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Blue Apron, Sun Basket, Hello Fresh, Plated: I’ve Tried Them All and Here’s What I Think

January 25, 2018

I originally published this piece in February 2017, and it’s been one of my most-visited posts. Since it’s the new year and many people are trying to cook more at home, I revised the post to include new information and two meal services I’ve sampled in the last year: Home Chef and Marley’s Spoon.


I have tried many different dinner systems over the years — meal planning, once-a-month-cooking, The Fresh 20, Dream Dinners, you name it! I enjoy cooking and we eat at home nearly every night (except for maybe one weekend night). But gone are the days when I had the motivation to do extensive planning and meals.

That being said, it’s still very important to me that we eat healthy meals at home made with fresh ingredients that I prepare (for the most part). So I have given myself the gift of using boxed meal subscription services on a somewhat regular basis. I’ve tried all the big ones over the years — Blue Apron, Plated, Sun Basket, Hello Fresh, Home Chef and Marley’s Spoon. I still supplement our dinners with my own recipes, but these dinners are a nice way to have fresh ingredients sent to my door along with a recipe and a shot of motivation.

I’ve decided to share my thoughts about the meal boxes — their advantages and disadvantages — and which ones I continue to use.

Blue Apron fresh tomato linguini with Cesar salad

Before I give you my impressions of each service, let me point out a few universal things:

  • Most all of these services have an option where you can try the service for free, and then continue.
  • All the companies allow you to skip weeks without any penalty, as long as it’s done in the time frame. So if you don’t like the meal choices for a given week, you just pause that week.
  • There was a lot of criticism at one point about these services being environmentally wasteful with all the packaging. I believe all of them now offer recycling programs so you can easily donate the boxes and cooling material. But I have to admit, recycling was never an issue for me. We already recycle EVERYTHING. So all the little containers, bottles, cans, etc. went right into our blue recycle bin, along with the broken down cardboard box.

NOTE: This is NOT a sponsored post. None of these are affiliate links and I’m not getting free dinners for sharing this information.

And now, here are my thoughts on all these meal services.

Blue Apron Za’atar chicken souvlaki with oven baked fries


I have been using Blue Apron the longest and we’ve loved nearly all the meals. Even Sophie — who is the pickiest of eaters — will eat a Blue Apron dinner without (or with minimal) complaint. The ingredients are fresh and the dinners are innovative (not ideas I would typically think of), yet they are not complicated recipes. Some of my favorite recipes have been Mexican spiced beef and rice casserole, Za’atar chicken souvlaki, and fresh linguine pasta and heirloom tomato sauce.

I will say that Blue Apron has a lot of extra steps that can be cut from the cooking process. For example, you can cut your prep time considerably by using your own pre-chopped garlic and ginger. And they are big proponents of using lots of olive oil. I don’t use near the amount they suggest. They also have you use multiple bowls for prepping ingredients. I tend to eliminate some of those extra bowls by adding the chopped ingredients straight into the pots/pans when appropriate. Less dishes to clean is always good!


Plated has become our favorite. Their meals are really good! The photo above is the Greek vegetable salad, which was fresh and delicious. We’ve also had meals like turkey chili verde, miso salmon and quinoa bowls, and chipotle chicken pozole with crispy quesadillas.

The recipes have fewer steps than Blue Apron, and the prep work is considerably less. For example, the garlic is sent in pre-pealed cloves and the cheese is already shredded. I also think the amount of protein and ingredients they send are larger than Blue Apron. One of the recipes called for Parmesan cheese and I didn’t even use all that Plated sent. Whereas with Blue Apron, I sometimes supplemented things like Parm with my own stash.

I also like that Plated packages all the ingredients for each recipe in separate bags, which makes it easier to grab what you need for one dinner. Since I originally wrote this post, Plated lowered its prices and is on par with Blue Apron, which I believe, makes it a better value. If you only try one meal service, I’d highly recommend Plated.


I would describe Sun Basket as the more organic, non-GMO, “crunchy” and sustainable option. Many of their meals are paleo or gluten free (even if you don’t select that option). While this is great for a lot of people, my family likes its dairy and carbs. We don’t consume a lot of it, but we do like some cheese with dinner.

The recipes we sampled were Peruvian beef stir-fry, gingered turkey meatballs in lemongrass broth, and spicy chorizo and tomatillo chili with coconut and lime. The Peruvian beef was really good, and a hit with me and Bryan. The other two recipes had too many Thai-based and spicy foods that don’t agree with Bryan or Sophie. And at the time we tried Sun Basket, there weren’t many other non-exotic options. So unfortunately this one didn’t work for our family.

