Image by Ivan Gener / Stocksy
July 5, 2022
If the thought of prepared meals only conjures image of the frozen, sodium-heavy concoctions of the past, think again. There are now prepared-meal delivery services capable of providing delicious grub for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. What’s more, these revolutionary services can cater to a host of eating plans, such as keto, plant-based, or even Mediterranean.
Available at a variety of price points, most prepared meal plans can be customized on a weekly basis, so you opt in on busy weeks and skip those when you want to spend more time in the kitchen. Whether you’re hoping to try out a low-FODMAP diet for a short amount of time, or even if you’re set on never cooking again—these prepared-meal options have you covered.
The types of prepared-meal delivery services.
Prepared-meal delivery services are similar to the food subscription services that have become so popular in the past few years, but instead of sending pre-measured ingredients that you prepare and cook yourself, they come plated and ready to be heated up. There are lots of options to choose from that prioritize different types of diets and account for dietary restrictions and food allergies.
How we picked:
Tasty recipes and varied seasonal ingredients are the keys to keeping a diet from becoming boring. We looked at menus and food sourcing to determine the best options.
From preferences to food allergies, we filtered through different companies to find the ones that offered the largest variety.
We prioritized companies that are conscious of their environmental impact and are constantly working toward more sustainable practices.
Food budgets are wide-ranging, and we tried to make sure that was reflected in our picks—so everyone can access the convenience of prepared meals.
mbg’s pick for the best prepared-meal delivery services of 2022:
- Good variety
- Easy to customize
- No add-ons
- Limited organic ingredients
- Not all packaging is recyclable
Dietary considerations: Plant-based
In addition to being incredibly budget-friendly, Freshly uses innovative technology to keep food fresh during shipping and offers a huge range of recipes. The brand’s food philosophy is “less sugar, less processed food, and more nutrients.” The heat-and-eat meals offer low-lift options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with plans large enough to cover up to a dozen meals per week. Along with letting your select both plant-forward and high-protein plans, Freshly also allows you to easily scan for gluten, as well as filter out dairy-free or low-carb meals.
-White bean turkey chili bowl
-Chicken tikka masala
Sustainability & Quality: They use modified atmosphere packaging—which lowers the amount of oxygen in the box, therefore slowing the growth of aerobic organisms—to keep the food fresh in a sustainable way. They also use recycled denim for insulation, as well as repurposed gel packs.
Price: From $9 per serving
- Menu changes weekly
- Meal variety
- Minimal organic ingredients
- Limited specialized menus
The most budget-friendly option on our list, Home Chef has been around since the early days of meal kit popularity—which means they’ve had time to perfect both recipes and packaging. While Home Chef is mostly recognized for its meal kits, the brand also offers two types of prepared meals: oven-ready or microwaveable fast and fresh entrées.
Customize your order based on personal preferences, such as protein preferences or allergens. You can also select options that adhere to popular diets, like keto and paleo. Either way, you’ll get a nutrient-packed (and delicious) meal in less than 15 minutes.
-Pulled pork and fiesta rice bowl
-Shrimp penne in tomato cream sauce
Sustainability & Quality: They use recyclable plastics and materials in their boxes. When sourcing ingredients, the brand opts for organic whenever possible.
- No preservatives
- Entirely gluten-free
- Insulated box liner is compostable
- Fully organic
Dietary considerations: Gluten-free, Nut-free, Soy-free, Refined sugar-free
Not only is every single ingredient from Sprinly organic, but the brand also cuts refined sugars, artificial preservatives, and gluten from its recipes. Every meal is delivered fresh with an estimated cook time of just 3 minutes in the microwave.
While these meals are on the pricier side, every entrée is unique and boasts a biodiversity of ingredients—and it helps that they’re incredibly filling. Plus, it’s super easy to find recipes that ditch popular allergens, like nuts and soy, from the entirely gluten-free kitchen.
-Burmese lemongrass noodles with jade pearl ramen
-Mac and “cheese” with BBQ jackfruit
Sustainability & Quality: Along with sourcing purely organic ingredients, Sprinly pushes their sustainability efforts by donating all excess produce to those in need. Bonus: The insulated bag inside the boxes is biodegradable and filled with a compostable inner component.
Price: From $17
- Sourced from Hudson Valley
- Donate excess to New Yorkers in need
- More affordable
- Large variety
- Shipping fee on orders under $100
- Few low-carb options
Dietary considerations: Dairy-free, Plant-based, High protein, Nut-free, Soy-free, Egg-free
You won’t have to worry about a plate of beige foods staring back at you: Mosaic always includes at least four veggies in their recipes—whether it’s veggie bowls, soups, oatmeal, or family-sized bakes. The brand’s ultimate goal? To make every dish as satisfying and nutritious as the last, with generous portions and hearty ingredients.
The abundance of items available may make it hard to choose what to try first—but Mosaic has you covered. It offers a program where you can choose recipes created by well-known and award-winning chefs.
Sustainability & Quality: In addition to donating all excess product to City Harvest, which helps New Yorkers in need, this brand uses dry ice to keep their boxes cold so that you don’t have to dispose of wasteful gel packs. Trays are made of BPA-free plastic, and cups are made of recycled paper and recycled fibers (the latter cannot be recycled).
- No shipping fee
- Meal kit options
- Order changes can be made on app
- No delivery fee
- Pricier per serving
- No customization
Dietary considerations: Plant-based, Vegetarian
Founded in 2014, Purple Carrot is one of the most well-known plant-based meal-delivery companies. Similar to other delivery services, the company launched with meal kits before expanding into prepared options due to customer demand. Now its plant-forward meals offer weeknight options that can be ready in the microwave in just 2 minutes.
