A series of unsponsored meal kit reviews and comparisons
A few months ago, my daughter made a case for us to try meal kits. I wasn’t so sure at first. Whenever I had checked into them previously, they seemed expensive and didn’t have a lot of recipes we would actually like. I have two particular eaters in my household, and we’re pretty plain eating folks. But, I decided to check into it again and found there were many more options, so I decided we’d give meal kits a try. I started with one company, but I was anxious to do a meal kit comparison and see what we’d like most.
So after about five meal kit boxes from one provider, I paused my account and changed to another. I just wanted to see the difference. At the same time, there was a third one I was curious about as well. I figured all this trying would end up being a great meal kit comparison to share!
Before ordering, I tried looking at meal kit comparisons, but most of them seemed to include affiliate links or sponsorships with the companies. I am not affiliated with or sponsored by any of these meal kit companies. When I started writing this meal kit comparison, in fact, I had no idea which service I’d end up liking the most — if any of them. I didn’t even intend to make it a blog post!
Then, once I decided to make it a blog post, I thought it’d be just one post. Pretty quickly, I realized that I needed more than one post to include all the information to make a helpful comparison. Over a few weeks, I’m posting our experiences with Dinnerly, Hello Fresh, Home Chef, Every Plate and EMeals.
From the beginning of this journey, I was most intrigued by EMeals. It is much cheaper because you’re only paying for the meal plans and buying the groceries yourself. They partner will various grocery stores to help make shopping easier. I do like that. As a rather DIY person, I figured EMeals would be the best fit for us.
Signing up for EMeals was pretty painless. I signed up online but then had to download the app to do much else. You can see your account and payment information online, but finding recipes and creating shopping lists has to be done through the app. I’m not anti-apps by any means, but I often have my laptop and like having the option to use it as well. Plans that have both make me happiest!
Since EMeals doesn’t have to source the food for its recipes like other meal kits do, they have many more menu options. There are a few that are family friendly options, and I started with those. Of all the meal kits we have tried, this one definitely had the most options that worked for my entire family. Quite a few of the meals were similar to things in our regular rotation, but there were lots of new options as well. My concern was whether I’d push outside of our comfort zone as much as I have with other meal kits!
EMeals also goes with some premade items on many recipes to make cooking time quicker. That’s a nice bonus for this mama on busy weeknights!
I’d love to have a search feature in EMeals to look for meals that utilize specific ingredients. For example, the first week using EMeals, I bought a half gallon of buttermilk for a blueberry muffin recipe. That’s not something I usually use, so I wanted to find other recipes to make use of the buttermilk.
While you do select a specific plan you’d like to go with (like family friendly, low calorie or budget), you can easily access and pick from recipes in all of the plans. I really like that!
EMeals offers 14 days for free, but you have to put in your payment information for them to start charging at the end of 14 days. Instead of being a monthly or weekly charge, EMeals charges either every three months at $9.99 a month or once a year at $4.99 a month. I opted for the three-month option when signing up, because I didn’t know how much we’d like it. Honestly, I’d prefer a monthly option at least to start with.
For additional fees, you can also add on a breakfast plan and a lunch plan (each costs additional). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anywhere to view these plans ahead of time and they aren’t included in the free trial, so I didn’t go for them.
Shipping wasn’t relevant to EMeals for me. I order my groceries online and pick them up. EMeals partners with a variety of retailers to help you make your list. So, I worked with Walmart, which is my go-to for grocery pick-up anyway.
Once you pick however many recipes you want for the week, then you can click and see your ingredient list in the EMeals app. It will pull up every single ingredient needed to make everything you have saved for the week. One negative to me is that it often automatically adds alcohol to pair with meals to the shopping list. We don’t drink alcohol, so I removed it from the list, but it sort of irritated me I even had to do that. However, it wasn’t difficult to remove. Each item has a box next to it to check whether you need it. It starts out with everything checked. And the list also tells you how much of an ingredient you need and what recipe you need it for. (I like that!)
Before even connecting to Walmart, I was able to remove items from the list that I had on hand. Once that was finished, then I clicked a button and it took me ingredient by ingredient through the Walmart app to add whatever choices I wanted. It pulled up a selection of items and I picked from them. It was easy!
I also was able to add on additional items as well. The items I added to my Walmart cart through the EMeals app also were in my Walmart cart in the Walmart app. For the rest of my shopping, I just switched to the Walmart app itself because that’s what I’m most familiar with.
If you really love having the groceries delivered to your house, then opt for your grocery store’s delivery service.
Again, this is a bit different from the others in that the ingredients being fresh or not didn’t depend on EMeals. I liked the way I made selections of ingredients in the app. However, I also wondered how difficult it would be to find and purchase the ingredients needed for recipes. With previous meal kits, we used multiple ingredients that were a bit more specialty. I wasn’t confident my local Walmart would carry some of them.
However, EMeals recipes are more simplified and use some convenience foods as well, like refrigerated mashed potatoes or mac & cheese. I had no problem finding any of the ingredients I needed.
Cooking the meals
Of all the meal kit meals I’ve made, EMeals were the very easiest. The recipes are more like recipes I usually make for my family on a weeknight. While I love making things from scratch sometimes, a lot of weeknights, I just need to get food on the table and move on. I never felt out of my depth with anything I made from EMeals. They weren’t as challenging as the other meal kits, which is both a positive and a negative. Though they were easier to make, they didn’t push me out of my comfort zone.
I don’t like using my phone to read recipes, which I thought was going to be an issue with EMeal. The recipes are only on the app. But, I discovered that if I share the recipe via email to myself, then it takes me to the recipe on the website and has a print button right there for easy printing. I loved that!
The estimated cook times seemed accurate and sometimes it took me a little less time than estimated, which was great!
The portion sizes vary on the recipes you make. All of them are clearly marked. Since you purchase your own ingredients, you can adjust the portion sizes as needed. For example, my family isn’t big on eating meat. The first week, I halved our ground beef purchase for the recipes. So we got fewer portions as a result. But feeding a family four with the family plan was super easy. Many of the recipes feed up to six people. The portion sizes seemed spot on for the recipes we tried.
I’d give EMeals a 5 out of 5 stars. It is certainly a different type of service, but for the price, I liked it. I debated back and forth about whether it was any easier than just doing meal planning on my own using recipes I find on the internet. (Check back next week for a post about meal planning without a service.) I definitely could, but having everything narrowed down in one place is helpful. So, EMeals is definitely one of my top picks.
Other posts from this series: