Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen literally dozens of meal kit delivery services pop up across the US. They may all seem the same to a regular person who needs the meal delivered on time, similar to a courier service. However, Blue Apron and HelloFresh are two of the biggest names in the industry.
Almost everyone I know has used either one of these brands, and many have used both. However, if you choose one of the two, which one should it be? Well, we’ve wanted to answer that question for a while, and with our experience using both services, I think we are the most experienced to do it.A good part of this article is based on our personal experience with both services so your mileage may vary. Read on as Meal Matchmaker takes you through just about everything you will want to know about these meal kit delivery services. That way, you will be in a better position to choose the right one for yourself.
Easy to Use
Now, if you are in the market for a meal delivery service, you should sign up with one that is easy to use. That’s because if the system is convoluted, you are probably better off going to the supermarket, buying the ingredients and cooking it yourself.
The good thing about both HelloFresh and Blue Apron is that they are convenient, saving you from having to plan everything yourself or head over to the supermarket to buy ingredients. You can think of it as a middle ground between cooking everything from scratch and ordering takeout from your local fast-food restaurant.
Regardless of how you approach it, signing up for both of these competitors is pretty straightforward. Also, they both deliver meals across continental US states, except for Alaska and Hawaii. The services also allow users or customers to choose delivery days based on their zip codes. This means that delivery isn’t restricted to a time that may be inconvenient for you.
Signing up for Blue Apron
Signing up for Blue Apron requires that you do it with an email address and choose a password. After you signup, the next step is selecting a plan. Ideally, you will want to choose a plan that’s best suited to your weekly needs.
The thing I like about Blue Apron is that you have the choice of choosing meals that are for either two or four people. In addition, subscribers can choose from two or three recipes all the way up to four per week.
I will dive into what the meals involve. Preferences come with three choices, Wellness, Signature and Vegetarian. However, most people will find Signature the best choice since it is a well-rounded offering, while Wellness focuses on those who want to cut carbs from their diet and Vegetarian, as the term suggests, is mainly a meat-free offering.
Once you have chosen the type of meals you want to receive, you enter payment details and delivery information, after which you are ready to start adding meals. I also like the fact that Blue Apron lays out what you can expect in terms of payment every week. This means you can allocate a weekly budget for your food.
Signing up for HelloFresh
The signup process for HelloFresh is very similar. All you need is to click on the “join” button, and you then have the option to choose to sign up to feed either two or four people. Here too, you can choose how many recipes you want per week.
The difference is that HelloFresh, allows you to choose up to six recipes a week. However, there are a few additional preferences to help you get started with recommendations that suit your needs. This approach may make it easier for people new to this type of service to choose what suits their needs the best - in my opinion, it’s definitely a big advantage.
You can choose their Meat & Veggies for pretty much everyone. Then there is also the veggie option, fish loves, pescatarian option, family-friendly, and wholesome - this option is for everyone who wants to remain healthy without thinking too much about it. The other good thing about HelloFresh is that it offers more guidance than Blue Apron. The quick and easy setup when it comes to choosing the right set of meals means you can get up and started sooner rather than later without guessing what you will get.
Regardless of your chosen service, both Blue Apron and HelloFresh pack their food very carefully. I found that HelloFresh uses fresh ingredients packed in neat brown paper bags, and meat goes underneath an ice pack.
Blue Apron takes a similar approach to their packaging, but they often have more individual bags, which means you will want to check each one ahead of the coming week.
Suppose you are trying to recycle as much as possible. In that case, my vote is in favor of HelloFresh, because its paper bags are more recyclable and have slightly less packaging than the alternative.
From my experience, there isn’t much difference between both options when you think in terms of convenience. While their approaches are similar, they are also different enough to be noticed. As far as I noticed, the only time-consuming part for both services is figuring out what you want to order.
If you want to make changes or may want to cancel, both services are equally good. Changing delivery days is quick and straightforward, regardless of which plan you may be subscribed to.
If you want to skip a week, that can be done too, but you need to do that before the new box is ready to be shipped. Also, both services allow you to cancel quickly via the app, so there is no need to call customer support.
Blue Apron allows users to change their delivery address temporarily if they are heading out of town for a few days. This will enable you to continue receiving your delivery. Unfortunately, this feature isn’t available with HelloFresh.
Verdict: I will give Blue Apron the win here but only by a small margin because they have this temporary relocation feature that HelloFresh does not have - as of now.
Creativity and Quality Of The Ingredients
We all appreciate a meal kit service that is easy to set up, but all that ease of use is pointless if the food tastes awful. Fortunately, both services, i.e., Blue Apron and HelloFresh, offer an extensive range of meals, and thus there is something for everyone.
