Launched in 2017 and owned by Marley Spoon, Dinnerly offers a budget-friendly, no-frills option within the Meal Kit market in Australia. I’ve been excited to test Dinnerly for a while now because the low cost per portion (as low as $5.25) is really compelling for people working to a budget or feeding a large family. However, this leaves me with plenty of doubts about the ingredient quality and portion size. This Dinnerly review aims to discover whether they provide a good value option or if it’s worth spending the extra money for other meal kits.
Dinnerly Meal Kit Review
Dinnerly manages to deliver a strong value proposition based on simple recipes and quality ingredients, these boxes are perfect for anyone looking to save a few dollars.
Ordering - Website - 7/10
Food - Quality - 7.5/10
Ordering - Meal Choice - 5/10
Food - Taste - 7/10
Ordering - Delivery - 7/10
Value For Money - 9/10
- Great value for money.
- Doesn’t compromise on ingredient quality.
- Good weekly recipe variety.
- Recipes can be difficult to follow.
- Portion sizes are quite variable.
- Requires you to keep a large stock of staple ingredients.
Dinnerly offers either a 2 or 4 person box with between 3 and 5 meals per week, which is quite limited compared to their competition. You can opt to make your box vegetarian though your options then get extremely limited – there were just 5 vegetarian meals available on the week I tested along with 9 additional ‘meat’ meals.
There are two major differences between Dinnerly and other meal kits on the market. Firstly, they don’t provide any physical recipe cards so you need to rely on the online recipe. Secondly, they don’t provide certain staple pantry ingredients such as Soy Sauce, Vinegar, Garlic etc. so you will need to venture out to the supermarket in order to make your meals.
- 1 Getting Started with Dinnerly
- 2 Meal Options Available
- 3 Delivery Options
- 4 How much does Dinnerly cost?
- 5 Nutritional Analysis
- 6 My Dinnerly Review Box
- 7 How’s The Food?
- 8 A Qualified Nutritionist’s HelloFresh Review
- 9 Anything Else?
- 10 Australian Meal Kit Survey 2021
- 11 My Overall Thoughts
- 12 Competitor Discounts
- 13 Frequently Asked Questions
Getting Started with Dinnerly
Signing up with Dinnerly was a breeze, selecting either the two-person or family box and how many meals to receive. Entering your address and payment details completes the first order – you can then edit your meal choices up to 7 days before your delivery day. You can set your preferences up to 4 weeks ahead so it’s super easy to plan your meals. Dinnerly even ask for your flavour preferences so the site can suggest default meals. This means that even if you forget to choose your meals, you’re quite likely to get food you’ll like!
You can preview the menu for the next 4 weeks on their website before you order. This might help you get a sense of whether you’ll like the food on offer.
Meal Options Available
It’s important to set your expectations with Dinnerly food as their meals generally only have 6 or 7 ingredients. As such, they are limited to fairly simple dishes and this really shows with the meal options available. I think this aligns Dinnerly with dishes that you would cook up normally at home rather than some of the more expansive, experimental dishes offered by their competitors.
Some of the options available when I ordered included:
- Veggie Risotto
- Mongolian Lamb Stir Fry
- Spanish Beef Meatballs
- Chicken & Veggie Soup
Most of these meals were gluten-free (with minor adjustments) and Dinnerly make it clear which meals were vegetarian. However Dinnerly doesn’t specifically cater for any other groups with intolerances or allergies. The ingredients of each dish are made very clear so you can organise your meals around your requirements and make substitutions where necessary.
I was very impressed by the range of meals on offer with Dinnerly. Although these were very simple dishes, you could easily go a few months without having a repeating meal. This is likely a direct result of the large supply chain they have access to with their owners at Marley Spoon.
Dinnerly has the ability to deliver almost anywhere in Australia (WA aside, sorry!) with a much wider range than most other food boxes. They charge $8.95 per delivery which I think is a little steep considering their boxes only cost under $80. This is in line with competitors though and means that Dinnerly still comes in far cheaper than anyone else.
