Some days I barely have time to eat, let alone cook a decent meal. Rather than eat lo mein every night, I decided to try out meal kits. Meal kits send you everything you need to make dinners without the shopping or prep time, so I figured it was a win-win-win: I could cook dinner in less time than it would take for the delivery guy to show up, save money, and save calories by eating fresher food.
But, I couldn't decide between ordering from HelloFresh or Marley Spoon. To an amateur eye, they looked about the same: they're about equally priced and both feature delicious-looking recipes that they claim are easy to make. I decided to really dig in, and compared hundreds of reviews on Trustpilot (a third party site, so there's no bias) to get an idea of what the meal kits were really like.
It turns out there is a clear winner (spoiler alert: it's HelloFresh), but here's how the two compared.
Both meal kits boast fresh, seasonal, produce for their recipes, and they deliver on those promises. However, HelloFresh gives you pre-portioned herbs and spices to make your own sauces, while Marley Spoon may just give you the sauce, pre-packaged. That just didn't feel like a cooking experience to me.
"Very disappointed in my first Marley Spoon box! I thought I was getting fresh ingredients that I can combine and create the meal myself, [but] instead of giving me the ingredients to make chilli jam they just sent me a premade tin!! If I wanted to buy canned premade sauces I would just go to the supermarket instead of paying premium for your service." - Laura D.
They both guarantee fast and easy meals, but HelloFresh beat out Marley Spoon for speed and simplicity. For each HelloFresh meal, the recipe specifies an exact time, like 25 or 35 minutes. Marley Spoon's recipes give a range, like "30-40 minutes."
People also said that the recipe cards from HelloFresh were easier to follow. Marley Spoon breaks down each recipe into fewer steps, which means they might leave some things out that novice cooks don't know.
"[HelloFresh's] recipes are so easy to follow and the sequence of steps that ensures everything is ready at the same time is great." - Chantelle
Variety & Taste
If you choose either kit, you'll find rotating recipes that sample cuisines like pasta dishes with Italian sauce recipes, Korean bibimbap, and Mexican fish tacos, in addition to more classic recipes, like rosemary chicken or smoky steak. Chef-curated meals mean they're just as authentic as take-out, but less salty, and less expensive. Overall, both kits had tons of reviews raving about the delicious meals.
With both meal kits, you can specify a date and time for your box to arrive, but I saw more complaints online about Marley Spoon not being delivered on time, or at all.
"The food [with Marley Spoon] is great... when it arrives. Every few weeks the delivery is made to the wrong address and we have to go out and buy groceries to be able to make meals ourselves." - David
The Overall Winner: HelloFresh!
Both companies had fast, delicious meals and occasional delivery hiccups, but HelloFresh had more loyal reviewers singing its praises. HelloFresh has a more streamlined recipe plan with clearer instructions that really take into account all the moving pieces of the meal.
I ended up ordering HelloFresh after doing the research, and am loving it. My plan is just $7.99 per meal, and I can actually cook dinner in just 30 minutes or less, which is so important for me as a busy editor. They're a reliable company dominating the market for a reason, and I never regret making a homemade roasted pork from HelloFresh instead of getting more takeout from the greasy corner diner.
Update: The team at HelloFresh are extending a special offer to our readers! Follow this link to get your first 3 meals free!