like

  • Meals are basic
  • $10 shipping per delivery
  • No printed recipe cards
  • Lots of packaging

BUY: Dinnerly

Best for Budget – EveryPlate

everyplate

SPECS

  • Cost per meal: $4.99 and up
  • Serving size: 2 or 4 people
  • Number of meals: 6-20 meals, depending on plan
  • Dietary restrictions: No
  • Customizations: No

Check Price

If sticking to a weekly food budget is a priority, then EveryPlate is for you. This beginner and budget-friendly meal prep service is an excellent choice for anyone looking to expand their cooking time, try new recipes, and increase the number of home-cooked meals. EveryPlate recipes are simple, straightforward, and only have six steps.

EveryPlate has four plans, including the classic plate, veggie plate, family plate, and easy plate. Meals are available for two or four people and three, four, or five meals per week.

Each box contains all of the ingredients for each meal and recipe cards. You may need a few pantry items like pepper and salt. Examples of past meals include gooey stuffed pork burgers, creamy dijon chicken, roasted bell pepper flatbread, and bbq chicken legs. Meals should be cooked within one week of delivery.

Dinner for two people three times a week, costs $45.33 per week, four times a week costs $53.91 per week, and five times a week costs $62.89 per week. Dinner for four people three times a week costs $69.87 per week, four times a week costs $89.84 per week, and five times a week costs $109.79 per week.

What We Like

  • Affordable
  • Focus on hearty comfort food
  • Quick and easy preparation

What We Don't Like

  • Not as many healthy meals as other brands
  • No plans for special diets

BUY: EveryPlate

FAQs About Meal Prep Services


Is a meal prep service worth it?

Deciding if a meal prep service is worth it depends on your budget, dietary needs, and schedule. If you want to eat at home more but struggle to find the time to shop and cook, then a meal prep service may be worth it. Meal prep services provide convenience, quality, flexibility, healthier foods, and very little commitment. They're also a great way to discover new recipes. That said, they do require an upfront and ongoing cost that may be too much for some budgets.

What is the healthiest meal prep service?

Each meal prep service can support a healthy lifestyle. Overall, most kits offer healthy options like vegetarian, low-calorie, high protein, carb-conscious, or diabetic-friendly. However, some meal prep services like Freshly and Factor specialize in providing healthier recipes.

Are meal prep services good for weight loss?

Yes, meal prep services can be good for weight loss. That said, companies that feature single-serving meals are easier to follow if you're trying to lose weight. Meal prep services like BistroMD and Diets-to-Go specialize in calorie-controlled nutritionally sound meals that support a healthy lifestyle and weight loss goals.

What is the cheapest meal prep service?

If you plan on committing to a meal prep service, you'll need to make room in your budget to support a weekly fee. Depending on the service, meals can range from $5 to over $15 per person. You also need to consider the number of people you need to feed. If you're single, a meal prep service is more affordable. However, weekly deliveries can get expensive if you're feeding a family. Therefore, if you're looking for a budget-friendly meal prep service, we recommend EveryPlate. They offer some of the lowest prices and have plans for two and four people.

How to Meal Prep | Foods with Long Shelf-Life | Foods to Buy in Bulk | Cheap Meal Prep Ideas | Meal Prep Recipes | Meal Prep Containers | Meal Prep Services | Best Freezers

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