Sun Basket seems like a great option for adults, or families that want an easy way to eat organic, paleo, vegeterian or vegan options. Again, not bad, but we didn’t continue the subscription. That being said, I give Sun Basket the award for cutest packaging — I didn’t want to through the boxes away!

Sun Basket Peruvian beef


I would recommend Home Chef for someone who doesn’t wants a good dinner, but a pretty “basic” and easy one. Their dinners have fewer “exotic” ingredients with little prep/cooking time. It’s not a bad service, but I’d rather spend my money on Plated or Blue Apron where the meals are a bit more exciting.

One very odd and sometimes confusing thing is the meals are packaged as two servings; but if you order the four-serving, they send two of each pack. So I end up tons of bags of ingredients in my fridge.


Marley’s Spoon is Martha Stewart meal prep service is the latest one we tried. Honestly, I’m not that impressed. Very little ingredients for meals that didn’t have a ton of flavor. The above southwest turkey burgers were good, but the side dish was a broccoli salad that wasn’t too impressive. I also tried the fish fry and spicy tartar sauce with Brussels sprouts Caesar salad. The fish and sauce were good, but the Brussels sprouts required me to shred them all by hand and I had no time for that. So I opted to use lettuce I already had in the fridge for the salad.

We enjoyed the seared steak and crispy potatoes with Sriracha butter. But honestly, all that came in the package were flank steak, potatoes, beans, garlic, butter and Sriracha powder. I could have purchased all that myself and there isn’t anything different about that meal.

It also drove me crazy that Marley’s Spoon required me to provide my own eggs and other ingredients, which they don’t tell you about ahead of time. So if I didn’t have those items at home, too bad for our dinner.


This was my least favorite meal box services. The Hello Fresh meals I tried were bland, had very few ingredients. We tried were shrimp with lemon orzo (a recipe that I have made myself and tasted better) and steak with mango salsa and rice. While the steak was good, the portion was small and fed both me and Sophie. Thank goodness Bryan was not at home for that dinner because had I split it three ways, we would have been looking for more food to supplement dinner.

The Hello Fresh dinners could have used a bit more flavor and/or ingredients. While some of Blue Apron’s recipes are simple too; what makes them stand out are the spice blends used to add flavor. That was lacking with Hello Fresh.

I was also very turned off by the fact that Hello Fresh customer service was constantly calling me after I cancelled the service to find out what happened and persuade me to resubscribe.

Blue Apron summer corn salad

So those are my thoughts on Blue Apron, Plated, Sun Basket, Home Chef, Marley’s Spoon, and Hello Fresh. I really want to try One Potato by Weelicious because I like their emphasis on family-friendly meals. But sadly, they don’t service Indiana … yet!

It’s a nice treat to be able to use a meal subscription service once or twice a month. And I like that you can control the ingredients and count calories if you do that. If you’re at all curious, I encourage you to sign up for the free offering and see which ones you like.

Have you used any of these meal subscription services? Which is your favorite (or least favorite)? Is there another one I need to try?








43 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2017 8:54 am

    How fun that you’ve tried all of these, Leah. I’ve been seeing more ‘press’ about them and wondered how they worked/if they were good. Helpful insight on which you preferred!

    • Leah permalink*
      February 16, 2017 3:46 pm

      Thanks, Melissa. As you can tell, some are better than others. But I think they’re worth trying if you’re remotely interested.

  2. tracie permalink
    February 16, 2017 10:28 am

    Me me me for the Blue Apron 🙂

  3. February 16, 2017 1:17 pm

    Thanks for the heads up girl! Always been curious, I haven’t tried any since becoming a Sous Chef 7 yrs ago. Hope you are well!

    • Leah permalink*
      February 16, 2017 3:46 pm

      Thanks, Katherine! So great to hear from you! Hope you’re well too.

  4. February 16, 2017 3:34 pm

    This is so helpful and interesting! I always here ads for these (especially on many podcasts I like). I really appreciate hearing a real review from someone I trust. And not sponsored!

    • Leah permalink*
      February 16, 2017 3:47 pm

      Oh yes, I hear that one brand on several of my favorite podcasts! Glad you found it helpful.

  5. Denise Stalcup permalink
    March 14, 2017 9:42 pm

    I would like to try.

  6. Jessica permalink
    April 13, 2017 12:12 pm

    I’m interested in trying Blue Apron out! ?

    • Leah permalink*
      April 13, 2017 12:23 pm

      I just submitted your name. Look for an email from Blue Apron. Thanks for reading!

  7. Josh permalink
    April 20, 2017 10:34 pm

    I’d love to try Blue Apron for free.

