Via Business Insider

Meal kit services are all well and good until you make your way to the stove. Because let’s face it — even if you’re being provided with ingredients, recipes, and step-by-step directions, a box full of pre-cut vegetables and pre-portioned proteins does not a great chef make.

While meal kits cut down on the amount of shopping and planning you have to do for dinner, they don’t actually cut down on the amount of time you have to spend in front of your burners of your oven. And that, my friends, is why I present to you not meal kits, but delivered meals.

It is a subtle difference, you see, but a key one to be sure. Meal delivery services don’t send you ingredients on ice — instead, they send you entire dinners or lunches or breakfasts on ice. And rest assured, this is not your mother’s frozen TV dinner. The meal delivery services of 2019 are healthy, delicious, and surprisingly creative. So whether you’re pressed for time, exhausted, or simply not a genius in the kitchen, these services may be your saving grace.

When picking your meal delivery service, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. First and foremost, what type of meals are you looking for? If you’re a fan of smoothies for dinner, you may want to look to a different provider than if you tend to have your biggest meal at the end of the day.

Second, you’ll want to keep any dietary restrictions in mind. Luckily, just like meal kit offerings, many meal delivery services can cater to a wide range of restrictions, whether that’s vegan, paleo, or something in between.

Also think about exactly how much effort you’re willing to put into making your meal. While some services will send you microwave-ready meals, others may require a spin in the blender, or perhaps some time in boiling water. Of course, all are easy, but some are admittedly easier than others.

Finally, price points should come into consideration. There can be a pretty wide range in price tags based on ingredients, dietary restrictions, and the like, so if you’re looking to save calories andmoney, you’ll want to choose carefully.

No matter which of our favorite meal delivery services you choose, we’re sure you’ll have many delicious meals to look forward to.

Here are the best meal delivery services we’ve tried:

Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

The best meal delivery service overall

The best meal delivery service overallDaily Harvest

Why you’ll love it: Daily Harvest offers a wide range of meal options that are easily portable, super delicious, and extremely healthy.

For breakfast, lunch, and yes, even dinner in a cup, Daily Harvest is here to provide. The company that started out being all about smoothies, chia puddings, and soups has now expanded its reach and is offering more substantive victuals as well, what with its newly introduced harvest bowls and the occasional cookie.

No matter what you get from Daily Harvest, you’ll get foods that can be easily thawed, blended, or heated in order to provide you with the superfoods and sustenance that you need to brighten up your day.

The new harvest bowls are some of my favorite additions to the mix, and as ever, they’re made of plant-based ingredients including quinoa, kale, lentils, and of course, vegetables. They come in the same cup containers that you’ve come to know and love from Daily Harvest, and can still be prepared in a snap — if you’re really in a rush, just pop the whole cup in the microwave. If you’re feeling a bit less stressed for time, you could even go so far as to heat the contents of the cup on your stove (the recommended preparation) before popping it back into the original container for an on-the-go meal.

I’m particularly fond of the Brussel Sprouts + Lime Pad Thai, though the Broccoli + Cheeze (made with nutritional yeast rather than dairy) is also delicious. While you may think, at first blush, that the contents of a single Daily Harvest cup won’t be enough to satiate your appetite, you may be surprised. It’s true that its offerings don’t look like much in terms of volume, but they are surprisingly filling.

That said, you can always supplement your cups with some additional ingredients, or even with a bed of rice or pasta. Plus, now that there are a total of 12 harvest bowl options, you could always mix and match a couple cups for a bigger meal.

Daily Harvest ingredients are picked at peak freshness and flash-frozen to preserve farm-fresh nutrient density and flavor without leaning on preservatives or added sugar. Although it’s not the cheapest option in the world, it is extremely convenient, and a great favorite among folks at Business Insider.

Pros: Delicious and nutritious, wide range of flavors and options, extremely easy to prepare, portable

Cons: Not the cheapest option; smaller portion sizes

Shop Daily Harvest Harvest Bowls here

The best vegan meal delivery service

The best vegan meal delivery serviceVeestro

Why you’ll love it: For the vegans among us, the best option for prepared meals decidedly come from Veestro.

