Best prepared meal delivery services for 2023, tested and reviewed
Sometimes when the "what's for dinner" dilemma arises, the answer needs to be as easy as pressing the Quick Minute button on the microwave twice. The tricky part is finding microwavable meals that will satisfy you, aren't full of junky ingredients and conform to your dietary restrictions. We've got the solution — fully prepared meal delivery services that deliver a box of fresh meals directly to your door that will keep you from stopping at the drive-through window all week long. These prepared meal delivery services are the modern, healthier version of those 1980s TV dinners, and they save you time since there's no shopping or prepping involved, along with minimal cleanup.
- Best crowd-pleaser
- Best keto-friendly
- Best for vegans and vegetarians
- Best for accomplishing fitness goals
Fresh N Lean
- Most sophisticated
Lots of fully prepared meal delivery services are surprisingly affordable, some offer subscriptions for as little as $8 per serving (the more you order per week, the lower the cost per meal), and make eating nutritious meals a no-brainer. You can review the weekly menus, select your dishes and then — presto, a mail-order box will arrive on your doorstep within a few days. After a long day, you'll be able to heat up a dinner that you’ll feel good about and that doesn't require a trip to the grocery store or any prep work.
There are so many different heat-and-eat meals on the market, it's tough to decide where to start. That’s where I come in. I’ve been eating for a living for many years now, have a degree from the French Culinary Institute and have worked for various food publications. I'm also a mom, with an active teen and tween whom I cook for daily.
For this review, I tried all of the brands in the article at dinner with my family. I started with the most popular meal delivery services — the ones you’ve probably already heard of — choosing six brands (we'll update this list and add more as we try them) to evaluate based on the following criteria:
Subscription price, because everyone has different budgets.
Ease of use, because you’re getting a meal to make your life easier, so you don’t want anything too complicated or time-consuming.
Menu choices, because you want a good variety of meals, flavors and ingredients.
Taste, because above all, you want your dinner to be yummy!
Packaging: Is there too much? Too little? Is it putting out too much waste into the world? We factored this into our reviews.
In making the selections, I considered feedback from other on-staff meal testers for a variety of opinions (we got reviews from a family of five, a family with both an infant and a tween, and a family of three with vegetarians and vegans). I also weighed info from Facebook Groups devoted to discussing meal kits, plus expert advice from Jaclyn London, a New York City–based Registered Dietician.
Every heat-and-eat meal delivery service we reviewed has different strengths and weaknesses. Some offer more variety, some are great for families and others are geared toward vegetarians and those who prefer plant-based diets.
Before I share my picks, though, let’s learn a little more about fully prepared meal delivery services and answer some commonly asked questions:
What can I expect from a fully prepared meal delivery service?
A sigh of relief! You won't have to worry about what’s for dinner, or lunch or any meal that stresses you out. There are options to suit every budget and dietary need. These companies generally allow you to filter meals by your dietary restriction or preference (omnivore, vegan or plant-based, gluten-free, pescatarian, calorie conscious, heart-healthy, etc.). You can usually choose your delivery day and even add on extras like portions of fully cooked protein, breakfast foods, snacks and desserts.
What’s the best fully prepared meal delivery service for me?
With the market flooded with meals, choosing the right delivery service can feel overwhelming. Don’t worry — we tested loads of them so we could recommend the best meal delivery service of 2023 that’s just right for you. Because each brand has its own points of difference with offerings for people focused on everything from allergies to wellness to weight loss, you're sure to find one that suits your needs.
Are you nervous about taking the meal delivery plunge?
Most prepared-meal delivery companies offer major discounts to first-time customers, making it very affordable to try a bunch before you commit (or don’t) to any one plan. All you have to do is take advantage of any one of these offers and then mark your calendar with an alert for the date by which you must cancel the subscription.
Best crowd-pleaser prepared meal delivery service: Territory
First off, we appreciated that all Territory meals are made without refined sugar, dairy or gluten. I did not tell any of my testers what was not in the meals and no one noticed or found them lacking in flavor or texture. The consensus was, these are healthy meals that take the pressure off of dinner on busy weeknights and we would have been happy eating some of them weekly, especially when the temptation to pick up unhealthy takeout strikes.
Subscription: Meals start at $9.95 each. Two deliveries of a total of 12 meals per week costs $193 (less if you use a promo code). In most regions, deliveries will incur a flat charge of $7.95 per delivery per order. If you receive two deliveries a week, that cost will double. For national shipping, the cost can range from $9.95 to $15.95 per week based on UPS two-day shipping rates in your area.
Ease of use: Some meals are ready to eat cold and do not require heating. For most other meals, you can microwave according to package instructions.
Menu choices: There are 50+ menu options per week, with the ability to filter recipes by many categories and dietary restrictions, some of which include: Mediterranean, paleo, vegan, Whole30 and keto-friendly. You may order a maximum of 24 meals per week.
Taste: 8/10. We found ourselves looking for these meals in the fridge instead of turning to less-healthy quick meal options. That's a win.
Packaging: Most of the packaging is recyclable. You can find more specific information about recycling the packaging here.
Best keto-friendly prepared meal delivery service: Factor
Factor was our overall favorite prepared meal delivery service for keto-friendly meals because it offers a variety of flavorful dishes (think Tex-Mex, Indian, Italian and more) and options to satisfy dietary restrictions such as keto and preferences such as protein plus. If you're seeking lots of protein, but can't stand the idea of plain chicken or beef at every meal, give Factor a go.