  8. Cailyne G permalink
    May 17, 2017 9:21 am

    Do you still have free trials for blue apron left?? I’d love to try it!

    • Leah permalink*
      May 18, 2017 12:27 pm

      I just submitted your email address for a free meal. Hope you enjoy it!

  9. Kerim Hanif permalink
    May 25, 2017 1:46 am

    Would like to try blue apron as well please

  10. Don Birkbeck permalink
    June 1, 2017 6:51 pm

    Me me me for blue apron to try please

  11. Stephanie R. permalink
    June 5, 2017 2:24 am

    Hello, I came across your site while researching reviews for all the different meal subscription services. It’s really hard to pick amongst all the options, but I think I’ve narrowed it down to Blue Apron or Sun Basket. Any recommendations? It’s just me and my husband, and he’s kind of a picky eater. I’d also love to try Blue Apron if you have any free trials left 🙂

  12. Joe permalink
    June 8, 2017 9:17 pm

    Great article. It explained everything I wanted to know about these 4 options. Am I too late for a free blue apron coupon? I have a sun basket gift card but would rather try blue apron first. Thanks again for taking the time to explain in detail the differences in each option.

  13. Rita Schoch permalink
    June 14, 2017 7:08 pm

    Hi Leah,
    Thanks for the reviews. I’d like to have one of your Blue Apron coupons if they are still available, and try SunBasket on my own. I’ll let you know my thoughts after I try it out.

  14. Carole permalink
    June 17, 2017 10:28 am

    Thank you for your research. I would love to try Blue Apron if still possible.

  15. Brett permalink
    July 2, 2017 10:25 pm

    Love how comprehensive this all is; thanks! Definitely would love a free trial if you have any available still, to Blue Apron or any of the others. Or all of them! ALL OF THEM MWAHAHAHA

  16. John permalink
    July 5, 2017 2:35 pm

    Just a note – none of these services, from my experience, allow you to try for free as you mentioned. You can get a few free meals, but since you need to order usually a batch of 3 for your first order, you still pay to get that first delivery. So the first week is cheaper, but not free, unfortunately.

  17. Sue Logsdon permalink
    July 17, 2017 9:46 am

    I would like to try a free meal with blue plated. Thank you.

  18. wendy in NYC permalink
    July 23, 2017 4:26 pm

    honestly, We did BLue Apron for a several months.. but I grew tired of the fact that pretty much EVERY meal has oil and saute .. and then there were weeks upon weeks of Kale in everything! They make a deal w a local farmer I guess and them use it relentlessly.. I even called and asked them .. ever try String beans? Broccoli? I got tired of the redundancy and all that OIL. MY biggest complaint is that they say you can choose from several options.. but you really cannot. the minute you choose a meal w the protein you want, suddenly you can no longer choose any other w a good meat/fish – they force you to choose something uber cheap like a rice or pasta dish.. that I didn’t want at all. So thats an issue for me. Im supposed to be allowed to choose my combinations, but they force you to edit – prob so as to save themselves $$. I want to try one of the others.. any idea which one is most versatile? Any seem less fatty – less oil used all the time?

  19. Cal kapp permalink
    July 31, 2017 12:48 pm

    We would like to try blue apron, thanks. Nice site, attractive and easy to read.

  20. Bobbie permalink
    August 11, 2017 12:12 pm

    Thank you for your excellent comments. Yes, I’d love to try a Blue Apron!

  21. Sheree Clapp permalink
    August 14, 2017 3:07 pm

    I would like to try Blue Apron if you have any left. Thank you for your review on Sun Basket…I am going to steer clear of that one. I use hello fresh and home chef and have had good results with both. Thanks also for mentioning One Potato..I am going to see if they deliver to my area. Take care.

  22. Sarah Montheard permalink
    August 26, 2017 4:33 pm

    Thank you for this! I am currently using hello fresh and about to try sun basket… blue apron will be next!

  23. Rebecca V permalink
    September 5, 2017 10:56 pm

    We would love to try a few Blue Aprin meals if you have any freebies left. Thanks for the great info on the different meal delivery services. I have teenagers and I think it’s eill be a nice way to get them in the kitchen with me. -Rebecca

  24. Caroline Cruz permalink
    November 14, 2017 1:20 pm

    Would like to try Blue Apron please. Thank you for concise review, just stopped Hello Fresh because protein portion too small and meals not exotic enough.

  25. Lynne Doucette permalink
    December 11, 2017 7:31 pm

    I have tried Plated and Blue Apron. My favorite is Plated, but the herbs and many of the leafy green vegetables got mushy from the ice packs. Plated had more choices and appeals to my foodie side. Blue Apron is simpler. The meals are less complicated which fits my life better. I have thought the Blue Apron meals are good but there were many Plated Meals that we’re great.

