What is the most affordable food box delivery service?

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on January 31, 2022
What is the most affordable food box delivery service?

Here is Saving.com.au’s guide to the most affordable food box delivery services.

If you love cooking but the thought of meal planning and then going grocery shopping makes you want to cry (nope, just me?), food box delivery services can be like kryptonite. Once you’ve tried them, you’ll never go back to your weekly shop again. 

Each week, these subscription services deliver recipes and the exact quantity of ingredients you need to cook them. 

The recipes are always simple and easy for even the most novice cooks to follow. 

Benefits of food boxes

  • Minimal food waste – never buy a whole set of spices again for the ‘one pinch’ you need for a recipe
  • Recipe cards with easy to follow steps
  • Pre-measured ingredients
  • List of basic pantry staples needed

HelloFresh

hellofresh

Source: HelloFresh

How does it work?

Perhaps the best-known food box delivery service on the market, HelloFresh is a weekly, auto-renewing subscription service where you can choose from their classic, vegetarian, or family-friendly plans. From there, you can select how many meals you want to order that week and for how many people (either two or four). 

Meals are chosen for you depending on what plan you’re on, but you do have the option of picking and choosing the recipes you want for each week.

Your box will have everything you need to prepare the meals, except for any assumed basic pantry items like (e.g. cooking oil, salt and pepper, flour, eggs, milk, white wine vinegar, honey, soy sauce, etc). Recipes are posted online the week prior and plenty of notice is given to subscribers of what basic pantry items are needed for that week, giving you plenty of time to stock up on any staples you might not already have in your pantry.

Ingredients come in colour-coded bags corresponding with the colour on each recipe card, so that you know which bag goes with which recipe. 

If you’re not keen on the upcoming week’s menu or just want to take a break, you can pause your subscription at any time – you’re not locked into a contract. 

Price

The cost depends on which box you choose and for how many meals and people, ranging from $7.99 per serving up to $11.66. 

A Quick & Easy Box costs $95.51 for four meals for two people (eight meals in total). A Veggie Box is also $95.51 for four meals for two people. A Family Box will set you back $153.83 for four meals for four people (16 meals in total).

Prices correct at time of writing

Pros

Delivery is free for most areas, and the meals cater to vegetarians, omnivores and families. 

Food wastage is kept to a minimum, with only the exact quantities needed for each recipe provided.

Cons

So much packaging! Everything is individually wrapped – even the herbs come packed in plastic which feels really unnecessary. 

Most of it is recyclable though, and the cooler bags are biodegradable and can be reused.

The bottom line 

It’s not the cheapest option on the market, but HelloFresh is still an affordable option if you’re time poor and don’t want the hassle of going shopping or deciding what to make for dinner every night.

Marley Spoon

marley spoon

Source: Marley Spoon

How does it work?

Marley Spoon is another great option for those who love cooking, don’t want the hassle of meal planning and shopping for the ingredients.

Choose from a two or a four-person box, and the number of meals you need for the week. The menu changes on a weekly basis and includes vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free, and a low calorie ‘Healthy Choice’ range.

You can browse the current recipes for that week before you place your order and customise your menu. Just like HelloFresh, each meal is conveniently packaged in its own bag containing all the ingredients for that recipe, so you don’t have to decipher which ingredients go with which meal. 

Basic pantry staples aren’t provided, but you can see what extras you’ll need when you put your order in, and you’ll get a handy reminder with your shipping confirmation.

You can change or cancel your subscription at any time, but you need to cancel up to a week before when your next delivery would be.

Price

The cost depends on which box you choose, and for how many meals and people, ranging from $8.95 up to $13.75 per meal.

A two-person box with four meals per person would set you back $97.59 while a four-person box with four meals per person costs $153.19. 

There’s also the option of adding a $24.90 fruit box to your delivery, filled with seasonal fruit which you can choose from. 

Delivery is $9.99 and you can hefty discount on your first order, depending on whether the offer is available at the time.

Prices correct at time of writing

Pros

Marley Spoon has a real focus on sustainability, from the organic food sourced right through to the recyclable packaging.

Marley Spoon claims all their meals have been put together by the in-house chefs and approved by a nutritionist. 

There’s even a dedicated cooking hotline if you ever get stuck on a recipe or are just generally a bit clueless in the kitchen.

If you’re going away for a week (or just running out of space in the fridge!) you can put your order on hold or simply skip that week.

Cons

Again, ingredients come individually wrapped which feels a bit wasteful. 

At the time of writing, Marley Spoon only delivers to Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, the Gold Coast, Wollongong, Newcastle, Darwin, and NSW’s Central Coast. 

The bottom line

Marley Spoon is probably Hello Fresh’s most direct competitor, with competitive pricing and a rotating weekly menu of tempting meal options. 

Dinnerly

dinnerly

Source: Dinnerly

How does it work?

Dinnerly only offers two options to choose from, a two-person box and a four-person box. Both plans include three meals a week per person and you can select which recipes you want from that week’s menu.

Three vegetarian options are offered each week.

Basic pantry staples aren’t provided, but Dinnerly will let you know what you need before you place your order. 

Price

Dinnerly claims to be the most affordable meal box delivery in Australia at just $4.85 per meal. 

A two-person box for four nights is only $65.59 while the family box for four nights is just $84.99. Delivery costs $9.99.

Prices correct at time of writing

Pros

At just $4.85 per meal, the price is kind of hard to argue with. 

You can also skip weeks – you’re not locked into a contract.

Every recipe only has five steps.

Cons

Unfortunately, there’s a reason why Dinnerly is the most affordable meal box in Australia. Unlike other meal box delivery options which organise ingredients according to each meal (e.g. in separate colour-coded bags), ingredients are mixed in together in the box.

