Picture this: you come home after a long day of work, dreaming about sinking down on the couch, enjoying a plate of your comfort food, and watching mindless television.. only to realize that there’s no food waiting at home. And that you need to go grocery shopping and cook the food yourself if you want to eat.
The solution to this problem lies with meal delivery kits. Not only do they let you enjoy the comfort of a home-cooked meal, but they help you massively cut down on cooking and prep time.
Dinnerly and HelloFresh are two of the best meal kit delivery services in the market. But each of them has a different approach. Get your spoons and forks ready, and let’s dig into each service’s features and see which one is better suited to your needs.
Dinnerly was created in 2017 by parent company Marley Spoon as a budget-friendly alternative. Its subscription-based service delivers recipe kits that can be turned into delicious home-cooked meals in just 5 steps or less and within 30 minutes. Each recipe kit has a digital card with detailed cooking instructions attached. Dinnerly delivers throughout the contiguous U.S. This service is a great option for fussy and picky eaters who enjoy cooking but can’t spend a lot of money on grocery shopping or premium meal kits.
Founded in 2011, HelloFresh was one of the first companies to enter the meal kit market and quickly made a name for itself as America’s #1 meal kit delivery service. The goal behind HelloFresh was to change the way people ate by delivering pre-planned and portioned ingredient kits right to their doorstep. Like Dinnerly, HelloFresh’s meals take no more than 6 steps (or 30 minutes) to whip up and come with recipe cards sporting step-by-step instructions. HelloFresh delivers to 19 countries, including the U.S. and Canada. This service makes home-cooked meals accessible to people who don’t have a lot of time for extensive meal prep, and who value fresh, high-quality ingredients.
Dinnerly vs. HelloFresh: A Comparison
Even though Dinnerly and HelloFresh provide similar services, their approach is quite different. Let’s find out what they have to offer and how their services compare with each other.
Both Dinnerly and HelloFresh allow you to choose between 2 to 6 meals per week, with the choice to pick servings that feed either 2 people or 4. The cost per serving is where the two recipe kits primarily differ.
Here’s a detailed price breakdown based on number of servings you pick per week:
|Servings Per Week
|Dinnerly (Price Per Serving)
|HelloFresh (Price Per Serving)
When it comes to shipping costs, Dinnerly charges a flat fee of $11.99 per week, while HelloFresh’s shipping fee varies based on how many servings you order. You can expect to pay between $6.99 and $9.99 per box.
When combining the shipping fee with the cost per serving, Dinnerly emerges as the clear winner when it comes to cost. In fact, it’s one of the cheapest meal kit delivery services around. Not only do their meals start from just $4.99 per serving, but their shipping fees also remain the same no matter how many servings you order.
Want a cheaper alternative to HelloFresh? Check out EveryPlate and see how they stack up against each other.
Meal Plan Options and Customization
With Dinnerly, you can take your pick from over 100 recipes every week from a variety of classic and international cuisines. Although you can’t customize meals fully, keyword tags make it easy to pick vegan, fast, dairy-free, gluten-free, and low-carb options. You’ll also see some meals tagged with the “customizable” option, which means you can opt to swap out the proteins for a different (organic or vegan) alternative.
Classic meal plan choices include Black Bean Huevos Rancheros and Japanese Chicken and Egg Rice Bowl. If you’re craving something more refined, you can add some premiYUM dishes such as a Creamy Truffle Gnocchi or a Creamy Lobster Ravioli for an additional fee. Each week, Dinnerly also features “saver” dishes that let you save at least $1 per serving. There are also ready-made dishes, desserts, and snack options to round out your weekly meals.
HelloFresh offers 50+ recipes each week (I counted almost 75) to choose from, with each dish containing tags as well as detailed allergen and nutritional information. You can filter recipes by options like pescatarian, veggie, or family-friendly. You can view prep time at a glance, and the cooking instructions contain photos as well—both features that aren’t available with Dinnerly.
In addition to staple foods, HelloFresh offers a wide variety of cuisine with unique spice blends to create mouthwatering meals. Their menu also offers a bit more variety than Dinnerly. Some examples include Moo Shu Beef Bowls, Cheesy Beef Tacos, and Flatbreads. If you want something a little extravagant, you can choose a “gourmet” meal such as Beef Tenderloin or Duck Breasts for an additional fee. Desserts, snacks, breakfast, and brunch options are all available, but HelloFresh doesn’t offer ready-made meals.
Unlike Dinnerly, HelloFresh allows you to pick your meal preference before you sign up. You can choose between meat and veggie, veggie (and vegan), fit-friendly, family-friendly, quick and easy, and pescatarian. There are no , gluten-free, or nut-free options. You also have the option of customizing your meals according to your preferences under “HelloCustom.” For example, swapping out chicken for potatoes.
Winner: It’s a tie!
