A Guide to the Greenest Meal Delivery Kits Out There

Subscription service meal planning kits are becoming the Netflix of the dinner table. They’re everywhere—you can’t listen to a single podcast without hearing an advertisement for Blue Apron or HelloFresh. Across the country, 50 million+ people have used meal delivery kits. Odds are you’ve probably heard of at least a handful of these meal subscription services (there are over 100 of these companies in the US alone).

Why are they such a big hit? For a few reasons. One, they are huge time savers. No more planning; no more shopping; no more prepping. We’re all busy, and there are very few of us who actually look forward to getting home and spending an hour or more cooking a healthy, flavorful dinner (those of you who do, we all applaud you). Additionally, they appeal to busy families of 2 to 4 who have a hard time finding healthy food options locally or are relative novices to real cooking with fresh ingredients. Some services even make cooking for 1 a lot easier, healthier and less confusing. In essence, they make fresh, healthy eating possible for lots of people.

On the other side, there are some major issues with meal-delivery kits on the whole. Namely, sustainability. In general, these kits are extremely wasteful, with single servings of ingredients excessively wrapped in plastic and foam packaging. And let’s not forget the environmental impact of shipping refrigerated foods across the country. That alone has the potential to massively increase your carbon footprint. Plus, in most cases, the freezer packs are an environmental disaster, destined to leach their chemical goop straight into a landfill. And if you pride yourself on picking out the freshest produce, you should know that choice become’s someone else’s, meaning your fresh goods might not be perfect quality every time.

But not all meal delivery kits are created equal. There are some companies who are make big waves in sustainability, plant-based eating and more. Here’s a comparison of the 6 of the healthiest, most conscious, most popular kits out there to help you decide which meal delivery kit might be right for you…

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GreenChef

Options: GreenChef has options for most diets (omnivore, gluten-free, paleo, keto, vegetarian, vegan, and carnivore) for 2, or 4 people (2 to 3 days a week).

Ethics: All packaging can be reused, recycled or composted, including their compostable jute insulation. However, their non-toxic freezer packs must still be drained into the trash when you’re done reusing them. Additionally, they recommend recycling #4 plastic film, which isn’t impossible, but is more difficult for most people to recycle as you need to find special drop-off locations. GreenChef works with TerraPass to offset 100 percent of their operation carbon emissions. They care about clean eating and living green and their meals and packaging reflect that.

Cost: $10.50 to $14.50 per serving, plus $9 shipping fee

Good to Know: With pre-prepped ingredients, dinners generally take 30 to 45 minutes to cook. They offer a nice variety of comfort foods and global cuisines, but only 3 recipe options a week. They are also the first certified organic and gluten-free certified meal kit service.

Who’s it for: If you care about 100 percent organic meals, completely recyclable packaging and a wide array of dietary options, this is a great kit to try. If you are gluten-free, definitely go for it, but know that this kit is a bit pricier than other options.

HelloFresh

Options: HelloFresh offers classic or veggie plans (2 to 4 people) and a family plan (4 people) between 2 and 4 times a week.

Ethics: They use sustainably-sourced seafood and carefully select their meats and poultry and try to source local ingredients to reduce transportation waste. They also very clearly explain how to recycle their packaging, which can all be recycled (except for that nontoxic freezer pack again, which will eventually end up in a landfill). They care about getting people cooking healthy, unprocessed foods rather than eating out.

Cost: $8.84 to $9.99 per serving, with free shipping

Good to Know: HelloFresh offers 10 new healthy and affordable recipes weekly. They even worked with well-known clean-eating chef Jaime Oliver in 2016 to design recipes that are both clean and delicious. They also offer a wine club, so you can get the perfect wines shipped to your door with your dinner.

Who’s it for: If you like to skip or pause meals, it’s really easy to do that with HelloFresh. Also, if you’re looking for dietician-approved, affordable, classic meals for the whole family, this is a good choice to go with.

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Purple Carrot

Options: There are 2 options: the general plant-based Purple Carrot meals and the TB12 high performance meals (gluten-free). All meals are 100 percent plant-based and vegan-friendly.

Ethics: Purple Carrot is all about healthy plant-based eating. They want to help you become a “balanceatarian“, a person who adopts a plant-based diet even just a few times a week in order to support their own health as well as the health of the environment. (We know that the environment would be a lot healthier if we reduced our addiction to factory-farmed animal products, so this is a mission we should get behind.) The majority of their packaging is also recyclable, biodegradable, reusable or compostable, and they offer ideas for how to upcycle their packaging on their website. The nontoxic freezer pack must still be drained into the trash after being reused.