Overall, you can expect plenty of recipe variation with new menus dropped weekly. Just keep in mind that each recipe is single-serve, so you’ll need to make a larger order for families.
-Creamy tahini noodles with crispy shiitakes and quick pickles
-Spicy mango tempeh with toasted almond couscous and lemon arugula
Sustainability & Quality: Purple Carrot is passionate about eliminating food waste and works with The Farmlink Project to give excess farm produce to communities in need. It also sources primarily organic and non-GMO options; however, since they include unique ingredients, some of the options may not be organic. Everything in boxes is also completely recyclable.
Price: From $13 per item
- All-natural ingredients
- More than 50 options
- Great for dietary restrictions & allergies
- Short shelf life
- Lots of packaging
Dietary considerations: Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Nut-free, Soy-free, Egg-free, Vegan, Pescatarian, Shellfish-free, Fish-free
If you’ve ever tried a low-FODMAP diet, which removes short-chain carbs that are hard to digest, you know that it can get complicated quickly. This service makes it super simple and incredibly delicious; Epicured focuses on gluten-free diets with options for a range of allergies and other dietary restrictions, such as vegetarian, vegan, or pescatarian.
Not only are the recipes created with the help of Michelin-star chefs—so they pack as much flavor and substance into each meal as possible—but they’re dietitian-approved brand and great for those living with IBS, Crohn’s, colitis, celiac, and non-celiac gluten sensitivities.
-Hearty Colorado lamb ragu pasta
-Fish tacos with red cabbage slaw
Sustainability & Quality: While Epicured aims to always source organic, the brand strictly adheres to the Dirty Dozen rule. Otherwise, you can expect ingredients to be local with a strict emphasis on proteins free of hormones, antibiotics, and preservatives. While there’s an excess of packaging, it’s all fully recyclable, reusable, and even dishwasher-safe.
Price: From $15 per item
- 100+ menu items
- Fresh ingredients
- Snacks available
- Cups not curbside recyclable
- No customization
- No meal plans
- On the pricier side
Dietary considerations: Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Plant-based, Low-calorie, High protein
Smoothie lovers, rejoice! Daily Harvest offers up an abundance of absolutely delectable smoothie recipes that are packed with fresh fruits and veggies, so you can check off your micronutrient intake for the day. Of course, smoothies aren’t the only items on the lineup. The brand also offer delicious harvest bowls, harvest bakes, flatbreads, soups, and even ice creams.
Each box can contain 9, 14, or 24 items with tiered discounts based on the size of your box. (The more items you purchase, the bigger the discount.) We love that the vegetarian servings are substantial, filling, and convenient to prep—check out our full review.
-Lentil and tomato bolognese harvest bowl
-Chickpea and coconut curry harvest bake
Sustainability & Quality: Not only is the food meticulously sourced, but the brand prioritizes farmers and aims to build a regenerative food system. All of the food is also grown from crops that don’t use synthetic chemicals or pesticides. Plus, the brand also works with farmers to help them transition their land to organic so they can increase the biodiversity of crops.
- 100+ recipes weekly
- Menu changes weekly
- Meals can be customized for food allergens
- Free shipping
- No customization
- Excess packaging
- Limited options
Dietary considerations: Low-carb, Plant-based, Vegetarian, Low-calorie, High protein, Vegan, Paleo, Whole30, Bulk, Mediterranean
Fresh N’ Lean offers up enough meal plans and recipes for you to choose something new with every order. Plans are available for people on high-protein diets, keto, paleo, Whole30, Mediterranean, and so many more. Don’t worry, they offer multiple vegan and vegetarian options as well—including a vegan low-carb service.
The microwavable meals take just 3 minutes to heat up, so you’ll have a truly nutritious meal at your fingertips in no time. Each plan allows you to choose the number of meals for each week with enough selection to pick up to three meals per day.
-BBQ pulled chicken with potato salad and rice
-Moroccan mint grass-fed steak with spiced cauliflower and brown rice
Sustainability & Quality: While the brand does use a considerable amount of plastic in the packaging, it’s BPA-free and recyclable. They also use gel packs that you can easily repurpose.
Price: From $11 per serving
- Developed with dietitians
- Not allergen-friendly
- Plan can’t be customized for allergens/preferences
Dietary considerations: Vegetarian, Vegan, Keto
A great option for people who want to opt in for a few meals per week, Factor offers healthy, low-carb options customized to keto, vegan, or vegetarian diets. Each fresh entrée ships in compact plastic containers that could be stored for up to seven days in your fridge. Best of all, you can always put excess in the freezer, though the brand encourages customers to prioritize eating them fresh.
We love that recipes never include refined sugars, antibiotics, or GMOs. New chef-curated plans also launch weekly with a handful of brand-new items that heat in less than 3 minutes.
-Poblano bowl with roasted broccoli “rice” and scallion sour cream
-Chicken and mushroom marsala with garlic mashed cauliflower and haricot verts
Sustainability & Quality: The BPA-free plastic packaging used for every entrée is recyclable—and always ships with reusable, nontoxic gel packs to keep the food cold. Plus, there’s a zero-tolerance policy for animal welfare, so all meat is humanely raised.
Price: From $11 per serving
Opting for prepared-meal plans can not only maximize the biodiversity of your diet, but it can also eliminate the guesswork for those trying to adhere to stricter meal plans. Whether you’re looking for the best keto meal plan options or simply hoping to make it easier to get three square meals per day, these pre-prepped options have you covered.