Meal Delivery Service Review Methodology

How we tested, rated, and reviewed 27 meal delivery companies

The marketplace for meal kit delivery services and ready-to-eat meals seems to be expanding every day with new options for nearly every style of cooking, eating, and health concern. There are meals for folks living an active lifestyle, meal kits for those who want a gourmet cooking experience, and plenty of ready-to-eat plant-based options. In order to help our readers sift through the choices, we set a team of experts to the task of testing and reviewing 27 of the most popular meal kit delivery services on the market.

Our team of project managers, writers, SEO managers, nutrition experts, data analysts, and food photographers spent four months on this project. The effort involved meticulously planning, testing, photographing, and analyzing the data we gathered to give our readers vetted, expert reviews of the services and how they work.

Data Collection

In an effort to give the most data-driven results on which meal kits are the best in the game, we recruited a team of food and nutrition experts and created an intricate scoring system based on the top areas of customer concern. Our end goal was to be able to put each meal kit to the test and evaluate them, without bias, against criteria that center the needs of our audience.

In collaboration with a registered dietitian and food industry consultant, our team designed a scoring rubric based on 50 data points across two surveys. Both surveys included questions related to the same categories including sustainability, customer experience, cookability, nutrition transparency, nutrition values, and of course, the eating experience. One survey was used by our expert testers, all registered dietitians, as they navigated the experience of trying out each meal kit, including researching menus and plans, placing orders, receiving and cooking meals, and engaging with customer service.

We gave the second survey to each company to fill out. Some of the information they provided is so in-depth that’s it’s not readily available on their websites.

We used information from the surveys both for scoring and the full reviews where it made sense. Once the surveys were completed, our data analysis team combed through the information on each service, crunched the numbers, and we arrived at the final scores assigned to each company.

Sustainability

a cardboard delivery box with meals and insulation

The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

The connection between the planet and our food supply is undeniable, and food companies are being tasked with taking a hard look at how they directly impact the environment. At this point, most of the major meal delivery companies have some form of sustainability program or platform, but each takes its own approach. Some companies have solutions centered around sourcing ingredients that promote animal welfare and biodiversity, while others opt to take more care with the packaging they use and try to reduce the amount of plastics. Rather than taking a stance on which approach is best, we instead awarded points for companies that have a clear platform based on scientific evidence, offer transparent information to customers, and of course, use less non-biodegradable packaging.

Customer Experience 

pamphlets and literature from a meal delivery service

The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

Nothing can make a meal feel more special than the element of hospitality, and that’s true whether you’re eating in a restaurant or ordering a meal kit. Those with the best experience factor have great customer service, flexibility, and perhaps even some customization. These are some of the elements around customer experience that helped the services we reviewed receive higher scores.

Cookability 

potato wedges on a baking sheet

The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

We love that the meal kit industry has options for all levels of cooking abilities—including those who want a true culinary experience and people who simply want to get dinner on the table as quickly as possible. All levels of cooking have something in common though: they need a recipe and support for the process. We scored companies in this area not based on how difficult meals are to make, but rather how possible they are with the materials customers are given. We gave points for well-written, clear recipes that are easy to find and effective for use, whether cooking the meal takes 2 minutes in the microwave or an hour on the stovetop.

Eating Experience 

a steak taco salad with vegetables and cheese

The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

A meal kit can have all the bells and whistles, but what purpose does it serve if you’re not excited to eat? This is likely the most subjective area of our research, but it simply could not be left out. In an effort to mitigate the bias of our testers’ varied taste buds, we structured this section around whether or not the food was fresh, met expectations for flavor and texture as advertised, and whether someone would order it again. Scores were higher in this category if the food was fresh, of high quality, and tasted as expected.

Nutrition Transparency

two recipe cards from a meal delivery service

The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

Each individual’s food and nutrition needs are highly individualized, whether you’re someone with a specific food allergy or just want to try out a new style of eating. As the range of needs grows, so does the necessity of information transparency around ingredients, nutrients, and more. High standards of accuracy and detail are required when it comes to providing the public with information that can directly impact health, so we dedicated a section of our scoresheet to it. Companies that offered high levels of nutrition information and ingredient and allergen information that was easy to access and simple to understand scored higher than those that provided less complete information that was harder to find and use in real-time.