Recipes and Ingredient Quality
Dinnerly sources high-quality ingredients from trusted supplies across the U.S, with some of them being organic. Their meat originates locally (except for their beef, which is grass-fed and originates from Australia) and is antibiotic-free (there’s no mention of whether they’re treated with hormones). You’ll also receive some microwaveable products like canned sauce instead of freshly made sauce, which is a bit of a bummer.
Though unchopped, the ingredients are pre-portioned and of good quality. Dinnerly doesn’t provide any recipe cards, so you’ll have to pull up the recipes on their website while cooking, which can be inconvenient for some. Each meal takes between 10-40 minutes to prepare.
Some customers have complained about deliveries missing an ingredient or two. If this ever happens to you, hit up their customer service.
HelloFresh sources high-quality, seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients. Their produce (which is sometimes organic) comes to you straight from the farm, so it’s best if you rinse them before cooking. Their meat is hormone-free and sourced from local vendors who adhere to all USDA inspection guidelines and they periodically conduct on-site visits to ensure quality. They have an animal welfare policy in place, and their seafood is ocean-friendly and has either an MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) or BAP (Best Aquaculture Practices) certification.
All the ingredients come pre-proportioned but unchopped. Each box comes with printed recipe cards that contain step-by-step instructions with pictures to make cooking easier for you. You can expect their meals to take anywhere between 10-40 minutes to prepare. However, there have been some customer complaints about rotten ingredients as well as the portion sizes of the produce being too small. They also ship fresh meat instead of freezing it, and several people have complained about the meat leaking by the time it arrives. If this happens to you, talk to their customer service (who are very responsive) and try to get it resolved.
Delivery Times and Locations
Dinnerly currently delivers all over the contiguous USA on multiple days between 8 a.m to 9 p.m. The delivery day(s) available to you are based on your location, which you’ll be able to see when you enter your zip code. If your area has multiple delivery days available, you can choose the one that’s the most convenient for you.
HelloFresh delivers all over the contiguous USA as well as to certain locations in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Anchorage, Alaska. They deliver 7 days a week between 8 a.m and 8 p.m., with certain areas reserved for specific delivery days. When you enter your zip code, you’ll be able to pick your delivery dates.
Winner: It’s a tie!
Packaging and Sustainability Efforts
One of the ways in which Dinnerly cuts down on costs is by packaging all the ingredients for the week together, instead of separating them by recipe. While inconvenient, it does save space, especially if you don’t have a fridge or pantry large enough to stock multiple packets.
Everything is packaged neatly with recyclable ice packs and the proteins are vacuum sealed for freshness. Dinnerly’s packaging is recyclable, with the cardboard being made using FSI certified paper sourced from ethically managed forests. The liner or separator inside the box is either recyclable (if it’s a foil pouch or thermal liner) or biodegradable (if it’s a cotton liner).
All plastic packaging, bottles, containers, and plastic bags included can be recycled. If you want to go the extra mile, look for the “Climate Hero” label which indicates recipes have a lesser carbon footprint.
HelloFresh uses specially designed boxes with insulated liners and gel packs to keep your ingredients fresh in transit. What I love about their packaging is that they separate ingredients by recipe and package them into neat little paper bags, which makes prepping so convenient! Sometimes, they wrap individual veggies in plastic to prevent them from going bad.
Their Box Fit system determines the perfect box size based on your order, thereby reducing unnecessary carbon emissions. Their entire packaging–right from the box to the separators and liners–is recyclable. The insulating liners are made using honeycomb paperboard as well as recycled cotton, jute, and kraft paper, and they use protein pouches instead of traditional liners. The main box is made using a mix of recycled and virgin fibers, while the separators are made with low-density chipboard. You can find more info about how to recycle their packaging here.
HelloFresh also uses 100% renewable energy, has a shorter supply chain, and offsets all its carbon emissions.
Ease of Use
Both Dinnerly and HelloFresh are pretty easy to use. Both services also send you reminders about your impending deliveries and let you see the menus weeks in advance so that you can skip or cancel your order at any time. The meals come with an ingredient list as well as instructions and don’t take more than 30-40 minutes to prepare.
The only thing I’d like to mention here is that HelloFresh allows you to search within the menu based on categories, while that option isn’t available with Dinnerly. However, Dinnerly does have tags and a taste profile to help you narrow down your choices. Again, HelloFresh also comes with paper recipe cards, while Dinnerly only offers digital recipe cards.
Final Verdict: Dinnerly or HelloFresh?
Based on my comparison, HelloFresh reigns supreme; however, that doesn’t mean that Dinnerly doesn’t have a place in your kitchen.
If you’re very budget-conscious, Dinnerly might be the better choice for you. If you want a premium service with a high level of care for sustainability, pick HelloFresh. If you want lots of variety and choice, choose Dinnerly. If having a lot of choices to pick from overwhelms you, choose HelloFresh as their menu is easier to filter.
Try out Dinnerly or HelloFresh to experience both for yourself and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.