We cooked meals from Blue Apron and HelloFresh to see which meal kit delivery service is best
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- Eating at home instead of getting takeout has gotten a lot easier with the rise of the meal kits.
- But with so many options to choose from, it can be hard to know exactly which plan or subscription is right for you.
- We put Blue Apron and HelloFresh head to head to determine which meal kit wins our hearts and our bellies. In this case, it was simply too close to call.
- HelloFresh is ideal for simplicity, speed, and convenience, while Blue Apron is better for cooks who want to get creative and explore new flavors.
- See more: The best meal kit delivery services
If ever there was a cure to your Seamless obsession, it's another kind of delivery — the meal kit delivery. Here to save you from the never-ending rotation of takeout, these meal kits are re-introducing you to your kitchen in all its wonder. As it turns out, your stove is just as important as your microwave.
But just as it can be a challenge to pick your favorite take-out restaurant, it can be difficult to pick your favorite meal kit delivery service. We've taste-tested plenty of brands to put together our comprehensive buying guide, which you can check out here, but we're also helping narrow down your decision-making process with comparison pieces like this. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.
Both Blue Apron and HelloFresh are veritable giants on the meal kit scene. They've been around for years, and have built up a loyal base of followers thanks to their tasty recipes, wide selections, and ability to cater to various dietary restrictions. Both feature solid produce and protein options and are fantastic for a date night activity.
But there are certainly some aspects in which Blue Apron and HelloFresh begin to differentiate themselves from one another, and that's really how you'll be making your decision. Here are our thoughts after testing both.
Ease of use
If we're thinking in terms of pure convenience, HelloFresh is a bit easier to use than Blue Apron. While both are extremely convenient, HelloFresh is more focused on providing meals that are truly no fuss, and as a result, can be ready in just a matter of minutes.
Blue Apron, on the other hand, sometimes requires just a bit more prep work or expertise — as a tradeoff, however, you may find Blue Apron's meals a bit more complex and interesting.
I've found many of HelloFresh's recipes to be a bit more straightforward and easy to follow, which is ideal for the beginner chef. If you're just looking to dip your toe into culinary waters and are beginning to make your way around four burners and an oven, then HelloFresh certainly seems a bit less intimidating.
While both Blue Apron and HelloFresh's directions are very clear, it often seems as though HelloFresh's recipes simply require fewer steps. Not only is that ideal for the beginner chef, but it's also well-suited for folks who perhaps are in a bit more of a rush. And if your main draw to a meal kit is convenience through and through, then HelloFresh is the way to go.
Recipe quality and creativity
What Blue Apron may lack in convenience, it makes up for in creativity. The meal kit service is looking to put a bit of a gourmet spin on home cooking, and consequently, if you're looking to expand your horizons a bit, you'll be able to do so with Blue Apron.
I appreciate the internationally-inspired meals like Mushroom Tempura Rice Bowl or Crispy za'atar Chicken Tenders, which have the capacity to introduce cooks not only to new flavors but perhaps new techniques as well. Indeed, it's not all that often that you'll find meal kits making use of ingredients like fregola sarda, but Blue Apron could make it a staple in your kitchen.
For slightly more experienced chefs, Blue Apron is an ideal way to begin to expand horizons and check out different flavor combinations in a relatively risk-free environment. I've also had a number of friends adapt Blue Apron recipes to their own needs, something that seems more unique to this particular meal kit service than any other that I've tried.
Winner: Blue Apron
Ability to cater to dietary preferences
HelloFresh has recently become something of a meal kit behemoth, acquiring a number of smaller meal kit services including Green Chef. As a result, HelloFresh now offers a wide range of menus, including pescatarian, paleo, and vegetarian options.
While Blue Apron also offers some menus that are catered specifically toward these various dietary restrictions, they're not quite as well-curated as those of HelloFresh. As a result, if you're really looking to satisfy very specific dining or cooking habits, you may have a slightly easier time picking out your weekly menu through HelloFresh.
While Blue Apron also caters to different needs, it's a bit more difficult to actually narrow down your search by way of specific filters, so HelloFresh is a clear winner in this category.
Perhaps the deciding factor when it comes to picking a meal kit, taste is inevitably a subjective metric. I will say that given the variety of meals that I've been able to experience through HelloFresh with its many different menu options, there is more room for exploration through this service.
However, it's not always the case that all recipes are equally delicious. I've found that some HelloFresh meals are much more interesting than others and that there's more variation in terms of the level of quality.
Blue Apron, on the other hand, seems a bit more reliable in terms of quality. Though there may be a slightly lesser range of options available, I know that all options will be equally delicious.
Winner: Blue Apron
The best way to compare meal kit prices is by meal and serving.
Blue Apron costs $9.99 per serving and offers free shipping if you opt for three recipes that feed two people a week. This totals to $59.94 for one week. HelloFresh will cost you $8.99 per serving for three recipes that feed two people a week but will also tack on an additional $6.99 for shipping. This totals to $60.93 for one week's worth of meals. If we're going by this math, Blue Apron wins this one by a single dollar.
However, there are ongoing introductory deals that'll drop the cost down a bit, though the deals might change over time. Currently, Blue Apron is giving new users $50 off their first two orders (so $25 off each order); just sign up for a new account and the discount would be applied at checkout.
Over at Hello Fresh, new email subscribers can take $15 off their orders by providing an email for news and updates, and new users can save $80 on their first four boxes and get free shipping as well. Both are ongoing deals, but they cannot be combined.
Depending on how many recipes and servings are in each order for either service, these discounts mean the prices will ultimately differ greatly, so we're calling this one a draw.
Winner: Too close to call
The bottom line: Too close to call
The choice between HelloFresh and Blue Apron ultimately comes down to convenience and your desire for new flavor profiles. If your priority is a quick, convenient, and delicious dinner, then HelloFresh becomes the obvious winner.
On the other hand, if you're looking to do a bit more exploration with your cooking and are eager to try out new techniques, then Blue Apron is the one for you. Either way, you'll be doing yourself a favor by giving takeout a day off.
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