Some online reviewers even complained that several key ingredients were missing, or there were random ingredients meant for other meals they hadn’t ordered.

Recipe cards aren’t provided in the boxes either so you’ll have to look up the recipes online or print them out yourself. 

The meals are also a lot more basic (read, boring) than those in other meal box services.

The bottom line

Surprise, surprise – turns out you get what you pay for. While Dinnerly is easily the cheapest meal delivery box on the market, it’s probably the most disappointing.

Pepper Leaf

pepper leaf

Source: Pepper Leaf

How does it work?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Pepper Leaf works pretty much identically to all the other meal box services already mentioned. You pick a box, select how many meals you want that week and for how many people. 

Pepper Leaf will then package it all up for you customised to your desired quantity and dietary requirements.

First timers get free seasonal fruit with their first two boxes and delivery is free.

Price

The cost depends on which box you choose, how many meals you want and for how many people you need to feed.

A classic box for two people for four nights costs $96.90 per week. A family box for four people for four nights is $159.90.

Prices correct at time of writing

Pros

Unlike any of the other meal delivery boxes, there are meal options for one person – perfect if you’re living out of home for the first time.

There are options for as many as six people too which is great for a big family. 

Dietary requirements are catered for, and there are plenty of vegetarian options. 

They also claim to work with the Food Editors at New Idea and Better Homes and Gardens to come up with the recipes, and all the ingredients are sourced from local farmers and producers.

Delivery is free, you can skip weeks, and cancel any time.

Cons

Delivery is currently limited to Victoria and New South Wales only, and you can only receive your order before 9 am on Saturdays and before 8 am on Mondays. 

If you’ve got severe food allergies or intolerances you’d be best to steer clear, as Pepper Leaf can’t guarantee there won’t be any cross-contamination.

Unlike some of the other food box delivery services, there is no separate list of required pantry staples, so you have to sift through each recipe to figure out what you’ll need.

The bottom line

It’s the only food box delivery service to offer meal options for one person, which makes them an obvious choice for singles living alone. Overall, Pepper Leaf offers more ingredients in each recipe than their competitors, and they use more herbs.

Their meat is sourced from a gourmet butcher as opposed to a meat wholesaler, and they offer the greatest flexibility with delivery times, the number of meals and people. 

EveryPlate

Everyplate.jpg

Source: EveryPlate

How does it work?

Another weekly, auto-renewing subscription service, EveryPlate is the newest meal kit service to launch in Australia. Since coming to market in August 2020, EveryPlate markets itself as good value - even cheaper than the grocery store - and so simple you can cook fuss-free. Of course, they also guarantee you a tasty feed.

All recipes are four-steps and with minimal ingredients. 

There are currently 20 recipes you can choose from each week, and you can have meals delivered for up to seven days per week.

You can select from two, four, and six people households. You can also skip weeks and cancel at any time.

Price

Meal kits start from $3.98 per plate, but this is for a six person household eating six meals per week. This would bring the weekly total to $153.27.

For a smaller household, four meals per week for two people (eight meals total) comes to $57.91 for the week.

For four people ordering four meals per week (16 total), this would cost you $94.63 total.

Delivery costs $9.99 and you can save on your first few deliveries. Currently, you can access 40% off your first box and 20% off your second and third.  

Prices correct at time of writing

Pros

Despite Dinnerly claiming to be the cheapest food box delivery service in Australia, EveryPlate takes the cake with the cheapest meals per serving.

The meals change weekly, keeping things fresh and meaning you can look forward to new tastes.

With only four steps and minimal ingredients, cooking the meals is simple, even for the most inexperienced cooks. Recipes seem to take no longer than 30 minutes to cook.

Meal kits can be delivered during daytime or nighttime windows from Saturday to Wednesday.

EveryPlate works with recognised suppliers to source fresh ingredients and quality produce.

Cons

Delivery is limited to NSW, Victoria, ACT, Queensland, and Western Australia currently, but the website says 'more locations are in the pipeline'.

Bad news if you've got special dietary requirements, as EveryPlate doesn't cater to keto, gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, low carb, or vegan eaters.

The bottom line

EveryPlate is Australia's newest meal kit provider, and comes with the cheapest meals on offer. But it's also pretty standard - you're not going to be eating like you're in a five-star restaurant. The meals still look pretty tasty and come with an attractive price tag.

The verdict?

When it came to price, we compared all five food box delivery services across their box options for two people for four nights, and four people for four nights.

This is because some of the food boxes didn’t have options for all five nights of the week, but they all had options for four nights – making it the most obvious way to compare all five for price.

HelloFresh Marley Spoon Dinnerly Pepper Leaf EveryPlate
2 people/4 nights $95.51 $97.59 $65.59 $96.90 $57.91
4 people/4 nights $153.83 $153.19 $84.99 $159.90 $94.63

As you can see in the table above, EveryPlate came out on top as being the cheapest food box delivery service for two people. But for four people, Dinnerly came in on top.

Marley Spoon was the most expensive for two people, and Pepper Leaf was most expensive for four.

Prices correct at time of writing

Saving.com.au’s two cents

If you struggle with meal prep and like the convenience of not having to think about the weekly grocery shop, food box delivery services are perfect. 

When you consider the average Australian family of four spends upwards of $200 a week on food and drink, a food box delivery service could help cut those costs. Keep in mind though, they don’t include breakfast or lunch options. 

Ultimately, you have to consider what’s best for you and your budget.

Article originally published by Emma Duffy on 5 April 2019, updated by Rachel Horan on 31 January 2022


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Rachel is a Finance Journalist, and joined Savings in 2021. Coming from a background in the FinTech space, her interests include the innovation of lending technology, property, investing, and more. With a passion for educating and informing people about their finances, she hopes to increase the financial literacy of everyday Australians.

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