The food, in my opinion, boils down to your preferences, but on average, I think it is pretty good. However, it is also down to what you enjoy eating and whether your family has specific dietary requirements. Generally, I believe that both services offer a healthy blend of international and traditional flavors.
Whether you want to eat a burger or perhaps something that’s off the beaten path, both services have a couple of great options. Still, you’ll have more dishes to choose from if you don’t have strict dietary requirements - only then can you enjoy and taste everything. While there are pescatarian and veg options across both services, that’s as far as the benefits go with dietary requirements because there are no recommendations for keto, vegan and paleo, for instance. They offer some healthy but, in my opinion, limited options.
If you are into Weight Watchers, Blue Apron will be more your speed because they have Weight Watchers-approved meals in their Wellness range. HelloFresh, on the other hand, has low-calorie options. But neither of these services caters to someone with a specific need or if they have any allergen requirements. If you are that person, neither of these services will be for you.
The meal ideas change each week; that way, there is something new to look forward to. HelloFresh, for instance, has 25 recipes available each week. Blue Apron has 19 of them. Though there is a difference, most people with a varied palate will not notice it but the majority of subscribers will not. To me, the variety of meals was perfectly adequate.
The good thing about HelloFresh is that you can see menu plans several weeks ahead of time - I found it especially helpful because I like to plan ahead. In contrast, Blue Apron only shows you what’s lined up for next week. Plus, there is an extra category for people short on time. If you want to plan, then HelloFresh is undoubtedly a better choice.
Some recipes are labeled as easy preparation or cleanup, meaning you won’t have to spend extra time to wash up. However, you may also encounter ones that can be prepared in 15 minutes. Also, both companies provide time estimates, and the times often vary from 25 to 40 minutes. Keep in mind that this is pretty much the industry standard.
In either case, I found that assembling dishes happens to be very simple. The focus is slicing and dicing, or some simmering, with sauces often easily assembled or pre-made, which is why you don’t need to have any fancy cooking skills. All that’s required is to follow the clearly laid out recipe to know what will come up next; plus, Blue Apron also has recipe-specific videos that walk people through the methods.
It has been my personal experience that Blue Apron’s recipes require slightly more effort than HelloFresh. However, I suspect that Blue Apron’s dishes are a little more diverse and exciting because of the extra effort needed. Plus, you can swap elements like proteins in the dishes, ensuring that you get the required nutrition from the meal in question.
Apart from the set of main meal kits, both meal kit providers also offer add-ons. HelloFresh has various items such as desserts, sides, and even ready-to-heat-up or baked foods.
Alternatively, Blue Apron also has a set of butcher bundles meant to provide buyers with an extra dash of protein, in addition to lunch kits that become part of the meal prep bundles. We think that variety is always a good thing, and a few extras are welcome because you don’t need to head over to the store to buy your daily dose of sweetness. However, there are also sides and desserts on the menu.
In terms of ingredient quality, I believe that both HelloFresh and Blue Apron are very good choices. Generally, there are healthy doses of seafood, meat and vegetables, each ingredient as fresh as it can be. The vegetables are in excellent condition, ready to slice and dice.
In addition, you also get all the spices and various other additives that are measured out, so there is no extra work needed on your part. HelloFresh also has organic produce, but the priority are the main ingredients sourced from sustainable business partners and farmers. Blue Apron, however, focuses on sourcing only certified non-GMO ingredients.
Verdict: Blue Apron is the winner here not only because of their commitment to sourcing non-GMO ingredients but also because their meals are better tasting overall. The extra work may take a few additional minutes, but the result makes it worth it.
The supporting materials I received with both services is of excellent quality. Both services provide you with well-laid-out, colorful, easy-to-follow recipe cards, complete with photos. The quality of these cards is excellent, they are glossy, and you can store them in a scrapbook for future reference. I would be hard-pressed to declare one better than the other.
Added instructions are available in video form which makes life for newbie cooks a lot easier. Blue Apron has videos hosted on its site and can be accessed via its mobile app. However, with HelloFresh, the videos are available on their YouTube channel. From my experience, the videos may not necessarily be relevant to what you may want to prepare next week or even this week.
Both brands provide step-by-step instructions in their videos. This means you can follow along or cook along. Also, these instructions are available via their mobile apps. The HelloFresh app also includes a timer for every step, while Blue Apron has an interactive checklist making it easier to track progress. In a nutshell, both services make it quick and easy to find the necessary information.
Verdict: In terms of instructions, I’ll call it a tie. However, Blue Apron offers a bit more creativity despite its comparatively limited list of dishes. If you want variety, then HelloFresh is probably a better choice.
Pricing – Blue Apron Vs. HelloFresh
The pricing model for both HelloFresh and Blue Apron is the same, but the exact prices vary depending on how often you use them. Plus, extras add more to the bill. However, like any other subscription service, you get the most or best value by buying the most expensive package.