Cost: $12 to $13 per serving, 1 to 2 people, 3 meals a week

Good to Know: Mark Bittman helped design the recipes for Purple Carrot, so you know the meals are going to be diverse and full of plants. They also teamed up with Tom Brady to offer their TB12 line of high-protein, gluten-free, plant-based, low-soy meals that support an active, conscious lifestyle.

Who’s it for: Vegans, vegetarians, plant-powered athletes, single-people or couples, anyone who cares about animal rights and a healthier planet while eating convenient, easy-prep meals. If you’re looking to improve your cooking skills, you’ll learn a lot of cool vegan cooking techniques with this service.

Sun Basket

Options: Meal plans include “chef’s choice,” paleo, gluten-free, Mediterranean, vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian and “lean and clean” (full of lean proteins and free of gluten, soy and dairy); between 2 to 4 dinners a week for 2, 4 or 6 people.

Ethics: Sun Basket is very upfront about their sourcing, listing their supplying farms directly on their website. They are USDA certified organic and only use responsibly-sourced non-GMO ingredients as well as pastured eggs, antibiotic/hormone-free meats and sustainable seafood. Over 99 percent of their produce is currently organic. Sun Basket’s entire box is 100 percent recyclable and ice packs can actually be composted in your backyard. And if that’s not enough, they also give back to local food banks.

Cost: $10.99 to $11.99 per serving, with $5.99 shipping

Good to Know: The one downside to Sun Basket? They don’t ship to AK, HI, MT and parts of NM. They also create some of the sauces and fillings ahead of time for you, so if you are looking to learn how to cook, this might not be the best option.

Who’s it for: If you care about environment, community and quality organic food above all else, this is the service is a good value for your money. Sun Basket is all about quality and ethics and is supportive of a very wide array of dietary lifestyles. It is always non-GMO.

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Blue Apron

Options: Blue Apron does not offer specific dietary plans beyond their classic recipes, with the exception of a vegetarian plan. They do offer select recipe options that follow Mediterranean or Whole30 principles most weeks. For 2 to 4 people.

Ethics: All of their ingredients are non-GMO and they are working to source animals fed non-GMO feed. Their packaging is not as sustainable as it should be, as I’ve mentioned before, but it can be recycled curbside or returned to the company for reuse (but it is unclear whether they actually reuse them).

Cost: $7.99 to $10.99 per serving, with free shipping

Good to Know: They never repeat a recipe within any given year. Cooking time runs an average of 30 to 45 minutes. They also offer a wine club, so you can get wine in the mail to pair with their meals, if that’s your thing.

Who’s it for: If you don’t have dietary restrictions, hate repeating meals and are on a tight budget, Blue Apron is probably for you. If you are looking for organic ingredients and special dietary options, it definitely is not.

Terra’s Kitchen

Options: Supportive of gluten-free, low calorie, dairy-free, paleo, low-carb, Whole30, vegan and vegetarian diets, for 2 or 4 people

Ethics: They don’t use traditional, wasteful shipping techniques. Their climate-controlled delivery vessels (essentially mini fridges) are reused 100+ times in order to reduce packaging waste. (It is unclear what happens to out-of-commission vessels in the long run. Do their big plastic carcasses get dumped into a landfill or are they recycled?) Their ice blocks and any plastic containers are also reusable/recyclable. As for their recipes, they are clean and follow the principles of the Mediterranean lifestyle. In fact, clean eating is their advertised priority. Ingredients are antibiotic/hormone-free and non-GMO and organic when possible.

Cost: $9.99 to $17.99 per serving (depending on the meal) with free shipping (all orders must be at least $65)

Good to Know: All ingredients are pre-washed, peeled and chopped to save you time. Prep is super easy and all meals are ready in 15 to 30 minutes.

Who’s it for: If you care about innovative environmental packaging and like knowing that your shipment is kept at a safe temperature, this is your service. Terra’s Kitchen also offer many dietary options that are super easy and really fast to cook for the healthy eater on the go, although the cost can get pricey as it is meal-dependent.

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73 comments

Hannah A
Hannah A15 days ago

Thanks for posting

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Olivia H
Olivia Habout a month ago

thanks

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Melisa B
Mia B1 months ago

thanks for posting

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Mia B
Mia B2 months ago

thank you

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Frances G
Frances G4 months ago

Thank you

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Emma L
Emma L5 months ago

thank you for sharing this

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Louise R
Past Member 5 months ago

tyfs

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Olivia M
Past Member 6 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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michela c
michela c7 months ago

Thanks

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Ruth S
Ruth S7 months ago

Thanks.

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