December 14, 2016

TRIED & TESTED

Do you ever wish you had a personal chef? Or maybe a personal grocery shopper? Or even just someone to plan out your meals so you get time to cook?!

Life can be hectic, and most of us need a helping hand in putting good food on the table at the end of the day without stressing. In our home eating real food is important, and taking the time to pause in the day for a meal is high up on our priority list because mealtimes are our moments to stop, to be present and breathe in our often hectic days.

But let’s be real, the meal planning, grocery shopping, hours of prep and then leftover ingredients and mess can make cooking at home sound anything from daunting to outright not a feasible option.  

Enter the meal delivery box.  

Just the meals. Ready to go. Nothing else. No grocery store, no meal planning, not even prep if you don’t want it, no leftovers, no waste. It’s a genius solution, and with a surge in popularity there is now truly an option for everyone no matter the way you eat, your needs, budget, and character.  But knowing which one to pick is overwhelming so we wanted to give them all a test drive and see just how life changing they really are, and who they’re for! 

What We Learned 

So after opening our front door to find the boxes, then cooking, tasting, and analyzing the short answer is this: they are all inspired.  None of them paid us to say it, but we were genuinely impressed.  The styles and ideal consumer is definitely different for each box so below we’ve outlined which one we think is perfect for you!  It’s a great way to eat well, save the cost of takeout and put fresh healthy options on the table, (and maybe even a bottle, or breakfast too!). There’s something for everyone! Before we give you our thoughts on each box, here are some things we learned with all the services that you might want to note as you order:

  • All the companies will work with your meal schedule needs, which is really useful for real life. Some are more flexible than others but all allow you to skip a week for free, or cancel!
  • Great as they are, beware subscriptions. Tip: As soon as you sign up, set a reminder for the day before it renews so you can choose if you need it that week.
  • You might still need the store! With the services where you prep meals yourself you’ll usually need a couple of staples: salt, pepper, and oil and one even needed an egg.
  • Find a great blender! The smoothie options definitely need a high powered blender for the best results.
  • Fridge space! If you’re not used to doing a big grocery haul and/or you share a fridge – you might be surprised how much fridge space you need for all the packaged ingredients.
  • If you’re ordering for 1, consider getting a 2 person menu and using leftovers for lunches.
  • If you have more than 2 adults and 2 kids you’ll be doing some custom ordering, the general design is for 1-2 adults with some packages catering for 2 small mouths as well.

The Reviews:

For each service we’ve given you the person we imagine tucking in to each box so you can picture which one might be right for you, then we’ve identified the unique things we loved about each box, and any points to note as you make your choice, maybe drawbacks of factors to weigh up in your decision. You can click through each one from the list, or just scroll down the page!

Blue Apron . Terra’s Kitchen . Hello Fresh . Home Chef . Sun basket . Green Chef . Green Blender . Marley Spoon Freshly . Daily Harvest . Factor 75

______________________________

Terra’s Kitchen

Who’s it for? You want to finish your busy days by creating a great, calm dinner time in your home with as little energy as possible.  You want real food and you want variety, but your life needs convenience. There are different preferences in your home so you need something to cater to everyone, and every week looks different so you need a highly customizable menu system with zero hassle. Covering everyone from hungry pasta eaters to vegan power bowl lovers, Terra’s Kitchen is going to arrive on your doorstep with the bonus that it leaves you no large boxes and cool packs to get rid of – they’ll come and whip the box away the next day, keeping your life clean and simple.

What we loved: The ‘space capsule’ it arrives in! Yes, we were a little mesmerised by the vessel that the food came in and how it gets picked up from your doorstep and taken away the very next day. More importantly, we thought this was one of the best tasting services that we tried as well as having high quality ingredients (including grass fed meats). The menu is highly customizable, and we had the freedom to choose whatever meals we were in the mood for or be fully surprised!

Points to note: To start with we found the website hard to to navigate, as good as it is to have a fully customisable menu, the number of options and individual pricing could be overwhelming. However if you want abundant options, it won’t overwhelm you, you’ll love it!

Price: $$$$$ (with some flexibility) Use code FOODDIARY30 for $30 off your first order! 

Back to List

Hello Fresh

Who’s it for? You need convenience, you want someone else to make your food choices for you, and you don’t want the hassle of choosing or shopping for your meals each week. The idea of being coming home to great tasty meals that you can have the fun of quickly preparing without breaking the bank is a lifesaver.  You love food and you don’t have dietary restrictions, so you’ll love whatever seasonal fresh meal Hello Fresh delivers to your doorstep. You just get to cook and plate the meal, then tuck in with low effort and all the dinner table enjoyment.

What we loved: We loved the simplicity, and finding recipes that included seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients.  They offered a vegetarian friendly meal plan option which was the one we chose.

Points to note: The classic meal plan is the only meal plan offered by Hello Fresh that allows you to customize what meals come in your box. If you have specific dietary requirements you might feel a tad constrained if you like or need options.

Price: $$$  

Back to List

Home Chef

You enjoy cooking yourself sometimes but it can be overwhelming and you don’t have the time to plan it all out for everyday. You know what you like to eat though and you want to know what’s in your food.  Your schedule likes the ease of takeout after a long day, but you’d prefer a healthier route with the option to tailor your meals to exactly what you want.  But really is it possible without a hefty price tag? Home chef is your option. Designed for every and any level of kitchen ability, you’ll get highly customizable options that are still delicious hearty favorites – you get to choose, cook, and eat, all within your budget.

What we loved: Home chef provided great information on their meals in terms of allergens, calories etc. and we found their meals really easy to prepare! It’s highly customizable, with low calorie/protein/shellfish free/nut free options for good solid meals.

Points to note: We found these meals simple and easy to prepare, our meals were on the table within 30 minutes. You can add breakfast or a fruit basket to your order!

Price: $$

Back to List

Sunbasket

Who’s it for? You care about quality and health for you and for the environment too. You want more than just a tasty convenient meal because you care about eco friendly packaging as much as organic sustainably sourced ingredients. Your life is full and a burst or inspiration, ease and organisation would a treat! You want something fresh rather than takeout, and your palate wants well sourced seasonal ingredients. You’re going to love opening your Sun Basket box to discover cool packs made from non GMO cotton and water, and you’ll be equally excited to recycle your whole box as you will to tuck into a well sourced, creative, home cooked meal!

What we loved: Specific paleo, gluten free and veggie meal plan options. You can also hop on the website and see the farms where the ingredients are sourced, tracking your produce back to the farmer!

Points to note: Make sure you carve out the time you need to make these meals, we found some of these need a little extra prep investment!

Price: $$$$

Back to List

Green Blender 

Who’s it for? You love the creative menu at the juice bar, and you’d happily start each day there, except your budget and schedule disagree with popping by every day. So to help that you want to bring all the goodness of nutrition packed juices to your own kitchen… but you’re a superfood lover and you don’t want run of the mill. You want your money’s worth in your cup. The ingredients in the Green Blender pack are going to make your day! Whipping up black charcoal lemonades and discovering new ingredients as well as what they do for your body is going to make you so happy, Green Blender will bring an injection of creativity and health to your daily routine!

 What we loved: We thought the smoothies were really creative adaptations on basic drink ideas and we loved trying some of the new ingredients! Our box left us with amazing new ideas for smoothies and juices to try. If you don’t like drinking your whole breakfast this is perfect for you – they’re light on calories while being nutrient dense, so you can just add them into your regular routine!

Points to note: We found that these smoothies were more refreshing than a replacement for a meal, which was perfect for us. 

Price: $$

Back to List

Marley Spoon

You savour meals round the table for more than just the food, you want the moments and you’re not going to let a busy lifestyle sell you on takeout.  You don’t just want a meal, you want an experience with your people, making creative food.  If you had the time you’d love to peruse the grocery aisles for exciting foreign ingredients and local, seasonal treats but your to do list is so long you’re never going to get to the store.  This box is for you! Martha Stewart has the ultimate box for making you the hostess, housewife, ambience creator with fun innovative meals with restaurant worthy names (anyone for a plate of Celery, Fennel, and Quinoa Salad with Fried Chickpeas, Almonds, and Feta?!), they’ve also got you special boxes to cover you for the holidays, seasonal ingredient specials, and local food highlights. The farmers market is coming to you, just set the table, light the candle, and call in the troops.

What we loved: Marley Spoon feels like so much more than just groceries shipped to your front door, it has a personal touch as well as being one of the best tasting options we tried. The ingredients were divided by meal into their own sealed paper bag for easy grabbing from the fridge, so it made the prep even easier!

Points to note: The focus is on innovative, exciting flavours and meals, so if you’re working with specific dietary requirements or need allergies catered to, you might find the menu hard to work with.

Price: $$$

Back to List

Freshly

Your life is busy and you don’t want to spend your spare minutes in the kitchen, even if the ingredients are delivered and prepped for you. Some nights you don’t even have a moment to order takeout let alone hitting the grocery store but you do know that fueling yourself well is essential to the success of your full life.  This one’s for you. Once a week you can take a moment and organise your next week, then you get the meals delivered, ready to heat and enjoy. No prep.  Maybe this week you need breakfasts and dinners, so you’re filling your fridge with quinoa breakfast bowls and bacon frittatas, while you eat lunch at work.  Next week you miss breakfasts because you’re working early but you want lunches to go without even thinking. You’re going to love the convenience and flexibility of Freshly! You want to pop you meal into heat in two minutes while you send and email, this box delivery is going to free your life up to achieve everything that’s in your busy schedule!

What we loved: You can fully customize your meals, no plans but you actually select each meal so you get exactly what you want. 

Points to note: If you’re extra hungry you might want a side as well, but this also means if you’re counting calories there’s room for that glass of wine too at the end of a long day, or a bite of chocolate! 

Price: $$$$

Back to List

Factor 75

You’re running life at a fast pace, you leave work, hit the gym, and then head to a meeting.  There’s a lot you don’t have time for but subpar food is not one of them.  While ordering take out or skipping a meal would work well for your schedule, even in the midst of a full life you really care about what you put in your body.  You need a grab and go pre made option with pastured proteins, and organic veggies that you can pack in your gym bag, or eat between meetings with zero prep. Equally you want more than nutritious sustenance, even if it’s only a 2 minute dinner break, you want interesting options like boar burgers, and mongolian beef to give you a mood and energy boost before you keep changing the world!

What we loved: Factor 75 has a wide range of clean, high quality, convenient meals including those that cater to paleo, ketogenic and nut free preferences.  Every meal is made without gluten, soy, GMOs, hormones, antibiotics, and preservatives and it’s ALL organic. 

 Points to note: We thought that the portion sizes could have been bigger although by the calorie counts the meals were great. It’s hard to get the same fresh meal feel with a fully pre packaged setup, but if that’s what you’re needing then they do really well – and the quality of the ingredients is unbeatable. Unfortunately Factor 75 is not available country wide!

Price: $$$$$

Back to List

Daily Harvest

When you want your breakfast as instagram worthy as your outfit, but you don’t have the time to plan, prep, or the effort of cleaning dishes. You’re not superficial about your health though, you want a solid breakfast or afternoon pick me up and you care about great organic ingredients.  You day needs fuel so you want something that will actually give you energy and stave off hunger while you hustle through the hours until the next meal. You’ll blend this up faster than you do your makeup, and then you pop a lid on the same cup the ingredients arrived in as you walk out the door, with zero dishes to clean. Hello. For the mornings when you have an extra two minutes… turn it into a smoothie bowl with some goodies on top and take a moment to breathe and soak up the ultimate no stress health kick for your day.

What we loved: These yummy smoothies can be consumed as a whole meal or smaller snacks. They were quick and convenient to prepare, and we loved the variety of flavours.

Points to note: Everything arrives frozen and needs to be popped in the freezer. Daily Harvest say that their smoothies are the best with nut milk but that isn’t included, although you can absolutely use water. For the cooler months, Daily Harvest also offer a range of soups, so you are all set year round!

Price: $$$$

Back to List

Green Chef

You love clean organic food on your table but need inspiring with some new ideas and a helping hand of organizing your meal plan!  You’d sort of like a personal chef but you actually like cooking too… this one’s for you! You’ll love the clean, fresh, menu with creative flavours and new twists on dishes. Pull out the colour coordinated, fully pre sliced and diced ingredients and you’ll have a tasty, completely organic meal on your table after a really short and simple kitchen session!

