Within the last few years, it seems like new meal kit subscriptions have been popping up all over the place. Each one offering full sets of ingredients delivered to your door with planned out recipes – making it easier than ever to cook your meals at home. They boast convenience and ease, eliminating the need for grocery store trips, menu planning and overall inspiration. All in all, they are a great concept. I personally enjoy trying them when I feel less inspired to cook or when I feel I’ve hit a wall with new recipes to try. I mean, let’s be real, you can only pin so many pins on Pinterest before you start to just feel like it’s hopeless. As a vegetarian (or in my case occasionally pescatarian), it can be difficult to figure out which meal kit might be best for you. This post walks you through my experience with several of the different meal kit subscriptions as a vegetarian. We’ll discuss the menu options, pricing, portion sizing and more. So if you’re vegetarian and have been thinking about trying out one of these subscriptions for yourself, then keep on reading.
Blue Apron was one of the first subscription boxes I tried. I believe when I set up my account the whole meal kit thing was still a relatively new idea, and so there weren’t many other companies out there doing it. Blue Apron worked for my house because they offered vegetarian meals as well as meals with a meat focus. Recently, I received an email from them stating that they were even now offering Beyond Meat products as substitutes for certain menus. This makes Blue Apron a great choice for anyone looking to try out vegetarian options or someone already eating this way. Unfortunately, my biggest issue with Blue Apron ended up being that the meals all started to taste the same. This is likely due to the fact that many of the same spices and ingredients were used in their vegetarian options (ie. repetitive pasta dishes with oregano and red chili pepper). This isn’t to say that the meals weren’t tasty, just that the flavors began to feel a bit monotonous as time went on. This may have been fine if this wasn’t exactly why I was trying out meal kits in the first place. Pricing for Blue Apron was extremely reasonable as a new subscriber with coupon codes. My first two orders (which were 3 meals of 2 servings each) were only $35.00 per box. Later on however, the price almost doubled and the boxes were right around $60 each. This still might be a great deal to someone not wanting to go to the grocery store or menu plan, but for me it didn’t seem justifiable with the meals and ingredients I was being given (ie. all vegetarian, no fish or meat of any kind). If you’re looking to try out meal kits, I’d definitely give them a try using the introductory offer if only for the costs savings.
Every Plate was sort of an accidental try-out for me. A friend had sent me a referral link for basically a free box for my first order – which is awesome! However, I didn’t realize that when I signed up to view their menu that I was automatically subscribing to their meal kits. I was unable to view their menu before signing up which put me in a bit of a pickle since I soon realized that they did not offer vegetarian options. Once I realized a box had shipped out to me, I contacted customer service through their chat function on their website. Every Plate’s customer service was amazing. They refunded the $1 I paid when I signed up and still let me have the box for free. Now granted, I could not eat much of what was inside the meal kit, or use the recipes that went with it, but all of the ingredients were basically sent to me for free. If you’re a meat-eater, I would definitely check them out as their prices are reasonable and you can’t beat great service. They do have a sister-site that is vegetarian called GreenChef.com. I have not tried that service yet, but may have to at some point in the future.
Hello Fresh was the second meal kit I tried (after the Every Plate snafu) and I was actually pretty impressed with their options. Although they don’t regularly offer vegan options, I was able to make their options work in our vegetarian/pescaratian household. The ingredients arrived super fresh which is always a bonus. My favorite part about Hello Fresh was, again, the introductory pricing. I paid only $21 for my first box which included 3 meals with 2 servings each. The portions were super generous as well which is always nice since I like to be able to pack leftovers as lunches when possible. The leftovers didn’t happen with every meal, but there were a couple that were incredibly filling and worked out that way. The second box was just over $30 which is still a great deal for the amount of food and the quality of ingredients. I also appreciated the variety in their menu. I was able to try a few things that I had never even heard of before such as grilling cheese and even eating raw dressed squash on top of a delicious farro salad. The flavors of each recipe varied greatly too which I love because, again, I’m usually using these meal kits to try and get out of a cooking slump. All in all, I would definitely recommend Hello Fresh, and may even use them again in the future to get more kitchen inspiration.
Sun Basket is one of the first subscriptions I tried that boasted having vegetarian and vegan options. However, I had expected to see many more options than what was offered. Basically if you’re doing 3 meals a week you were stuck with the three vegetarian option in that weeks menu, and vegan options were even less available. This isn’t to say that the food wasn’t good, because it was, but I feel that if a company is going to boast a specific offering it should be more in focus than it was. The pricing for Sun Basket was reasonable at first (again, as a first time customer with an introductory offer), but once the coupon was used up the price skyrocketed. To sign up for a “vegetarian” plan for 3 meals, 2 servings, it’s $72. I believe the main reason for this is that you pay $7 for shipping when many of the other meal kits will offer free shipping if you’re doing a large enough plan. My only other complaint with them would also be the serving size. Typically with vegetarian and vegan food I find myself needing a little larger portion size than usual. I found Sun Baskets servings to be somewhat small, and even had to make disproportionate servings for my husband and I so that he would feel satisfied after dinner. The menu items were tasty though, I just wish there would have been a little bit more food especially for the price.
Home Chef has been my most recent subscription and possibly my favorite so far. The first thing I love about Home Chef is their range of menu options. Granted, they don’t offer vegan so if you’re looking for that it won’t work, but they do offer at least 3 vegetarian options per week as well as plenty of seafood options. I also love the additional smoothies that you can purchase. They make a great and convenient breakfast or snack and have healthy ingredients such as coconut milk or greek yogurt and, of course, fruit. They offer a wide range of flavors as well. My most recent menu included a sun dried tomato pasta, a sweet-chili shrimp bowl, as well as a panko crusted salmon. I also added their peanut butter banana smoothie, which was amazing! I think that Home Chef was the best for me because of the inspirational menus. It really got my wheels turning about cooking and mixing ingredients in new ways, and gave me several great recipes that I will definitely make on my own in the future. These boxes were a little bit pricier – the first two were right around $50 – however, I feel that if I’m receiving a box with seafood items that $50 really isn’t that much (at least compared to $50 with all vegetables and grains). This is their introductory offer and I believe the boxes are right around $70 after the first three. This includes 3 meals, 2 servings each (with decently sized portions, sometimes with leftovers) and one smoothie recipe of 2 servings. So overall, yes, a little pricey, but decent if you eat seafood.
Overall, meal subscription kits are a fun way to get out of a cooking cycle of using the same recipes over and over and over. They are also a convenient way to avoid eating out and maybe even learn some new techniques along the way. Unfortunately, I think they are a bit pricey for someone looking for a strictly vegetarian menu. When you aren’t adding meat or seafood to a meal it shouldn’t cost the same as if you were. There are a couple other meal kits I haven’t tried yet that claim to be more veg-life focused, such as Green Chef and Purple Carrot. I may try those on my next round of inspiration searching, but until then I’m happy to take the recipes I’ve gotten so far and try some new things (here’s looking at you shrimp tostadas!). Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever tried a meal kit subscription or if you would. If you have, let me know what your favorites are and if there are any not mentioned above that I should try.
Until next time,