Just because you’re eating frozen food doesn’t mean that you’re heating up greasy microwave dinners as you sit in front of the television and live out every negative stereotype on the planet. Instead, live your best vegan life and make health conscious and delicious choices with Veestro.

Veestro is a meal delivery service that makes it easy to get more plant-based foods into your diet without sacrificing taste or convenience. The company sends fully prepared 100% plant-based meals to your door.

All meals are preservative-free and organic (96% of all ingredients used), and the recipes are created by a vegan chef with 30 years of knowledge to fall back on. Don’t worry about prepping ingredients — Veestro doesn’t need you to do any heavy lifting. While I’d certainly recommend that you fire up your stovetop or preheat your oven for best results, you can just as easily throw these meals in the microwave if you really don’t feel like cooking.

There are plenty of ways to interact with Veestro. You can pick and choose from 50 meals all priced starting at $10, like baked mac and “cheese,” Tuscan calzone, portobello steak, and quinoa soup. Or, you can opt for meal packs, like an introductory starter pack, protein pack, and gluten-free option. These start at $8 per meal. Then there are also juices and various weight loss plans, all of which are 100% plant-based.

While frozen food normally incorporates artificial ingredients and preservatives, that’s simply not the case with Veestro. The red curry is pretty awesome, and honestly, I could’ve eaten the enchiladas for days. Particularly noteworthy are the company’s sauces, which look particularly unappetizing when they arrive frozen solid, but become surprisingly delicious once you drop the packages in hot water. Really, they make the meal.

At $8 to $10 per meal, Veestro is about comparable (if not cheaper) than meal kits, and you get the added convenience and freedom to concentrate on other parts of your life while still enjoying healthy, tasty food.

Pros: Healthy, extremely easy to make, 100% plant-based and a great way to get your vegetables

Cons: At the end of the day, if you’re not a fan of frozen food, this may not be the meal for you

Check out all of Veestro’s meals for $8 to $10

The best complete meal delivery service

The best complete meal delivery serviceSakara Life

Why you’ll love it: If you want breakfast, lunch, and dinner taken care of, Sakara Life to the rescue.

Eating like a model may not be as miserable as it sounds. Expensive? Sure. Bland? Absolutely not. That is, if you have Sakara Life in your kitchen.

Let’s not beat around the bush here — Sakara Life is expensive. In some cases, prohibitively expensive. Three days of meals will cost you at least $239, while five days jumps up to $420. If you want 20 days, you’ll have to pay $1,680. That means that at the very least, you’re paying upwards of $80 a day for your meals. If you’re already living in a big city and eating out for every meal, that may be comparable. But if you’re grocery shopping, let’s be honest — this is by no means saving you money.

But what Sakara Life is saving you is time. More importantly, this brand may just be giving you the gift of life — at least, an extended version of it. That’s because all of Sakara Life’s meals are not only delicious, but completely plant-based and packed with superfoods.

When you sign up with the service, you’re effectively signing up for a whole new lifestyle. You see, Sakara Life isn’t just sending you a frozen dinner — instead, you’ll receive an entire day’s (or multiple days) worth of meals, complete with drinks and snacks.

Included in your plan could be things like a Sakara Cobb Salad with coconut “bacon,” which is really seed-crusted avocado; Butternut Squash and Mushroom Lasagna; or Golden Pineapple Un-Fried Rice with tempeh and red cabbage. All entrees are nutritious and surprisingly filling thanks to their healthy servings of protein.

For breakfast, you might find a Superfood Shot Breakfast Bowl with blueberries and nuts, or a Sacha Inchi Pumpkin Scone with Apple Butter. All meals are packaged in order to stay fresh for the days in which you’re meant to eat them, and do a great job of keeping the fresh vegetables crisp and vibrant.

Ultimately, if you’re short on time and long on money, then Sakara Life is likely the best option around.

Pros: Extremely healthy, plant-based meals, surprisingly delicious food, thoughtful packaging

Cons: Incredibly expensive

Check out Sakara Life here

The best meal-in-a-box delivery service

The best meal-in-a-box delivery serviceBanza

Why you’ll love it: If you’re too tired to cook but not tired enough to just throw something in the microwave, Banza may just serve as a happy medium with its chickpea-based pasta.

