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Meal-kit delivery services are expensive. Dinnerly is not. This meal-kit service uses inexpensive ingredients and other cost-cutting measures to keep the price at $4.99 per serving or less. That’s about half as much as other kits, but you get what you pay for. Dinnerly’s menu sticks to well-known staples rather than enticing your palate with more creative dishes. And if you’re an inexperienced cook, you may find the recipes hard to follow, especially because they don’t have pictures to show you how the food should look. If you want the convenience of a meal kit to make simple meals, Dinnerly provides that. It won’t wow you, though, nor will it leave you craving its recipes.

Our Editors’ Choices in this category provide a more enticing experience. Blue Apron is our top pick for people who want to learn to cook. If you already know how to cook and want healthier options, Green Chef is our top choice. It sends you meal kits that are plant-forward and cater to vegetarian, paleo, and keto diets. HelloFresh is another favorite for all-around excellent menus and quality. One final Editors’ Choice is Hungryroot, an unconventional service that picks groceries for you based on your eating preferences and suggested recipes for some of the items.

Dinnerly tacquitos

Dinnerly Pricing and Plans

Dinnerly is the lowest-priced meal kit delivery service we’ve tried, right next to EveryPlate. Dinner charges between $4.29 and $4.99 per serving, whereas EveryPlate is always $4.99 per serving. With Dinnerly, the more portions you order, the lower the price. You can get between three and six meals per week, and each meal can contain two or four portions. 

The smallest kit is three meals per week for two people, which costs $4.99 per serving. Tack on $8.99 for shipping, and you’re looking at a total of $38.93 per week, taxes not included.

The largest kit contains six meals per week for four people at $4.29 per serving. With the same $8.99 shipping fee, it comes out to $111.95 per week.

Dinnerly pricing screen

When you sign up, you’re authorizing Dinnerly to send you meals each week, and thus charge your credit or debit card weekly. At any time, you can skip a week or put your account on hold. This is a standard practice among meal kit services.

Dinnerly keeps its prices low in a few ways. For starters, the meals use low-cost ingredients, like pasta, Roma tomatoes, nonorganic meats, and so forth. Second, it doesn’t include recipe cards. You must open the recipe online to see it. These recipes don’t include step-by-step pictures (keeping that photo shoot budget low, presumably), which is something other services typically provide.

Additionally, Dinner doesn’t always measure out ingredients. You might get a head of garlic when a recipe only calls for three cloves, or a full can of beans when all you need is half. Dinnerly doesn’t sort ingredients by recipe, either. Other kits put all the ingredients for each recipe into a paper or plastic bag and label it. Dinnerly’s method of piling everything into the box can cause some confusion; that’s explained in more detail in the section on cooking and eating.

While most meal kits ask you to supply salt, pepper, and olive oil, Dinnerly might also want you to have a couple of eggs on hand or some other key ingredient. That particular cost-cutting measure can lead to frustration if you don’t read each recipe closely in advance.

How Much Do Other Meal-Kit Services Cost?

Most meal-kit subscription services cost between $9.99 and $12.99 per serving. Dinnerly is the lowest priced option I’ve seen. Although you might end up paying $4.29 per serving, that only happens if you buy a lot of servings at once. A more modest order will keep the bill at $4.99 per serving, which is the same that EveryPlate charges. 

Other services charge a bit more, but there are noticeable differences. 1) The quality of the food is higher. 2) You get recipe cards with instructions. 3) Ingredients are typically measured out for each recipe. 4) And all ingredients for one recipe are packed into one bag.

Blue Apron costs between $7.49 and $9.99 per serving, and shipping is free for all but the smallest orders. HelloFresh and Green Chef charge between $9.99 and $12.99 per serving, depending on how much food you order. Both charge a $7.99 shipping fee, too. Many meal kit services waive the shipping fee on your first order.

Purple Carrot, a vegan service, charges $8.99 to $10.99 per serving. Sun Basket costs more at $10.99 to $12.99 per serving.

Most of the meal services I’ve mentioned so far ship a minimum of two servings per recipe. So what do you do if you’re single? Single-serve meals are available, though the companies making them tend to offer ready meals rather than cooking kits. Freshly ($7.99-$11.50), Splendid Spoon ($9.50-$13), and Daily Harvest ($6.99-$7.75) are all good examples. 

Dinnerly Greek chicken rice

Dinnerly has a very simple meat-and-potatoes kind of menu. Each week’s plates steer toward pasta in sauce, chicken and veg, burger and chips, tacos, or enchiladas—meals that line up with what you might find at an American family restaurant. You’re not going to find ancient grains, apricot glazes, caper sauces, or anything of that nature. If you and your dining companions have a taste for ravioli or chicken with mashed potatoes, Dinnerly will probably appeal to you.

A few representative meals are: Tex-Mex stuffed cheeseburger with oven fries, BBQ chicken and broccoli with one-pot cheesy macaroni, skillet chicken enchiladas with cheese and scallions. Asian-inspired meals show up, too. You might see steak fried rice with green beans and scallions, as an example, or sweet soy-glazed chicken with vegetable fried rice. 

Vegetarian options are available each week, but not in abundance. If you are vegetarian, you probably will struggle with this plan. Green Chef is great for vegetarians; vegans can look at Purple Carrot, which is all vegan, and Hungryroot, which has a fully vegan option.

Dinnerly often tosses in a dessert that you can order instead of a meal. You can also choose so-called protein packs, which are individual portions of meat or fish instead of a complete meal. Other companies let you select non-meal items or add on extras, too, including Sun Basket, Martha and Marley Spoon, and Blue Apron. Blue Apron also sells wine and kitchen equipment.