What we loved: Green Chef caters to basically any dietary requirement (including paleo and vegan). They provide 100% organic produce which we LOVED to make up really quick and tasty meals! We were impressed with the traceability for Green Chef’s produce – all their produce is sustainably sourced.

Price: $$$$$

Back to List

Blue Apron

Who’s it for? Dinner is your moment to exhale at the end of a long day, and it’s a much needed moment of calm happiness.  But by the time you crash home after work, hours to grocery shop just don’t exist, and you find yourself picking up takeout one night a week more than might be ideal. You dream of arriving home to a delicious dinner (and wine pairing) a few nights a week to help you out, and preferably without killing your budget… and it exists. With a few clicks you can choose your fresh meals at the start of the week, from plates like BBQ chicken to Thai Green Curry then Blue Apron will suggest the bottles to drink alongside, and it will all be waiting for you to pick up and make those precious evening moments happen with ease.

What we loved.  We really loved Blue Apron’s wide variety of family friendly meal options, (yummy plates like Broccoli and White bean burgers) along with the ability to somewhat customize your weekly meal order. We could have also filled our cart in their vast online store that makes it easy to purchase everything from utensils, to spices, to wine to go with your meals!

Points to note: If you have specific dietary needs (paleo, vegetarian, vegan etc) you will not have as many options for meals as some of the other meal delivery services. Blue Apron can work with dietary limitations but you’ll have fewer options for tasty meals.  Use THIS link for 3 FREE meals! 

Price: $$

Back to List

SHARE THIS POST

7 Responses to “TRIED & TESTED”

  1. Gay Harris

    Kezia,
    What a gift! We’ve wanted to try some of these but never pulled the trigger because of the “unknown”. We figure with the 2 of us, one of these serviced could actually save us money since three wouldn’t be any waste.
    Thanks Again!

    • thewholefooddiary

      I’m glad it helped you, yeah the unknown would be intimidating to me too! I really think the waste factor is real. If you usually end up having food leftover/unused they would definitely save you money, and they make life so much easier a few nights a week!!

  2. Katie Aull

    I Love that you did this! I didn’t even know that some of these existed. Thanks! I have a quick question 🙂 The services that have the meals already prepared look like they are only for one person. Is there a service that would make a prepared meal for a family? I guess I could order multiples of one meal but then of course it’s alot of packaging. My husband travels and I have three kids so you can imagine I would love a break a couple times a week!

    • thewholefooddiary

      The ones I tried delivered individual portions apart from the smoothies/soups from Daily Harvest which delivered two light portions. But the packaging is less when you buy the whole meal ready made rather than all the pieces to make yourself so I’d say buying for a family would be on par with the make-your-own service for 1-2 people in terms of packaging. But I also totally get your point, and the packaging was the downside of the services in general – although fun to see how some have come up with really great eco friendly-er alternatives!

Related Posts

A Cosmetic Detox (and a whole lot more).

Eco + Conscious Living, lifestyle

(A little preamble for context: I mention a lot of products/brands/apps here but I’m not paid by any of them to talk about them, I promise! My purpose here was to…

10 Tips for Eating Organic on a Tight Budget

Health and Wellbeing, lifestyle

Guest post: by Lauren Dahl of The Living Home Blog.  Lauren is a great friend of mine, we lived together for a year while we both ate a 100% raw vegan…

My Cast Iron How To!

Health and Wellbeing, Instagram Live Notes, lifestyle

Last week I posted a story on Instagram showing how I use cast iron for scrambled eggs and have a clean pan afterwards and so many of you asked questions…

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

lifestyle

Most of what gets posted around here is from me, Kezia, but Jared is a huge part of the journey and I’ve wanted him to share a bit from his journey…

Live Below the Line: Eating on $1.50 a day

Health and Wellbeing, lifestyle

    Is it possible to eat healthily on $1.50 a day for 5 days? The Challenge: My sister Johanna texted me a few weeks ago, ‘I want to do Live…

BIRTHDAY GIVEAWAY GOODNESS!

Gift Ideas, holidays, lifestyle

The giveaway is (mostly – see the end!) done but I wanted to make sure you had the info so you can still get your hands on all the amazing products…