Nutrition Values 

a piece of green paper with the words healthy habits challenge written in white

The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

Our mission is to help others live happier, healthier lives free from diet culture and weight-phobic trends. As we’ve taken steps to define our set of core values around evidence-based health and wellness, we wanted to include this perspective in how we evaluate meal kits looking to meet your food needs. We dedicated an entire section of our survey to evaluating companies based on marketing language, transparency around nutrition recommendations, and the overall restrictiveness of eating plans. Higher scores were given to companies that offer more flexibility, provide evidence-based dietary recommendations, and don’t rely on the language of diet culture and weight stigma to sell their products.

Meet the Team

Tori Martinet, MS, RD
Tori Martinet
Personal Detail

A licensed registered dietitian and culinary nutritionist, Tori Martinet works with individuals and brands on all things food and nutrition. She holds a bachelor’s degree in cellular and molecular neuroscience and a master’s in nutrition and exercise physiology.

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Kristy Del Coro, MS, RDN, CDN
Registered Dietitian, Culinary Professional
Kristy Del Coro, MS, RDN, CDN
Personal Detail

Kristy is a licensed registered dietitian nutritionist and trained culinary professional. She has worked in a variety of settings, including MSKCC and Rouge Tomate.

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Ayana Habtemariam, MSW, RDN, LDN
Registered Dietitian
Ayana Habtemariam, MSW, RDN, LDN
Personal Detail

Ayana Habtemariam, MSW, RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian, nutrition therapist, certified intuitive eating counselor, and macro social worker. She is the owner of Truly Real Nutrition and is particularly committed to increasing awareness of weight inclusive philosophies in Black communities.

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Marisa Moore, RDN, MBA
Registered Dietitian
Marisa Moore
Personal Detail

Marisa Moore is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a BS in nutrition science and MBA in marketing, and the founder of Marisa Moore Nutrition, a culinary nutrition communication and consulting practice. She is also a contributing editor for Food and Nutrition Magazine, and a contributor to People and U.S. News and World Report.

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Mia Syn, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian
Mia Syn
Personal Detail

Mia Syn, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and the host of Good Food Friday on ABC News 4. She has been a spokesperson and consultant for several major commodity boards including The Mango Board, Northwest Cherries, and the Blueberry Council. Mia has been featured in many major publications including Women’s Health, SHAPE, and Buzzfeed.

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Jonathan Valdez, RDN, CDE, CPT
Registered Dietitian, Certified Personal Trainer
Jonathan Valdez
Personal Detail

Jonathan Valdez, RDN, CDE, CPT, is a New York City-based telehealth registered dietitian nutritionist, certified personal trainer, and nutrition communications expert. He is the founder of Genki Nutrition and food director for Guild Magazine. Jonathan has been featured in Byrdie, Food Network, Business Insider, SHAPE, Women's Health, and more.

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Jason Devaney
Associate Editorial Director, Performance Marketing
Personal Detail

Jason Devaney is an associate editorial director on the Performance Marketing team at Dotdash Meredith. He has more than 20 years of editorial experience and has worked in a variety of roles at regional and national newspapers, magazines, broadcast networks, websites, and even startups.

He fell in love with food during a summer spent in Italy in 2014, and now spends his free time exploring local coffee shops, tasting his favorite French red wines, and experimenting in the kitchen.

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Hannah Kang
Research Associate, Performance Marketing
Personal Detail

Hannah Kang is a research associate at Dotdash Meredith, where she helps put together data-driven recommendations through research, data collection, rubrics, and more.

Hannah has an extensive background conducting research for Fortune 500 companies and multinational pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Takeda, and Merck. She holds a master’s degree in psychology and a bachelor's degree in psychology and social behavior.

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