Meal kits can make life a little easier for busy people by saving you a trip to the grocery store. However, meal kits may be a turn-off to some people who want to be eco-friendly, as they tend to arrive at your doorstep in a lot of packaging.
There are boxes full of ice packs and insulation materials, plastic packaging to separate the food items, and containers that pre-prepped meals may be put in. If you're avoiding meal planning by ordering a lot of meals every week, these materials can quickly build up.
When it comes to being environmentally friendly and reducing climate change, there are more factors at play than just packaging. For example, some meal kit companies use local produce (which cuts down travel and carbon emissions), some make their shipment more sustainable and reusable, and others may focus on sustainable practices for getting their meal kit food.
Many meal kit services have demonstrated a commitment to being environmentally friendly and finding a way to impact the planet. Here is a review of the best eco-friendly meal kits for those people who want to take advantage of easy to cook meal kits without harming the environment.
Our Top Eco-Friendly Meal Kits
1 - Sun Basket (Editor's Choice)
Best match for anyone with special dietary needs.
Sun Basket has options for everyone. They use seasonal ingredients that are hand-selected from farms near the Pacific coast.
The Sun Basket meal plans ingredients are sustainable, free of antibiotics, grass-fed (for meats), non-GMO, and organic. They have different options to cater to different diets including vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free, and Mediterranean.
Additionally, Sun Basket gives back to local food banks as part of one of its community programs. All of the meals come pre-measured in a BPA-free, recyclable cardboard box. The insulation is recyclable via your curbside bin, and the meal kit service even gives tips for reusing your materials. Even the ice packs are compostable, which is not the case for many other companies.
2 - Hello Fresh
Best match for families looking for meal kits with fresh ingredients.
Hello Fresh is one of the largest meal kit delivery services in the United States. Their packaging is fully recyclable, and you can find detailed recycling instructions on their website.
The meal kit company is starting to use eco-packaging called northbox insulated containers for all of their deliveries. These boxes have optimal insulation so that the food remains at peak freshness levels and good temperatures.
In terms of the food, Hello Fresh uses high quality and fresh ingredients from family farms and local suppliers, which reduces the distance that the ingredients have to travel. Not all of the ingredients are organic, but they are seasonal and natural.
Hello Fresh has vegetarian options as well as Family Plans and Classic plans. With their service, you get a box of ingredients and recipes every week so that you can cook for two or four people.
Read our full Hello Fresh review to learn more.
3 - Green Chef
Best match for someone looking for a program that caters to individuals.
Green Chef believes in a commitment to staying green throughout the entire process of their meal kit preparation. Wherever possible, their meal kit packaging is reusable, compostable, or recyclable.
Every ingredient that Green Chef uses is sustainably-sourced and organic, and the meal kit delivery service makes sure to work with food manufacturers and farmers who are committed to the environment. The farm suppliers are USDA-certified GMO-free, and they go through rigorous quality standards for the humane treatment of animals, sustainable practices, and fair labor practices.
In terms of its operations, the Green Chef offsets all of its greenhouse gas emissions. They also offer diverse options for food including omnivore, gluten-free, keto, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, and organic meal plans.
4 - Blue Apron
Best match for non-picky eaters who want meal kits to try new foods.
Blue Apron is a widely popular meal kit delivery service in the US. According to their website, Blue Apron suppliers do not use hormones or antibiotics, and Blue Apron does not source GMOs. Not all of the ingredients are organic, but Blue Apron claims a commitment to sending high-quality food ingredients and supporting farmers who use sustainable practices.
There's a detailed recycling page on their website about how to recycle your packaging material for your meal kit. They've teamed up with the company How2Recycle to implement labels in hopes that they can reduce waste of their plastics. You can recycle the rigid plastics, metal cans, and cardboard boxes right at home. However, you will not be able to recycle the plastic bags they use for ice packs and other things such as their plastic bubble insulation.
Though they have some work to do in the eco-friendly area, one of their perks is that the ingredients are perfectly portioned to help you reduce food waste and promote portion control.
Check out our Blue Apron full review for more info!
5 - Daily Harvest
Best match for someone looking for a ready-to-eat, eco-friendly meal subscription.
With Daily Harvest meal kits, you get to select a number of thoughtfully-sourced snacks, drinks, and meals that you want to have delivered weekly or monthly.
Your options include smoothies, Chia bowls, soups, oats, and other clean meals built on fruits and vegetables. They have desserts and even coffee.
The meals are pre-portioned and ready for you anytime you need to eat on the go or at home.
All of the selections from this delivery company are made with plant-based ingredients, and the packaging is completely recyclable and compostable, as it is made from renewable fiber.
Daily Harvest allows you to be environmentally conscious and health-conscious at the same time. Additionally, it's super customizable and easy to prepare.
6 - Home Chef
Best match for someone looking for meals with low prep time and difficulty.
Home Chef has many options and makes it easy for families to get fresh and quick dinners on the table. They have choices for individuals who are vegetarian, calorie-conscious, or carb-conscious, and they show all of the nutrition information per serving before you order.
They also offer nut-free and soy-free meals as well as fresh smoothies. If you want, you have the option to customize your meals by swapping or doubling up on proteins. You can even find Home Chef grocery store meals at your local grocery stores.
Home Chef has a commitment to eco-friendliness and the community. The packaging for home Chef meals is fully reusable or recyclable (including the ice pack), and the website has detailed instructions on how to recycle everything. During the Covid-19 pandemic, they partnered with Feeding America to support those in need.
Read our Home Chef full review.
Plenty of companies that serve meal kits practice sustainable methods to prepare and deliver their meal kits. These methods differ but may include using recyclable packaging, sustainable sourcing, or local partners. Some of the most environmentally conscious meal kit companies include Daily Harvest, Green Chef, Sun Basket, and Hello Fresh.
HelloFresh is one of the meal delivery services that sends its customers the least amount of plastic and paper packaging. There are infographics on their website about how to recycle each element of their packaging, but as a whole, they tend to use less packaging than other popular meal kits.
In Review - Eco-Friendly Meal Kit Delivery
On average, it can be hard to find eco-friendly meal delivery services that don't use a lot of unnecessary packaging per serving. However, many companies are becoming more aware of their environmental impacts and are finding ways to reduce the percentage of garbage that goes to landfills. They also are making their ethics policies clear to consumers so that you can choose the perfect service for your purposes.
Hello Fresh reduces their CO2 emissions by making sure that their transport vehicles travel the shortest distance possible. They also focus on locally sourcing ingredients and using packaging that you can recycle. While you may have to go to the recycling place in-person, there are a lot of perks of using the company for your home cooking, including less food waste per meal.
Our #1 Recommendation