You need to have confirmed your order 7 days in advance, which is quite a long time. Fortunately, this can be done 4 weeks in advance so it’s not too difficult.
How much does Dinnerly cost?
This is where Dinnerly really excels. I compared the prices for all meal kits across Australia and they come in at a significantly lower price than any other options. You’re able to get 5 meals for a family of 4 (that’s 20 portions) for just $113.15.
$5.25 per portion!
This makes it genuinely affordable for a vast majority of Australians and can really compete with purchasing the ingredients yourself.
However, there is a hidden cost to consider (aside from the delivery fee). That’s the requirement to buy your own additional ingredients. These range from white wine vinegar to garlic/ginger to barbecue sauce. Whilst these ingredients have a low cost per portion, you often need to buy a whole bottle which you may not end up using. Even with these additional costs, Dinnerly are still by far the cheapest meal kit available (alongside EveryPlate), they just require an extra bit of planning/storage.
Researchers at the University of Sydney have analysed the nutritional qualities of the biggest Australian meal kit subscription services, with the summarised results published below with permission from the original authors.
All values are ‘per each recommended individual serving’.
|Dinnerly||HelloFresh||Marley Spoon||Pepper Leaf|
|Food Groups (no. of serves)|
|Total fat (g)||34.8||53.4||30.3||32.2|
This table shows that Dinnerly doesn’t compromise on portion sizes for the price, the amount of meat/vegetable you receive is comparable to every other service. Where Dinnerly is let down slightly, is the amount of sugar in their recipes. Fortunately, it’s often very easy to adjust recipes to keep the sugar content down.
Digging into the research, Dinnerly was highly praised for the percentage of grain servings that came from whole grains (60%). If you’re trying to increase the amount of whole grain in your diet, Dinnerly is a great option for you.
Thanks to Dr Alice Gibson and Dr Stephanie R Partridge of the University of Sydney for their research. If you want to read their paper, it can be found in the Nutrients journal.
My Dinnerly Review Box
My box arrived in the morning and was left on my front porch. I like the branding on these boxes, which include step-by-step instructions on what to do once you receive your box. The ingredients are packed separately, minimising the use of plastics where possible (e.g carrots), with the meats/cold items coming in a separate insulated compartment at the bottom of the box including a large ice block.
All the ingredients looked fresh and appealing, arriving in the right quantities. I was also pleasantly surprised to see the stock cubes were gluten-free – this is a really thoughtful and welcome touch to help cater for a wider range of people.
How’s The Food?
I was impressed by the flavour Dinnerly are able to create with such few ingredients, presenting multiple tasty meals that I would happily cook again. Often, the flavour comes from a spice packet or homemade sauce which is a solid base for cooking any recipe. This is a real positive because it means you don’t need to compromise on flavour with a lower cost option.
I also found that the quality of meat and vegetables was reasonably high, including a free-range chicken breast. There were no issues with food going off too quickly either, all ingredients lasting until the day that I cooked with them.
However, there were a couple of issues:
- Quantity – Even just within the box that we tested, there was significant variation in the portion size and how full each meal left me feeling. It gives the distinct impression that Dinnerly have a specific cost/dish that they budget for and they stop at the cost regardless of portion size. Ultimately, this can leave you disappointed.
- Recipe Clarity – This is really disappointing, as there is no cost saving associated with presenting difficult to follow recipes. I found that there were multiple occasions where you couldn’t understand if the recipe was referring to 1 or 2 portions, plus some strange ordering of instructions led to things being ready too soon or too late. This could easily be massively improved.
Ultimately, any home cook with moderate ability will be able to understand the recipe and cook from basic principles without much trouble. However, this might challenge some newer cooks who would want some clearer guidance.
You can check out my thoughts on each specific dish through my Instagram page.
Dishes We Loved
- Chicken & Veggie Stew
- Mongolian Lamb Stir-Fry
Dishes We Wouldn’t Recommend
- Spanish Beef Meatballs (Small Portion)
A Qualified Nutritionist’s HelloFresh Review
The dissapointing nutritional aspects of Dinnerly are the high sodium, saturated fat content and energy-dense meals. On average, you’ll find around 853mg of sodium per meal compared to the recommended amount of <500mg. There’s also more than 50% of the recommended amount of saturated fat for your main meal of the day (9.6g vs >6g).
