After a long, busy day, the last thing you likely want to think about is what to cook for dinner. Prepared meal delivery services take the guesswork out of that daily chore by offering a range of low-effort, ready-to-eat meals that you can pop into your oven or microwave and cook in minutes. Unlike meal kits, which come with individual ingredients that you have to prepare and cook yourself, pre-made meal services are far more convenient and time-saving. They also usually offer a variety of unique and customizable food options to fit your personal food preferences — including serving size and protein amount — while also catering to certain dietary restrictions like gluten-free, vegetarian and low-carb.
We spoke to chefs and nutritionists about their favorite prepared meal delivery services and compiled a list of their recommendations below along with pricing, serving size and plan details. We also listed a few Select staff favorites to consider.
How we picked the best prepared meal delivery services
We talked to our experts about what to consider when shopping for prepared meal delivery services. Here are the most important factors they say to keep in mind:
- Serving size: If you’re only feeding yourself, a single-serve prepared meal service is a great option. However, if you’re feeding a family or partner, you may want to opt for a meal kit plan that consists of multiple serving sizes (typically ranging from two to eight servings), instead.
- Dietary restrictions: If you’re gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan or follow any other specific type of diet, scan the service’s weekly menu to confirm that it offers options to fit those dietary needs.
- Pricing: The price of meal kit delivery services are based on the quantity of meals you get per week and the quality of ingredients and recipes. More budget-friendly services might not cater to all dietary restrictions or needs, while diet- and lifestyle-specific options typically cost more.
- Delivery dates and times: Consider when you’re available to receive your meals to ensure they don’t go to waste. Most services will offer customizable delivery plans to choose what days you want to receive your weekly delivery.
Best prepared meal delivery services of 2023
We talked to experts about their favorite prepared meal delivery services, including options for certain dietary restrictions like gluten-free and vegetarian, and highlighted their recommendations below across budgets and diets. All the meal delivery services below offer single-serve ready-to-eat meals, with some offering additional meal kit options, too.
Factor provides a weekly rotating menu of over 27 pre-prepared meals designed by dieticians, according to the brand. Lisa Young, an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University, recommends this service because it caters to a number of diets and dietary needs, including keto, paleo, low-carb, vegetarian, plant-based and high-protein. “[It] offers healthy and freshly-cooked meals that can accommodate different eating styles,” Young says. You can choose from five plans, ranging from four meals per week up to 18 meals per week.
I recently tried out Factor after the brand sent me a few boxes, and I found the meals to be both delicious and extremely convenient — after a long day at work, I simply popped them into the oven and they were ready to eat in no more than 15 minutes. Former Select writer Justin Redman previously called Factor a “godsend” and lauded its convenience factor. “The food quality has been excellent, and while your options are a bit more limited if you have a nut allergy like me, I still find great options on the menu every week,” he says. Our experts also like the prepared meal delivery’s price for the quality: “Factor is incredibly reasonably priced for the quality of health-oriented food they offer,” says Ariane Resnick, a special diet chef and certified nutritionist.
Cost: Starting at $11 per meal with free shipping | Number of meals: 4 to 18 meals per week
CookUnity offers multiple plans depending on how many meals you want to receive, with subscriptions ranging from four to 16 meals per week. You can make your selections from a rotating menu of ready-to-eat options each week or have them picked for you based on your preferences, including your choices of protein and any dietary restrictions like vegetarian, vegan, low-carb and gluten-free.
“Every week, I get to choose from hundreds of meals, and a ton of them fall into my gluten-free, pescatarian diet,” says former Select editor Morgan Greenwald, who started using CookUnity after a friend recommended it. You can also flag any allergies or foods you don’t like, and CookUnity will notify you if they appear in any meals on the menu. “I appreciate that they provide full ingredient lists, down to the individual ingredients in cheeses,” says Resnick. The meals come fresh and have a refrigerated shelf life of about four to seven days, according to CookUnity.
Cost: Starting at $10 per meal with free shipping | Number of meals: 4 to 16 meals per week
Home Chef is best known for its meal kit delivery, but it also offers a Fresh & Easy plan with multiple oven-ready and grill-ready meals designed with minimal prep and clean up in mind, according to the service. Within its rotating weekly menu of more than 30 meals to choose from, Home Chef will offer about 10 options that are pre-made.
Before ordering, you’ll be prompted to take a quiz that personalizes your menu based on your taste, serving size and delivery preferences. When looking at individual menu options, each meal shows the estimated time it takes to heat up. Home Chef also lets you customize the type and amount of protein you want in each meal (including low-calorie and vegetarian options), which makes it a great option for people who want variety or those with certain dietary restrictions, according to Ben Leonard, a chef and food educator with more than 15 years of experience. With that said, it may not be the best option for people who are indecisive or picky eaters, according to Leonard.
Cost: Starting at $10 per meal (minimum weekly order value of $51) with $10.99 shipping | Number of meals: 2 to 6 meals per week
BistroMD is a single-serve, individualized plan, so this may not be a good option if you’re looking to feed a family or yourself and a partner. It lets you choose from over 150 chef-prepared meals based on your dietary needs. Lisa Moskovitz, a registered dietitian and CEO of NY Nutrition Group, recommends this service because it offers various health-conscious plans — you can pick from five different programs: Signature, Gluten-free, Heart Healthy, Diabetic and Menopause. Each week, you’ll be able to customize which meals you receive.
