Certified holistic nutrition consultant
Certified holistic nutrition consultant
Lindsay Boyers is a nutrition consultant specializing in elimination diets, gut health, and food sensitivities. Lindsay earned a degree in food & nutrition from Framingham State University, and she holds a Certificate in Holistic Nutrition Consulting from the American College of Healthcare Sciences.
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July 12, 2022
Swapping hours of meal prep for a weekly delivery service is convenient, but it can also come with a hefty price tag. While we fully support paying more for quality ingredients (especially organic ones), we know it’s also important to get the most bang for you buck. Luckily, there are plenty of cheap meal delivery services that offer healthy, wholesome meals without costing a fortune.
First things first, it’s important to know how much a meal delivery service can cost. Some brands charge up to $15 per serving, especially when catering to specific diets such as keto or Whole30. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find super affordable options like EveryPlate. These budget picks cost just $5 per serving, but they often sacrifice on organic ingredients, customization, and variety to keep prices down.
Our favorite picks fall right in the middle; they charge less than $10 per serving but still prioritize organic or locally sourced ingredients, as well as customization to suit each individual’s dietary needs.
How much do meal delivery services cost?
The price of a meal delivery service varies depending on the quality of ingredients used and the quantity of meals ordered. The price per serving of the cheap meal delivery services on this list range from $6.99 to $9.43 to start. Some prepared meal delivery services can go up to $17 per serving, while organic meal delivery services range from about $8 to $12 per serving. Pro tip: Always keep an eye on the shipping fee to ensure your order doesn’t cost more than expected.
Which meal kit service is cheapest?
With meals starting under $8, HelloFresh is one of the cheapest meal kit services that still prioritizes high-quality, and often locally sourced, ingredients. If you’re looking for prepared meals instead, Fresh n’ Lean’s meals also start at less than $8 per serving and you can also opt for bulk ingredients to help with meal prep.
How we picked:
Budget was one of the most important considerations; all options on this list start at less than $10 per serving.
Cheap doesn’t have to mean low-quality; we chose options that prioritize organic and/or locally sourced ingredients.
We included companies that offer rotating menus with enough recipe variation to keep your palate interested (and stomach satiated).
Finding food that fits into your lifestyle is important, so we selected options that cater to various dietary preferences and needs.
mbg’s picks for the best cheap meal delivery service of 2022:
- Caters to many dietary needs
- Not organic
- Limited bulk options
# of Meals:: 4 to 12 per week
Shipping fee: $11.99
Price: From $8.99 per serving
Dietary considerations: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Peanut-free, Plant-based, Low-calorie, Low-carb
Pre-made meals tend to be more expensive than meal kits, but Freshly finds a way to balance quality with budget. This cheap pre-made meal delivery service offers flexible plans that allow you to order between four and 12 meals per week. The price drops the more you commit; meals on the 12 meal-per-week plan start at just $8.99 per serving.
You can choose from three main meal plans: plant-based, the Signature Collection, or the more health-conscious FreshlyFit. Additional filters let you search recipes for other dietary restrictions, such as gluten-free, dairy-free, or low-calorie. If you’re not a fan of the entrées offered, you can also opt into bulk proteins and sides to create your own meal plan (and it’s actually slightly cheaper than the other picks). You’ll never meal prep the same!
–Bistro French onion chicken
-Middle eastern falafel
Sustainability & Quality: While Freshly doesn’t use organic ingredients, the company makes all meals without processed sugars and artificial ingredients. Plus, all of Freshly’s boxes, plastic meal containers, and cardboard sleeves are recyclable.
- Locally sourced ingredients
- Free shipping on large orders
- Menu is limited
- Family-style meals only serve 4
# of Meals:: 6 to 8 items per box
Shipping fee: $10
Price: From $9.43 per serving
Dietary considerations: Gluten-free, Vegan, Vegetarian
If you’re looking to stock up your freezer on a budget, Mosaic Foods will help you get the job done. All chef-crafted meals are made fresh with locally sourced ingredients and then quickly frozen to preserve freshness (and nutrition) while also reducing food waste.
You can choose from individual entrées or family-style meals, which serve four people. Our favorite fact? The plant-based compact includes at least four servings of vegetables in every item.
-Yellow dal curry
-Chipotle mango burrito bowl
Sustainability & Quality: Mosaic Foods never uses preservatives or artificial sweeteners and always sources ingredients from local farms and distributors. In addition to reducing food waste by offering frozen meals, the company uses recycled and recyclable packaging materials. For every box, Mosaic Foods will also donate two pounds of food to local (New York) non-profits to help people in need.
Sign-Up Promo: Get $15 off with code FIRSTBOX (automatically applies at checkout)
- Uses seasonal, local produce
- Menus change regularly
- Can’t tailor meals to specific allergens
- Can’t see weekly recipes for plans until you order
# of Meals:: 2 to 6 per week
Shipping fee: $9.99
Price: From $7.99 per serving
Dietary considerations: Low-calorie, Vegetarian, Pescatarian
Not only is HelloFresh of the major players in the meal delivery scene, it’s also one of the most affordable. In total, the brand offers six meal plans including the Fit & Wholesome option, which is the best match for those on a weight loss journey. The plan offers calorie-balanced meals made with clean ingredients and no added sugars or preservatives—but unlike that boring meal prep you’ve been following, new recipes arrive weekly.
No matter which plan you choose, you can upgrade your order with additional sides and proteins every week to increase the amount of food in your order. If you’re feeding others on a different dietary plan, you can easily add on these items to accommodate. Each recipe can serve two or four people with up to six meals per box.