Subscription: Meals start at $11 each. A box of 12 meals (including shipping) costs $143.88 without any promotion.
Ease of use: Most meals are microwavable and ready in under three minutes.
Menu choices: There are 35 meal choices per week, with the ability to filter recipes by the following categories and dietary restrictions: keto, vegan or vegetarian, calorie-smart, protein plus and more. Add-ons include breakfasts, snacks, smoothies and portions of fully cooked proteins. You may order a maximum of 18 meals per week.
Taste: 7/10 When you have a protein goal in mind and you get bored of the same flavors at every meal, these dishes fit the bill.
Packaging: Most of the packaging is recyclable. You can learn more about how to recycle Factor's packaging here.
Best plant-based prepared meal delivery service: Mosaic Foods
Mosaic Foods offers lots of easy options for people who eat vegan, vegetarian and plant-based meals. With almost no effort, you'll have a balanced and nutritious lunch or dinner on the table. Our vegan tester reported that he and his family enjoyed some of the meals, but not all, and found that when they heated them up in a skillet on the stovetop, the results were better.
Subscription: Meals start at $9.99 each. A box of 12 meals is roughly $129.88, including shipping. Bonus: Mosaic Foods offers a 100% Guarantee, meaning if you don't love your meals, the company will issue a full refund, no questions asked.
Ease of use: Most meals can be zapped in the microwave in under five minutes. Family Meals are oven-ready, which means no hands-on work for you, but you'll need about an hour's lead time to heat these through. To prep the smoothies you must empty the contents of the cup into the blender with your liquid of choice (e.g. oat milk or water) and blend.
Menu choices: There are 50+ menu choices per week, ranging from smoothies to family-size meals, to veggie bowls. There are also categories based on dietary preference such as wheat-free, nut-free and no sugar added. You may order a maximum of 18 items per week.
Taste: 6/10. We were happy to have a change of pace from our usual home-cooked dinners and leftovers, but weren't wowed by these.
Packaging: 100% of Mosaic's packaging is either curbside recyclable or made with post-consumer recycled fiber. You can learn more about their sustainability efforts here.
Best no-brainer prepared meal delivery service: Fresh N Lean
Fresh N Lean
Fresh N Lean is a prepared meal delivery service that delivers a box of microwavable entrees to your door that satisfies specific dietary needs. They're not what we would call gourmet meals, but rather meals that you don't need to think about. Just zap these babies in the microwave and you'll be able to stick to whatever meal plan you choose — whether it's keto, paleo, vegan, Whole30 or mediterranean.
Subscription: Prices start at $7.93 per meal. Ten paleo meals (lunches and dinners) costs $134.90 per week, including shipping.
Ease of use: Microwave meals for less than three minutes.
Menu choices: There were more than 100 meal options to try each week across categories like keto, paleo, protein+, vegan, low carb vegan, Whole30 and more. Fresh N Lean's meals are organically- sourced, never contain gluten, added sugar or GMOs and are dairy-free, except for the keto meals. The weekly menus also include breakfast options and snacks.
Taste: 5/10. We would not order these meals again, but if meal prep is not in your wheelhouse and you want a consistent source of meals that conform to your dietary restrictions, give these a try.
Packaging: Fresh N Lean meals are vacuum-sealed in BPA-free, recyclable trays. The plastic seals are also recyclable.
Most sophisticated heat-and-eat meals: CookUnity
CookUnity delivers chef-crafted meals inspired by a variety of global flavors to your home in a way that none of the other meal delivery services do. This is seriously good food. We tried omnivore, pescatarian and plant-based dishes in categories like American, Indian, Vietnamese, Italian, West African and more, and there wasn't a single dud in the bunch. I was so impressed with the high-quality shrimp and fish dishes in particular, as those are notoriously challenging to reheat without turning into cardboard.
Subscription: $10.49 per serving, and a box of 12 meals costs about $153.68, including shipping, which varies depending on your location.
Ease of use: Most meals were microwavable and ready in under four minutes.
Menu choices: There are more than 40 new dishes to choose from each week that you can filter by paleo, vegetarian, vegan, keto and Mediterranean, if you wish. In addition, you can filter meals by gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sodium, low-carb and less than 600 calories. The weekly menus also feature breakfast options, snacks, dips, dressings, desserts and pressed juices. You can order up to 16 meals per week.
Taste: 10/10. These were the most delicious meals we tried. The quality of fresh ingredients and diversity of flavors were remarkable.
Packaging: CookUnity meal trays are industrially compostable, so if you have access to an industrial compost bin or organization, you can recycle them there. If you don’t, you can clean and recycle your trays with other paper materials. Learn more about their sustainability here.
Other brands we reviewed
In addition to meal kits that you cook from start to finish, Home Chef offers "oven-ready" and "fast & fresh" meals that are semi-homemade, meaning you have to combine a few components and cook them in the oven, or in some cases, there is raw protein to be cooked along with other components. We did not enjoy these meals as much as many of the straightforward microwavable meals we tried. We found them to be lacking in flavor and not as easy to prepare as we had hoped.
We received complimentary samples of some meal delivery services and purchased others ourselves and reviewed all with the same criteria.