Why is Dinnerly so cheap?

Why is Dinnerly so cheap? Healthy food at $5 per portion

In my analysis of the ‘Cheapest Meal Kits‘, Dinnerly came out far ahead of the pack. With Dinnerly, you’re saving over 20% compared to Hello Fresh or Marley Spoon. That’s potentially a massive $2,000 saving for a family of 4 each year.

In fact, you’re able to buy Dinnerly meals for less than $5 per portion. That’s going to compete with any supermarket shop you do.

A lot of people have come to me and asked how Dinnerly can provide their meal kit delivery so cheaply. So, I wanted to shed some light on the ways they are able to pass on cost savings to customers.

How is Dinnerly so cheap?

From my experience of being a Dinnerly customer, I have identified 3 key reasons for their low price point:

  1. Lack of physical recipe cards and reduced packaging.
  2. Simpler meals that require fewer ingredients.
  3. Limited staple ingredients provided.

In this article, I’m going to review the impact of each of those key cost-saving measures and talk about any impact on Quality and Taste (skip to).

No recipe cards and reduced packaging

There’s pretty much two reasons stuck into one here, however they both impact what’s sent with the ingredients in your delivery box.

Dinnerly don’t provide any recipe cards in their delivery boxes. Instead, you’re asked to use their online recipe cards either through a web browser or their mobile app. This is a big thumbs up from me because it’s a massive improvement on the environmental impact. I have tonnes of recipe cards stacking up in my house that are all available online anyway!

However, it’s also a bit of a practical nightmare. We all know that messy kitchens, grubby fingers and electrical devices aren’t the best of friends. Having to constantly wash/dry my hands to scroll through the recipe was a real source of frustration for me. Fortunately, the recipes are quite simple so you don’t need to refer back to them too much.

A lot of Dinnerly users end up printing out the recipes anyway, which really negates that environmental benefit. If this works for you though, it’s definitely a good idea.

Dinnerly Example Recipe

When your box arrives, you also quickly notice that there is no packaging keeping ingredients together. Each individual ingredient is packaged appropriately, so there’s no impact on the freshness of your ingredients, which is great. I’m referring to the packaging that keeps ingredients for the same meal together.

Honestly, I prefer for the ingredients to come without the extra packaging. I always unpack and check my ingredients when my box arrives anyway, with the extra packaging just getting in the way. It does take a bit of extra work to match the ingredient to the recipe, but I think that’s a small price to pay.

Marley Spoon Box vs Dinnerly Box
This compares a Marley Spoon Box (left) with a Dinnerly Box (right) as they arrive

Simpler meals

Dinnerly only ever send a maximum of 7 ingredients in each recipe. In fact, I did a comparison between the 3 major meal kit providers and you can clearly see that they send far fewer ingredients out.

DinnerlyHello FreshMarley Spoon
Average Ingredients6.2511.899.78
Minimum Ingredients697
Maximum Ingredients71513

That’s nearly half the ingredients that Hello Fresh send out on average!

Now, I want to add the caveat that ‘number of ingredients’ is a very blunt measure of any form of value. Much of the additional ingredients that Hello Fresh sends are the smaller/lower value ingredients that we discuss in section 3 of this article.

However, it’s certainly indicative of Dinnerly offering simpler meals that require fewer ingredients.

This becomes abundantly obvious when we review the list of recipes available for a random week in the Dinnerly calendar. I have copied out a sample below:

  • Hoisin Beef with Rice
  • Beef Ravioli
  • Chorizo Bruschetta
  • Herbed Chicken with Potato
  • Chicken and Pear Salad
  • Chicken Mee Goreng
  • Sweet Potato and Veggie Hash
  • Haloumi and Basil Pesto Pasta
  • Curried Pork and Spinach Pie
  • Harissa Chicken with Couscous
  • Teriyaki Chicken with Rice
  • Cauliflower and Potato Tray Bake

They generally fit into one of two categories – Meat, Spice & Carb or One-Pot.

Is this a bad thing?

I really do not think so. Think of the most homely, enjoyable dishes that you make at home and they are normally very simple. Recipes do not need to be complex, with lots of ingredients, to make a super tasty and filling meal.

From my testing, Dinnerly meals do struggle to provide the same depth and explosion of flavour that Marley Spoon & Hello Fresh can provide. However, that didn’t stop them from being very enjoyable. It all comes down to personal preference.

Fewer staple ingredients

One of the reasons that Dinnerly can keep the number of ingredients down to a minimum, is because they don’t provide any ‘staple ingredients’. What does that even mean?

Staple ingredients is a very generic phrase, but it refers to an ingredient that could reasonably be found in a well-stocked pantry. It’s easy to include things like Garlic, Oil, Flour, Salt and Pepper in this list. Totally reasonable!

However, Dinnerly push the definition of a staple ingredient quite far and it really includes anything you can buy in bulk and store for more than a few weeks. This way, they can justify asking you to provide the ingredient themselves.

Let’s see what staple ingredients that ask for across all the recipes in a random week:

  • Vegetable Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • Garlic
  • White Vinegar
  • Butter
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Honey
  • Milk
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Egg
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sugar
  • Tomato Paste
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Barbecue Sauce
  • Chilli Flakes

Of course, you won’t need all of these ingredients every week. It really depends on your meal choices. However, you do need to think ahead a little bit more and make sure you have these ingredients in the house when you need them for a recipe.

For some people, this is great. It’s all ingredients that are in their kitchen already.

For some people, myself included, this is frustrating. I’ve managed to forget ingredients a few times and have to make a last-minute dash to the shops.

Whether you see the lack of staple ingredients as important will depend on what category you fit into! It’s definitely helpful for Dinnerly to keep costs down.

Is quality or taste impacted by cost-saving?

We all care about the quality of our ingredients, especially when we’re cooking for our loved ones. It’s important not to feel like you’re going for the ‘low quality’ option when it comes to food.

Fortunately, ingredient quality is not an area of concern with Dinnerly.

That’s because Dinnerly is actually owned by Marley Spoon and they use the exact same suppliers. So, you’re getting exactly the same quality ingredients as more premium food delivery services. That’s a big plus point for Dinnerly!

Having cooked hundreds of meal kit dinners, I feel that the ingredient quality with Dinnerly is absolutely on par with the other major meal kit delivery services.

Because Dinnerly provides quality ingredients, their meals really do taste great!

I really found Dinnerly meals to be simple, home cooking. With the minimal ingredients used, don’t expect restaurant-quality dishes that blow you away. Instead, you’re going to get tasty midweek meals and that’s good enough for me.

If you want to know more of my thoughts about Dinnerly, check out my Dinnerly Review.

Alternatively, I’ve also compared Dinnerly to both Hello Fresh and Dinnerly. You can check those out below:

Check out Dinnerly with a $145 discountGet up to $145 off across your first 5 boxes with our unique discount link

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