If ever I’m in an anti-cooking mood, it’s not the microwave I gravitate toward, but rather my boxes of macaroni and cheese. While there are plenty of brands that offer easy versions of the ultimate comfort food that will make you immediately regret your decision once you’ve licked the last of that fake cheese off the spoon, Banza is not one of those brands. In fact, this chickpea pasta purveyor just may be my very favorite mac and cheese brand, and I’m only too glad that I’ve discovered them.

Chickpea pasta may not be in everyone’s pantry (yet), but it really ought to be. Not only is this pasta for the gluten-intolerant among us, but it’s also high in fiber and high in protein, making it more filling than the regular wheat-based stuff. While you could always make your classic pasta preparations with Banza pasta, one of the best (and easiest) in my book comes in the form of the brand’s mac and cheese offering.

Making this dish is about as easy as it gets. If you can boil water, you can make yourself a delicious and nutritious meal. Simply pour the box of pasta into a box of boiling water, wait a few minutes until the shells reach your desired level of al dente doneness, and then mix in the cheese flavoring with salt and pepper to taste, as well as some milk. And voila — you’re ready to go.

The chickpea pasta dosn’t taste any different from the elbow pasta you grew up loving, but is certainly healthier. And I’m a huge fan of the cheese sauce, too.

Banza also offers a wide range of other pasta options for quick and easy weeknight meals, all of which are extremely affordable. So if you’re not interested in pulling out all the stops but still want to spend some time in your kitchen, this mac and cheese may just be the way to go.

Pros: Delicious and nutritious, affordable, extremely easy to make, easy to dress up

Cons: Some customers aren’t a fan of chickpea pasta’s texture

Buy a 6-pack of Banza mac and cheese on Amazon for $29.94

The best meal kit delivery service

The best meal kit delivery serviceHungryroot

Why you’ll love it: If you’re not so sure about meal delivery services but are in love with meal kits, the offerings from Hungryroot may just be the first step you need to become a convert.

There’s something beguiling about meal kits. What with their pre-portioned vegetables, their well-sized proteins, and their packaged sauces, it’s almost like having a sous chef backstage. Of course, it makes cooking a breeze, too, even if you don’t generally consider yourself a chef. But as wonderful as meal kits are, they still require some amount of preparation, some amount of standing over a stove, or some amount of preheating an oven. That is, unless you have Hungryroot.

I like to think of Hungryroot as inhabiting the space somewhere between a meal kit and a meal delivery service. The subscription-based company sends healthy, almost-ready meals to your door. All you need to do is heat things up and mix them together. That means that instead of having dinner ready in 25 minutes, as you might with a meal kit, you can have dinner ready in about five minutes (if you’re super efficient). With servings costing around $6 to $7, this is also a pretty budget-friendly option.

All of Hungryroot’s options are 100% vegan and gluten-free, making them perfect for just about any dietary restriction. But don’t worry, meat eaters — even though these meals are appropriate for herbivores, they’re still delicious enough to fool even the most dedicated carnivore. Plus, thanks to the cornucopia of nutrients, complex carbohydrates (like sweet potatoes, cauliflower, quinoa, beans, and oats), and healthy fats (like olive oil, coconut oil, cashews, almonds, and avocados), you’ll stay full for quite a long time.

Your menu could include things like Southwestern Quinoa Tofu Scramble, Green Goddess Lentil Salad, Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Tagine, Kohlrabi Peanut Takeout Noodles, Pad Thai Fried Rice, and desserts like Black Bean Brownie Batter or Almond Chickpea Cookie Dough. All are surprisingly easy to make, and if you really want to include some meat, you can always swap out the included proteins for your own. While servings may seem small at first blush, I was pleasantly surprised to find how filling they really were (not to mention how tasty).

Even if you have just 10 minutes to spare every night, you can still make yourself a delicious almost-homemade meal.

Pros: Easy to prepare (without depending on a microwave), delicious, plant-based and healthy, wide selection of meals

Cons: Some folks may want larger portions or meatier proteins