What is the most affordable food box delivery service?

Emma Duffy By on April 5, 2019
 
food box delivery

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 are 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 cook 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

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 per meal. 

A Classic Box costs $91.95 for four meals for two people (eight meals in total). A Veggie Box is also $91.95 for four meals for two people. A Family Box will set you back $154.95 for four meals for four people (16 meals in total).

There’s also a generous 40% discount off your first box.

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 lineĀ 

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

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 $92 while a four-person box with four meals per person costs $143.20. 

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 free and you can get a nice little $15 discount off your first box.

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

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 $4.95 per meal. 

A two-person box for four nights is only $59.75 while the family box for four nights is just $96.95.

Unlike the other options, delivery isn’t free, costing $8.95.

Prices correct at time of writing

Pros

At just $4.95 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

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 $89.90 per week. A family box for four people for four nights is $149.90.

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.

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. 

The Cook’s Grocer

Source: The Cook’s Grocer

How does it work?

Another weekly, auto-renewing subscription service, The Cook’s Grocer is limited to parts of New South Wales only.

Just choose a box and the meals you want to cook each week, and The Cook’s grocer will package all the ingredients up for you.

Your box has everything you need, apart from a few staple pantry items most people have lying around anyway. 

Unless stated otherwise, all their meals only take between 20 and 30 minutes from start to finish.

Unlike any of the other food box delivery options, The Cook’s Grocer also offers gourmet pre-cooked meals sourced from some of Sydney’s finest restaurants. 

Price

Again, the cost depends entirely on which box you choose, for how many nights and for how many people. Meals start from as low as $8 per serving through to $14.99.

There are three boxes to choose from. A two-person box for four nights a week would set you back $99.95. A family box (two adults and two children) for four nights is $134.95, while a four adult box for five nights costs $155.95

You can also order fruit and vegetable boxes, beginning from $19 for a fruit bag, all the way up to $68 for a family fruit and vegetable box.

Newbies can save $30 off their first two boxes.

Delivery is free for ongoing meal box deliveries, but if you’re ordering a one-off meal box you’ll have to pay a delivery fee of $8.75.

The gourmet pre-cooked meals are priced between $10 and $14 for a single serve. 

Prices correct at time of writing

Pros

The recipes feel a lot more premium than some of the others (Ras El Hanout roast lamb with jewelled couscous anyone?). 

The meals are really healthy, seasonal, and there’s a wide range of meat, seafood and vegetarian options to satisfy all appetites.

Chicken and pork is free-range, meat is only sourced from ethical farms, and only sustainable seafood is used. 

Cons

Delivery is limited to Sydney, the Southern Highlands, Canberra, Newcastle, the Central Coast and Wollongong only.

Another note on delivery – the drivers won’t ring your door bell or call or text you to announce their arrival, which is pretty inconvenient if you’re an apartment dweller. 

The bottom line

The Cook’s Grocer is easily the most high-end food box delivery service – but it comes at a steep price.

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.

HelloFreshMarley SpoonDinnerlyPepper LeafThe Cook’s Grocer
2 people/4 nights$91.95$92$59.75$89.90$99.95
4 people/4 nights$154.95$143.20$96.95$149.90$155.95

As you can see in the table above, Dinnerly came out on top as being the cheapest food box delivery service.

The Cook’s Grocer was the most expensive.

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. 

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