When you browse the Dinnerly menu, tags tell you if the meal contains meat, fish, or is vegetarian, as well as if it’s kid-friendly, low-calorie, a one-pot meal, and so forth. You have to click on the preview to open the recipe in full to see the list of allergens, however. We prefer them to be visible from the browsing page. While you always see if a Dinnerly meal contains dairy, gluten, soy, and other allergens, the facility where the meals are made also processes those ingredients, so people with severe allergies might be better off avoiding the service altogether. Additionally, Dinner notes that sometimes they must make a last-minute ingredient swap, in which case you may end up with something you can’t eat. You can always reach out to customer service if that happens, although it’s a bummer in the moment.

Dinnerly packaging

Dinnerly’s Packaging

No meal kit delivery service is going to win an ecological award for packaging. Some are less bad than others, but none are great.

Dinnerly’s packaging is average. All the ingredients are in one box. Many items are in plastic bags except those that don’t need to be wrapped, like heads of garlic, limes, packets of cheese, and so forth. In my shipment, one tomato got dinged up by a freewheeling can of beans, which is a risk when trying to minimize packaging.

Our box used paper-based insulation and two gel freezer packs to keep the food cold. In the world of meal kits, nearly everyone uses gel freezer packs, and they’re a pain. They’re heavy-duty plastic bags holding a frozen, nontoxic, slow-melting gel. You can reuse them, but if you get meal kits on the regular, your freezer will be full within a few weeks. So you have to dispose of them. You’re not supposed to pour the melted gel down the drain, but rather dump it into a trash bag, and then rinse the leftover sack and recycle it. It’s a leaky and messy ordeal. 

There are a few companies that use dry ice instead, which simply evaporates, but that’s really only suitable for frozen foods. Daily Harvest, Splendid Spoon, and Ramen Hero all ship their items frozen and use dry ice.

Dinnerly ingredients spread

Cooking and Eating

To test Dinnerly, I got a delivery of three meals. The online process for choosing meals and putting the account on hold are simple and straightforward.

I received the box one day early, a Monday, and made the first recipe Wednesday. By then, the lone Roma tomato from the box had gone moldy on one side. If I had cooked with it Monday, I might have lopped off the top and called it a day, but by Wednesday half of that poor little tomato was a mushy mess. I chucked it and pulled a fresh tomato from my personal supply.

The ingredients for each meal aren’t grouped together, as mentioned before, and there are no printed recipe cards. While making the first meal, the recipe called to do something with “the cheese” and “the sour cream.” How much? It didn’t specify. I had two little snack-sized slabs of cheese and two packets of sour cream. I didn’t know if I should use them all for one recipe or if another recipe later in the week would call for some of them. The only solution was to open all three recipes online and see if any of them also called for cheese or sour cream. It was not an ideal experience.

I made refried bean and cheese taquitos, which were dull and lacking in flavor. They’re little more than refried beans and cheddar wrapped in a tortilla and made hot in the oven. In fact, after making the recipe, I took a few bites and decided to jazz up the meal with fresh jalapeño slices, extra cilantro, a squeeze of lime, diced avocado, chopped red onion, and lashings of hot sauce. It was better, but still very bean-heavy.

Next up was one-pot Green chicken and rice with spinach. This meal had a nice pop of brightness from some fresh lemon juice. I figured out how to make it easily enough, but less experienced cooks might struggle with Dinnerly’s instructions. All the recipes are exactly six steps, with no pictures. Sometimes, having more than six steps would make it easier to understand. Bullet points would make them easier to understand. There’s no reason to limit the recipe to a certain format or page dimension because they aren’t printed. It seems like Dinnerly keeps all its recipes at six steps to make them seem easier, when in fact they just get more confusing.

The serving size for this dish seemed a little small compared to what you typically get with other meal kits. My partner Tim ate the whole thing himself. I tasted the rice. It was very heavy with oregano, even though I was careful to measure out the right amount of it. The kit sent a larger pack of oregano than was needed for this recipe, so we had some extra. It also sent too much garlic, a whole head, which we had to split across a few recipes.

Dinnerly rice noodles

I saved a stir-fried curry rice noodle recipe for last. This noodle dish asks you to supply your own eggs to make an omelet, which feels like a major component of the meal. Similar to the taquitos, the final dish needed some love in the form of more vegetables (broccoli, mushrooms, scallions), herbs and spices (garlic, sambal oelek, mint, cilantro), and crunch (peanuts). The curry powder didn’t seem necessary. 

Would You Eat It Again?

In testing meal kit delivery services, we’ve had some memorable moments and meals, a stellar curried chickpea bowl from HelloFresh, a freebie two-pack of cookie dough from Gobble, and new ingredients we might not have otherwise tried from Hungryroot. Dinnerly, however, was unmemorable. Sure, the price is low, but we’d rather pay a little more for a better experience: higher quality ingredients, more interesting meals, items grouped into paper bags by recipe, and clearer recipe instructions. 

If you don’t want to pay a lot to get the benefits of a meal kit delivery service, then Dinnerly is a decent choice, although we would suggest looking at EveryPlate, too. It suffers from some of the same issues but does slightly better on a few fronts.

Dinnerly Specs

Price Per Serving $4.29 to $4.99
Shipping Fee $8.99
Vegan Options No
Vegetarian Options Yes
Paleo Options No
Pescetarian Options No
Gluten-free Options Yes
Dairy-free Options Yes

Best Meal Kit Picks

Dinnerly – Review 2020 – PCMag Australia
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