The service also offers an EATS (Essential And Tasty Snacks) program that provides healthy snacking options for either five or seven days for an additional charge, as well as a Men’s Snack Program that costs an additional $53 for three snacks a day for seven days, and a Women’s Snack Program that costs an additional $35 for two snacks daily for seven days.
Cost: Starting at $7 per meal for the 7-day plan and $8 per meal for the 5-day plan, with an additional $20 for shipping | Number of meals: 5 to 7 meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner per week
Sunbasket offers both meal kits and pre-made meals, which consist of high-quality ingredients and organic produce, according to the brand. And if you don’t feel like solely committing to the Fresh & Ready plan — which includes single-serve meals to heat in the oven or microwave — you can mix and match with over a dozen meal kits from its weekly rotating menu, giving you options for days you want to cook, as well as those sporadically busy days when you just don’t have time. These pre-made meals don’t come frozen, but you can freeze most of them to cook later (the ones that can be frozen have specific cooking instructions on them).
Sunbasket “has a variety of options that can be modified for carnivores and strictly plant-based eaters alike,” says Moskovitz. Each meal indicates whether it accommodates certain dietary restrictions, including gluten-free, soy-free and vegetarian.
Cost: Starting at $10 per meal with $6 shipping | Number of meals: 4 to 10 meals per week
Splendid Spoon offers over 50 healthy ready-made and gluten-free meals and snacks, including smoothies, soups, grain and noodle bowls. You can choose one of three plans, including a seven-, 14- or 21-meal plan per week (and you can add more meals at an additional cost). The service recommends freezing the food upon unpacking, which it says makes the meals last one to three months. “I recommend Splendid Spoon for anyone who wants healthy meals in a flash — they taste as healthy as they are, which is a downside for some and a bonus for others,” says Resnick, who was sent a few boxes by the brand to try out.
While you can’t customize the number of meals you get per plan, Splendid Spoon does let you choose how often you want to receive your meals: weekly, every other week or once a month. You can also choose the On-Demand Box, which lets you order food in bulk.
Cost: Starting at $10 per meal and $85 for the plan with $13 shipping (free if you order 10 or more meals) | Number of meals: Five to 20 meals per week
Purple Carrot offers prepared meals (as well as meal kits), which are plant-based and include several gluten-free options. “Because it's fully plant-based, Purple Carrot is an easy way for people to add more plant foods into their diets without having to fully convert to veganism,” says Resnick. She called the meals a perfect mix of “familiar and innovative,” with options like kimchi grilled cheese and Baklava overnight oats.
You can customize the number of meals you get per week — ranging from six to 10 frozen meals. Deliveries take place on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays depending on your shipping location, and you can choose to skip a delivery on any given week.
Cost: Starting at $13 per serving with free shipping | Number of meals: 6 to 10 meals per week
Epicured says all its meals are gluten-free and low-FODMAP, which means they don’t feature certain carbohydrates and food additives that can be hard for some people to digest. This makes them a great option for those with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or a generally sensitive tummy, according to Moskovitz. It presents you with a rotating menu of over 50 prepared foods spanning breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts. The service even offers curated meal bundles that include a Brunch Bundle, Taco Night Bundle, Freezer-Filler Bundle and more. Once you choose your meals and register, each weekly order is automatically renewed (if you don’t manually pick your meals, last week’s meals will be sent again).
Cost: Starting at around $15 per meal with free shipping for orders over $100 (the shipping cost for orders under $100 depends on the delivery location) | Number of meals: As many as you want
On the pricier side, Sakara Life offers a selection of ready-to-eat meals, all of which are gluten-free, organic, dairy-free and plant-based, according to the service. It also lets you choose the number of days you want to receive meals (two, three or five days) and you can check off any combination of breakfast, lunch and dinner to receive for the number of days you selected.
Programs include the Signature Nutrition Program, which comes with up to three meals per day and your choice of two, three or five days, and the 30-Day Reset, a four-week program that lets you choose at least two meals (breakfast, lunch or dinner) for up to five days per week. You can choose to do a one-week trial program if you’re just getting started, or you can pick a recurring subscription program that automatically renews each week with a set menu of meals that rotates weekly and seasonally. “Sakara is very popular among my clients because of [its] varied menu, top-quality ingredients and delicious taste,” says Moskovitz.
Cost: Starting at $28 per meal with free shipping | Number of meals: 2 to 15 meals per week
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Lisa Young is an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University and a private practice nutritionist.
- Ariane Resnick is a special diet chef and certified nutritionist. She’s also a recipe developer and has written about nutrition, health, wellness and identity for a variety of platforms, including The Kitchn, Livestrong and Simply Recipes.
- Lisa Moskovitz is a registered dietitian and the CEO of NY Nutrition Group. She is the author of “The Core 3 Healthy Eating Plan,” a program that focuses on simple and sustainable ways to lose weight.
- Ben Leonard is a chef and educator for companies and brands nationwide, including Sur La Table, Greenpan and more.
- Abby K. Cannon is a dietitian and founder of food blog Abby's Food Court.
Why trust Select?
Mili Godio is an editor at Select who has extensive experience covering meal delivery services, including gluten-free and vegetarian options. For this article, Godio spoke to six experts about what to consider when shopping for a meal delivery service and how to determine the best one for you. They also shared their favorite meal delivery services to try out.