–Roasted veggie kale salad
-Hoisin honey shrimp or chicken
Sustainability & Quality: HelloFresh uses some organic ingredients, but mostly prioritizes local and seasonal produce when it’s at peak freshness. All packaging, with the exception of the winter liners, is recyclable.
Sign-Up Promo: Earn up to $120 off by spinning the promo wheel onsite
- Organic ingredients
- High quality proteins
- Breakfast available
- Limited side options
- No pre-made desserts
# of Meals:: 5 to 12 per week
Shipping fee: Free
Price: From $7.83 per serving
Dietary considerations: Low-carb, Vegan, Paleo, Keto, Whole30, Mediterranean
Meal prepping is a lot of work. You have to figure out the recipe lineup, grocery shop, cook in bulk, and divide up your servings appropriately. Our solution? The Fresh n’ Lean Bulk menu, which allows you to skip all those steps while sticking to a strict budget.
The weekly service starts at $85 per box with an à la carte menu featuring various bulk proteins and affordable sides. Despite the price, you’ll still find quality proteins like steak, salmon, and Beyond Meat patties on the menu, along with a variety of fresh veggies sold in 4-cup packages. Other options include oatmeal, quinoa, sweet potato, and gluten-free muffins to get the full rotation of macronutrients in every meal.
If you like Fresh n’ Lean’s menu but don’t want the bulk option, there are also a variety of other plans that include keto, paleo, and Whole30-approved meals. For these plans, new chef-created menus drop weekly, giving you 100+ options to choose from.
-Cooked sweet potatoes
Sustainability & Quality: Fresh n’ Lean uses organic produce, grass-fed beef, and premium proteins in its Bulk plan. Other plans also utilize high-quality ingredients and many offer seasonal menus that contribute to sustainability. The plastic trays and films used for the meals are recyclable, as are the cardboard boxes. The only thing you can’t recycle (but you can reuse) are the gel packs.
- Mostly organic
- Arrives frozen with long shelf life
- Menu doesn’t change regularly
- Some items are pricier
Meal per week: 6 to 8 items per box
Shipping fee: Free
Price: From $6.79 per serving
Dietary considerations: Gluten-free, Low-calorie, Low-carb, Vegan, Paleo, Keto, Low-sodium, High-protein
Daily Harvest started with pre-measured smoothie cups and has since morphed into a full plant-based meal delivery service with more than 100 items. The company offers cold fare—like smoothies, oat bowls, and chia bowls—as well as heat-and-eat options like flatbreads, soups, and harvest bakes. While the prices may seem high initially, it’s important to remember every recipe is packed with an array of fruits and veggies, including antioxidant-rich superfoods. And unlike that jar of cacao powder that’s been on the shelf for last two years, these frozen treats will actually be consumed.
When signing up for Daily Harvest, you simply choose a box size (small, medium, or large) and then fill with your favorite items. The ability to customize each box makes it way easier to stick to your weekly food budget and eliminate less cost-effective items, like the oatmeal.
Once your box is full, you can set a delivery cadence of weekly or monthly with the ability to skip or cancel any time—the brand even sends a reminder before your order ships every Sunday.
–Red cabbage + buckwheat donburi harvest bake
-Sweet potato and miso soup
Sustainability & Quality: Most of Daily Harvest’s ingredients are organic with am emphasis on always avoiding convention ingredients on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list. It also works with local farmers and those transitioning to organic farming practices. All packaging is recyclable and compostable with the exception of the cup lids, which can only be recycled in certain places. Plus, everything arrives frozen, so it can be stored for several months a.k.a. a major step toward eliminating food waste.
Sign-Up Promo: Up to $35 off your first box with code WELCOME2022
Meal per week: 14 to 28
Shipping fee: $14.99
Price: From $7.99 per serving
Dietary considerations: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Vegetarian, Nut-free, Pork-free
Pot pie is likely the last thing that comes to mind when someone mentions the keto diet, yet 518 Kitchen has managed to transform the American classic into low-carb meal that costs less than $8 per serving—and that’s not the only recipe they’ve upgraded.
The delivery service offers a robust selection of single-serve, pre-made entrées with varying levels of net carbs. You can choose from keto, keto-friendly, or low-carb meal plans, which offer anywhere from 5% to 25% calories from carbs.
Finding the right 518 Kitchen plan all comes down to your personal needs; you can opt into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks or trim down the fat by selecting protein and side options only. The regular meal delivery, cleverly called the Week-o-Keto Bundle, can be customized for delivery every one, two, three, or four weeks, but you can’t change the quantity of meals: You’ll get 28 total, including baked items and desserts. However, you can opt for a smaller 14-meal plan with a sides bundle or even smaller sampler boxes.
–Keto chicken pot pie
-Cauliflower à la vodka
Sustainability & Quality: While 518 Kitchen doesn’t use organic ingredients, all beef is grass-fed, pork is pasture-raised, seafood is wild caught (or responsibly sourced), chicken is antibiotic-free, and eggs are cage-free. The plastic trays, cardboard, and cooler liner that come with your boxes are all recyclable, but the plastic cover used for pre-made meals has to go in the trash.
Sign-Up Promo: Get $100 off your first five boxes ($20 off each box) with code SAVE10
Convenience and budget don’t always go hand in hand—but that’s not the case with the best cheap meal delivery services. They cost around $7 to $10 per serving with a range of options, including pre-made meals, keto-friendly services, and plant-based options from brands like Freshly, Fresh n’ Lean, and Mosaic Foods.