When signing up for Blue Apron, you can choose meals for two or four people. Also, you can sign up for two, three or four meal recipes a week. If you opt to get it for two people, you will get two weekly recipes, with every serving costing $10 and $10 shipping. Increasing this to four people, the price drops to $9 per serving. The pricing will alternate between $9 at the low end, depending on whether you choose three or four recipes weekly for two people. However, you’ll find the best value when cooking for four people and three recipes a week, which amounts to $8 per serving or around $7.50 for four per week.
I strongly advise that you keep an eye on the prices and how they change because you may end up spending anywhere from $50 on the low end a week to $130, depending on the number of recipes and people you are cooking for.
HelloFresh has similar plans, with varying costs depending on what you need. If you decide to cook two meals a week for only two people, it will cost $58 a week, which works out to around $11 a serving. However, the price per serving will go down to $10 if you decide to cook three meals a week, and this will gradually decrease with more recipes added.
HelloFresh offers the best value when you choose six weekly recipes for two people, costing $8.50 a serving. If you decide to cook for four people, then the per-recipe price will change quite a bit. Twice a week for four people will cost $86, which works out to $9.50 per serving. Increasing this to six meals will cost $202 a week or $8 per serving.
Generally speaking, Blue Apron is a hair cheaper, but there isn’t a significant difference across other metrics. However, you might also want to factor in other elements between meal kits that affect pricing. Both businesses offer add-ons, which will increase your bill depending on whether you add sides, breakfast, desserts, or all three.
If you want to choose a food kit service with the most add-ons, I’ll give the win to Blue Apron because it also throws in a wine pairing subscription, which also adds six 500ml bottles of wine every month for an added $66. Every bottle is paired to your chosen menu so you enjoy the each meal the way it should.
Sure, none of the extras is mandatory, and you can buy the meal, but it's always tempting to add a few more dollars to bill for them. If you want choices, then HelloFresh has more than Blue Apron, but Blue Apron has slightly higher quality items. So, you need to ask if you want quality or quantity!
Similar to any other service, you want to watch out for specials or special offers as they are called. Both companies appear keen to entice new users with steep discounts, which means you don’t have to spend as much to try the service. However, it would be best to dig deeper into determining what a meal will cost you once the probatory discounted period is over.
Verdict: The overall winner in this category is HelloFresh because their meals are slightly cheaper, and there is more to choose from.
There is no denying that both HelloFresh and Blue Apron are excellent options if you want to sign up for a meal delivery kit service that offers just about everything you’d need to meet your dietary needs. Both services, in my experience, have fresh ingredients, and the number of recipe ideas is expansive.
The downside with both is that none of them offers choices to meet people’s specific dietary needs. However, these are good options for people who consider themselves omnivores and want to expand their palette without pondering what to eat and cook daily.
The recipes are also ideally suited for novice cooks and those who don’t know how to cook but are willing to learn. Still, I’ve found that HelloFresh is a bit simpler for the most part, especially for inexperienced cooks, because they require less preparation.
Blue Apron has a slight advantage regarding the diversity of recipes; for most people, it can help improve their otherwise rudimentary cooking skills. However, in my experience, both brands have recipes that are easy to cook.
HelloFresh is a bit simpler; thus, it is a better option for people who are short of time and want to enjoy dinner without spending too much time in the kitchen. The recipes are more accessible for the most part, and if that’s something that appeals to you, then HelloFresh will be a better option. The other advantage of HelloFresh is that it has more dishes you can cook and having these so-called “more interesting” choices means that it will take longer for you to get bored with the food. Also, it is a good choice for people who want to try food they might have otherwise not tried.
When you want to cook for fewer people, then Blue Apron is a far better choice because it is cheaper for smaller orders. This is perfect for a couple with no kids that only need to buy a few recipes a week.
Blue Apron is also suitable for people who are into low-carb meals. But if you enjoy planning ahead, then HelloFresh is slightly better because it allows you to plan weeks ahead of time. This way, you can plan what you're going to eat for the next few weeks instead of days. Plus, HelloFresh is also more environmentally friendly thanks to their use of paper recycling bags; on the downside, both brands use plastic which is easy to address.
I strongly believe you can’t go wrong with any of these services. However, much depends on your preference, like your favorite meal or cuisine. HelloFresh and Blue Apron are worth checking out, especially if you want to see what works best for you. Maybe try both and then decide to continue with anyone depending on what you like or your family likes, for that matter.
The good news is that both services are simple and easy to navigate. Also, they are highly reliable and come accompanied by an excellent set of ingredients. I urge you to try these services mainly because they will diversify your food choices, offering you high-quality meals for a fair price.