We make it fast and easy for you to find the best meal delivery services to cater to your diversified foodie needs.
Preparing a home-cooked, nutritious meal can be somewhat of a struggle when juggling work, family, friends and other commitments. Australia’s veritable smorgasbord of meal delivery services and food box subscriptions offer a solution, making healthy eating easier and more cost-efficient for you. Whether you’re after gourmet meals for one, dietician-approved meal plans or family dinners, there is a meal delivery service that can cater to your needs.
Comparison of meal delivery services for 2019
What is a meal delivery service?
A meal delivery service (MDS) offers fresh, wholesome produce prepared, packaged and delivered to your door in ready-made meal form. Some services deliver their meals fresh, some are frozen. It’s important to check how the meals are chilled before you decide to subscribe. We have done the hard work for you and will provide these details in the table below.
Customers sign up to the service online, pick their plan and have a specific number of meals delivered to their door on a weekly basis. These pre-proportioned meals come in plastic containers labelled with nutritional information.
Youfoodz, Gourmet Dinner Service and Dinner Ladies offer fully prepared meals. Customers can choose from their dedicated meal lists before ordering. The meals are then delivered in insulated cool boxes on a specified date.
How does a meal delivery service differ from a meal kit service?
Meal kit delivery services, or food boxes, provide all the ingredients for each meal along with menus for the week, meal cards and cooking instructions. These services sometimes offer healthy eating guides and diet plans that are devised for your personally.
The number of meal kit delivery options is steadily increasing to meet the growing demand of busy people who don’t want to forgo a healthy, well-balanced diet of home-cooked food.
Companies like HelloFresh, Marley Spoon and The Cook’s Grocer offer a variety of subscription and pay-as-you-go food box services, which deliver meal kits with all the ingredients you’ll need. Meal cards show how each meal needs to be prepared and the cooking time. Many companies try to keep meal prep and cooking within the 30-minute mark.
What you’ll need:
- Pantry staples. Meal kits will require you to have some staple ingredients at hand to be able to complete the meal. These include olive oil, salt, sugar and milk. Most of the services will tell you what extras you’ll need when you order or the week before your box arrives. The meal kit should have any extra ingredients you need contained within it.
Why a meal delivery service could work for you
- Flexibility. Not everyone wants their daily diet to come pre-packaged. You may want to choose only one meal a day to cut down on your cooking time. Or maybe you enjoy cooking, but don’t always get around to it and want to avoid takeaway food. Having healthy meals at the ready provides a flexible solution to a busy life.
- The choice is made. Knowing you have a batch of meals in the fridge or freezer means you don’t need to think about what to make. And if you’ve chosen a meal kit, even the small extras like herbs and spices are provided for you.
- Less food waste. Most meal kit companies provide just the right amount of ingredients so that there is little waste. If you order from the same company regularly, you’ll soon learn what extras they send so you don’t have to buy these at the shops. For example, a meal may require garlic, but the company could send you a whole bulb. This ingredient can be used in another dish in the future.
- Nutritious meals. Every meal prepared has been created to assist in maintaining a well-balanced, healthy diet. If you’re prone to snacking on unhealthy food, at least you know one meal of the day is packed with goodness. A number of these companies use dietitians or nutritionists to help build their menus.
- Long-lasting. The benefit of ordering pre-made meals is that you can stockpile some for later if you don’t get around to eating every dish in one week. If you’ve ordered ready-made meals, the MDS will tell you how long their meals can last in the fridge or freezer.
- Special diets are considered. Many meal delivery services cater to different dietary requirements. Some are vegan-only, some offer paleo options and some are specifically designed for diabetics. Most of these companies have vegetarian and gluten-free options, you just need to check before you order.
- Offers new ideas. So many of us get stuck in a rut at dinnertime. Whether you’re a meat-free Monday person or Taco Tuesday person, it’s always nice to mix things up a little and try something different.
- Teaches you how to cook. Meal kit services provide easy-to-follow cooking instructions with every meal, which gives you the opportunity to cook new dishes or learn how to cook properly for the first time ever. Go on, release your inner chef!
- No more shopping. Not everyone loves to wander the aisles aimlessly or drag the kids along shopping. Signing up for a MDS means you only need to hit the shops when you’re running low on the essentials.
The downsides of a meal delivery service
- Lack of space. Not everyone has a large fridge or chest freezer in which to store a week’s worth of meals. Having enough space to store the meals will dictate which service you join and how much you can order.
- Not enough food. Some meal delivery services focus more on the protein in the meal rather than the veg, therefore you may need to buy extra to ensure you get a good portion of vegetables with every meal. Some services offer vegetables as a side dish, however, this will increase the total cost of the meal.
- Portion sizes. Many companies make the same size meal for all, while others recognise that a 5-foot woman will need less than a 6-foot man. You may want to check out the services that offer varied portion sizes rather than just one.
- Feeding your family. Life can be incredibly busy for families in which both parents work. Having meals delivered makes for an easier life, but some of these services don’t send enough food for large families, which means you’ll need to hit the shops anyway. You’ll need to hunt for the companies that offer larger family portions.
Things to consider
What about dietary requirements?
With awareness of dietary requirements growing, the majority of delivery services cater to a variety of specialist diets. This guide outlines what each company offers in terms of dietaries, but it’s best to check yourself with the service before you sign up.
Weighing up the costs
Meal delivery and meal kits services are more expensive than buying your groceries in the supermarket. But what you’re paying for is convenience and the expertise of others, as well as their labour.
- Compare with current bills. Before you sign up for any service, you need to compare the costs with your average shopping bill. Keep all the receipts from your shopping for the month and record what you spend on food items separately.
If you’re super keen to ensure the decision is right for you, separate out the vegetables, protein and dairy costs in case you end up subscribing to a company that only offers their veg as a side dish. That way you’re comparing like with like.
- Consider the number of people. Many of the promotions you’ll see are based on a two-person subscription. It’s important to check the fine print of each offer to ensure you don’t get hit with extra costs when you sign up.
Always check the fine print
No matter what you buy online, it’s important to check terms and conditions. Meal delivery services may have a minimum spend amount or ask that you sign up for at least one month. Some services will allow you to pay as you go. Also remember to check the FAQ of each service for more information, or get in touch with the company directly.
Which meal delivery service is for you?
There are over 35 meal delivery services in Australia. The larger companies deliver to major cities and some regional areas. It’s important to check which companies deliver to your postcode before ordering. Some companies deliver to the west coast only, others to parts of the east coast only.
We’ve divided up the services we’ve reviewed to make it easier for you to decide which one might be right for you:
- Firm favourites
- Feeling fit
- Whole foods
- Weight loss
- Gourmet dining
- Farm to plate
- Dedicated to dietary requirements
Francesca Guerrera is a producer at Finder, helping users around the globe find the best deals. She has a Bachelor of Communications in Journalism (Honours) from the University of New South Wales.
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