HelloFresh vs. Blue Apron: How These Two Meal Kits Measure Up

HelloFresh vs. Blue Apron: taco meat in a fry pan
Image: Kevin McCutcheon

If there’s one thing we know to be true, it’s this: Adulting is hard.

Work, laundry, making an impromptu appearance at the gym—there’s simply too much in the workweek to check all the boxes. And when earning a paycheck takes precedence (again, #adulting), sometimes not everything on your personal to-do list gets checked off. Grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning your house? They’re just not going to get done in your 50+ hour workweek.

Instead of strolling through the Whole Foods hot bar for the fourth time this week, why not try a meal subscription. Meal subscription services like Plated, Blue Apron, Green Chef, and Hello Fresh take care of the planning and shopping, and ship the recipes and ingredients straight to your front door.

If you’re considering signing up for a meal kit delivery service, keep reading. We’re sizing up some of the top contenders in the market—Hello Fresh and Blue Apron—to see how they compare and how (or if) they make the adulting game easier.

How HelloFresh Works

HelloFresh offers a subscription service that starts at just $6.99 a meal (plus $6.99 shipping). A variety of meals are on the menu, including fish, chicken, steak, or plant-based meals. You can order their classic plan (a mixture of meals for 2-4 people), vegetarian plan, or family plan (for 4+ family members).

According to some reviews of the service, the family plans were one of the biggest draws of HelloFresh, allowing entire families to eat together. Family plans start at $7.87 per serving, plus $6.99 in shipping costs.

Each Hello Fresh box comes with recipe cards and the ingredients to make those recipes. Recipe cards include the nutritional information for the recipe, which helps support health-conscious consumers. HelloFresh meals include fresh ingredients, delivered straight to your door in a box insulated with ice packs.

And, interestingly enough, the HelloFresh meal service also ships wine. So if booze is a priority (to each their own), you can get six bottles delivered monthly through the HelloFresh Wine Club.

The Downside of HelloFresh

The biggest consumer complaint about HelloFresh? It doesn’t save that much time. While their menu of meals includes seemingly impressive like green olive pasta puttanesca, salsa verde enchiladas, and hoisin-glazed meatballs, many of their dishes take 45 minutes to prepare. None of the dishes on their menu take less than 20 minutes to cook.

HelloFresh scores their dishes based on cooking difficulty with one being the “easiest” to prepare. As an example, their pork and charred corn chimichurri tacos have a level one difficulty rating, yet require six different cooking steps (with each step being a full paragraph long) and an incredible 14 ingredients.  

Remember the 20-45 minutes spent chopping, prepping, and twiddling your thumbs by the stovetop? That doesn’t include clean-up. With the number of ingredients required ranking in the double digits, you’re sure to be left with a sink-sized mountain of dishes.

How Blue Apron Works

HelloFresh vs. Blue Apron: a sink full of dirty dishes

Arguably one of the most recognizable brands in the space, Blue Apron delivers chef-designed meals straight to your door. Consumers can choose between two-person plans, four-person plans, or a vegetarian option. They also have a “Freestyle” plan, overseen by Weight Watchers to deliver healthy, low-calorie dishes.

Blue Apron Meals are slightly more expensive than HelloFresh, starting at $8.99 per serving for the four-serving plan and running up to $9.99 per serving for the two-serving plan. Shipping, however, comes free. You can choose to have 2-3 recipes delivered to your doorstep each week, depending on your needs and lifestyle.

Like HelloFresh, Blue Apron has now expanded into the adult beverage industry as an add-on service. Wine can be delivered to your front door for roughly $10 a bottle, or $65.99 per month, plus tax. You can choose between a box of all white, all red, or a mix of both.

The Downside of Blue Apron

Last year, Blue Apron customers cancelled their service in droves. In fact, almost one-fourth of their customer base left in a span of just three months, the total average order size went down, and the number of consumers subscribing to meal kit delivery services as a whole went down in the United States.

Like HelloFresh, the biggest complaint against Blue Apron is the fact that it simply doesn’t save much time. But unlike its competitor, Blue Apron’s problems extend far beyond a stack of dirty dishes in the sink.

Blue Apron claims to send perfectly-portioned ingredients to their customers, but reviews say otherwise. The ingredients come jumbled together in a meal box, so before you start playing chef for the evening, you’ll have to go through your delivery and sort out which ingredients belong with which recipe.

Other customers state that the recipe cards are incredibly difficult to understand and require advanced cooking techniques, which can extend the amount of estimated meal prep time. Like HelloFresh, Blue Apron dishes often contain ingredients in the double digits with most recipes requiring five steps.

And afterwards, you still have the joy of cleanup.

How Tovala Measures Up Against HelloFresh and Blue Apron

HelloFresh vs. Blue Apron: a Tovala meal of salmon and broccoli

Seventy-one percent of Tovala customers tried a meal kit service before switching over, and it’s no wonder why.

The Washington Post described Tovala as, “Blue Apron for people who find Blue Apron too cumbersome,” because it delivers on what it promises: convenience. Unlike some meal kits—including Sun Basket, HelloFresh, Marley Spoon, Home Chef, and Purple Carrot—Tovala handles every step of the meal prep process. Want to know how they truly compare? See how Tovala measures up against Blue Apron and HelloFresh.

Tovala chops, preps, and delivers healthy meals straight to your door, allowing you to enjoy a “home cooked” meal with just one minute of prep work. Like meal kit services, Tovala offers plans for a variety of dietary needs, including veggie plans, gluten-free meals, and meal options for picky eaters (like good ol’ grilled cheese!).

There are other reasons people choose Tovala over meal kit services. Tovala offers one-person plans, while competitors are portioned for two people. Best yet, all Tovala meals require less than one minute of prep time and are ready in under 20 minutes total.

For the Most Convenient Meal Delivery Option, Choose Tovala

HelloFresh vs. Blue Apron: Tovala meals cook in the Tovala Oven

Let’s face it: a “convenient” meal delivery option that takes 45 minutes to prepare (and another 20 minutes to cleanup afterward) is not our definition of convenient.

For a meal delivery option that delivers on its promise, choose Tovala. With Tovala, our chefs handle every part of the meal prep process, including grocery shopping, chopping, prep work, and assembly.

We ship nutritious, tasty meals directly to your doorstep. You simply have to unpack and scan the meal’s barcode on your Tovala Oven. Once the barcode is scanned (i.e. once you’ve done a whole minute of prep work) you can simply watch as your Tovala Oven cooks your meals on autopilot.

Plus, if you really feel like practicing your culinary skills, you can create your own meals in your Tovala Oven. Using the Tovala app, you can find lots of recipes to make at home. But unlike those meal delivery recipes, these recipes are truly easy, taking less than 10 minutes to prepare.

To conquer the adulting game, save tons of time in your workweek, and spare yourself a mountain of dishes, try Tovala—risk free.