  26. Chris Van Hemelrijck permalink
    December 12, 2017 9:41 am

    Thanks Melissa…I have tried Sun Basket and agree with your assessment.
    I am interested in Blue Apron since I don’t have specific dietary restrictions and their price point seems better.
    Please send me a Blue Apron meals sample if you have one.

  27. Mary Vantine permalink
    December 27, 2017 2:04 pm

    I would love to try Blue Apron if you have any more coupons. Thank you!

  28. Ula Carter permalink
    December 29, 2017 11:25 am

    Would love to try blue Apron… Thanks for the review

  29. Brett Pugmire permalink
    December 30, 2017 1:47 pm

    Sounds great! Thanks for posting. I’ve been going back and forth between Blue Apron and Sun Basket and would love to try BA.

  30. January 2, 2018 12:31 am

    Have also tried Martha Stewart Marley Meal and believe Blue Apron to be superior in menu layout, instruction and sustainable ingredients/packaging. Send my friend a BA please at we are starting a new food blog called EPIC Taste this could be a great topic and would love to link to your blog. Happy New Year~

  31. Zodie Medley permalink
    January 7, 2018 12:51 am

    Thanks for writing this review. Do you have any more free dinner coupons. Thanks!

  32. A.J. Ragsdale permalink
    January 11, 2018 2:14 am

    I have never tried any of these companies and I have researched several times and then decided I had no idea which to choose, so if you have any I could try I would appreciate it and we have no kids, only a 32yr old daughter. I would benefit from the paleo, organic(or ish) and I will keep looking for comparisons. Thank you for you reviews so I can see which to skip!!

  33. Terri-Lee Gleason permalink
    January 19, 2018 3:32 pm

    Dear Leah: Thank you for your feedback on this. I’ve been researching all of these and so far love Sun Basket. I am a single parent so it alleviates the need to shop, pick ingredients etc. while dragging my child around. I also love the variety of healthy choices and the organic non-gmo component. I would love to try blue apron, my email is

    This was truly helpful and confirmed my choice.

  34. Laraine Chaberski permalink
    March 13, 2018 11:07 am

    I would like to try Sunbasket for free. I have celiac so I need gluten free. I am currently using Plated but the have a limited selection and it is a bit tricky to swap a meal.

  35. April 8, 2018 11:19 pm

    I’ve been thinking about trying one of these for a long time, and out of the blue, the husband said “why don’t we try one of those boxed meals?” I went back to this post, which I read a couple of months ago, and based on your recommendation, we’re going to try Plated first. So thank you for doing the “research” on this and your recommendations. I’ll let you know what we think after a few weeks. Take care, and Happy Spring! – Sharon

  36. Tracy L Middleton permalink
    March 3, 2019 4:53 pm

    Hi Leah!

    I too have tried all of the above mentioned EXCEPT Sun Basket for the same reasons you mentioned – I love my cheese and Marley’s Spoon because when reviewing the menus, they were uninspiring. I am a true foodie and love spices, unique vegetables but more importantly, a true dinner – not a bowl of mixed up stuff being called dinner.

    I originally started with Blue Apron and got tired of the one-pot meals so decided to give Hello Fresh a try. It was OK but then they too started stirring towards the one pot meals. I moved on to Plated which really was a breath of fresh air – wonderful menus, great spices, unique vegetables I have steered away from in my past but was compelled to try and loved but then the jacked up their prices on the plans (quite a bit in my opinion) which drove me away from that company. I then took to Home Chef and have been with them ever since. I don’t agree with your opinion on their meals but I do agree with your assessment of Plated being the favorite.

    I still would be with Plated if they didn’t price me out of what I thought was a reasonable cost. What used to cost $60/month is now $72/month – that’s a big cost difference. Home Chef has not jacked up their cost and I am still paying <$60/month with them AND get a true dinner – although they do offer one-pot meals there are many other selections that have a main protein with one or two sides.


  37. Susan permalink
    December 9, 2019 2:44 pm

    I tried Sun-basket and loved their meal options. The problem with Sun-basket is in almost every delivery, I had something spoiled in my delivery. I had moldy green beans, rotted shallots, and spoiled tomatoes. The company issued some compensation but I was tired of having something wrong with my delivery. They really need to do something about their quality control.

    I am now using Hello Fresh. Their quality and packaging seems to be better but their meal choices are somewhat limited. If you have to watch your carbs, sugars or calories, this may not be for you.

    I wish Sunbasket would get their act together

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