Additionally, the meals are nearly 300kcals above the recommended amount for what an average Australian adult requires (853kcal vs ~500kcal). This is equivalent to a large snack, so you could adust the rest of your daily food to account for having a larger dinner.
Fibre is very important for a healthy diet and Dinnerly ticks the box here, providing 10.7g per serve!! The meals also contain 2.6 serves of vegetables on average, which contributes to our daily 5 serves per day. This is a big win in my book as most Australians don’t reach the recommended number of serves of vegetables and having half at dinner can be a great help.
To make Dinnerly a bit healthier I would try to use less salt when cooking and opt for salt-reduced pantry items like salt-reduced soy sauce.
With the primary selling point of Dinnerly being price, I wanted to see if it actually provided value versus purchasing the ingredients yourself. For this, I’m going to take 2 recipes – Chicken & Veggie Stew and Spanish Beef Meatballs. The following tables present the ingredients and their associated costs (2 portions) when purchased from Woolworths.
Chicken & Veggie Stew Cost Comparison
|Ingredient||Cost at Woolworths ($)||Dinnerly Cost ($)|
|2 Chicken Stock Cubes||0.28||Included|
|125g Brown Rice||0.31||Included|
|1 Large Free-Range Chicken Breast||3.50||Included|
|1 Bunch Pak Choy||2.50||Included|
|1 Sweet Potato||1.25||Included|
Spanish Beef Meatballs Cost Comparison
|Ingredient||Cost at Woolworths ($)||Dinnerly Cost ($)|
|70g Mixed Salad Leaves||1.15||Included|
|100g Greek-style Yoghurt||0.76||Included|
|5g Spanish Spice Blend||0.15||Included|
|1 Red Onion||0.53||Included|
|250g Butternut Pumpkin||1.25||Included|
Whilst this is a very low sample size and ingredient costs can change significantly by location or quantity, this research suggests that Dinnerly costs an extra $2.90 per portion than purchasing ingredients yourself. That’s arguably a very small price to pay for the convenience and variety you get with a meal kit.
As Dinnerly don’t provide recipe cards, they ask that you follow recipes either in the browser or on their app. I wanted to give their app a twirl so downloaded it to my iPad and followed all the recipes from there. I would rate the app as ‘usable’ based on it providing readable recipes but not doing it very well. Firstly, the app doesn’t have a horizontal mode so it forces you to use it vertically – this makes sense on a phone but much less so on a tablet. Secondly, the recipes have incredibly large, useless drawings meaning you’re constantly having to scroll up and down with mucky hands.
I was also left disappointed with the amount of nutritional information provided with the meals, only providing Energy, Fat, Carbs and Protein. This isn’t really enough in this day and age to help people manage their diets properly. I hope Dinnerly can improve their nutritional details soon.
Australian Meal Kit Survey 2021
Dinnerly was the winner of 2 categories in our recent independent survey of meal kit users in Australia. They deservedly won the best delivery service, which backs up our research as they offer the widest delivery range at the cheapest cost. This definitely also contributed to winning the best ‘value for money’ meal kit, narrowly edging out EveryPlate.
My Overall Thoughts
I’ve given Dinnerly an overall rating of 6.9 which I think is a fair representation of the overall experience based on simple meals, the need to buy additional ingredients and the relatively poor instructions. However, it’s important to recognise that I also think Dinnerly does a fantastic job of providing incredible value with their Meal Kits. I would wholeheartedly recommend Dinnerly to anyone who’s looking to save money whilst still eating fresh, nutritious meals. With such a low cost per portion, these meals will help anyone stick to a budget along with discovering new foods, ingredients and cooking techniques.
Have you already tried Dinnerly? What did you think of their low-cost meal kits? Let me know in the comments section below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Dinnerly a good service?
Dinnerly is definitely a budget service, offering simple meals that are quick and easy to cook. It’s perfect for families, anybody on a budget or people who don’t enjoy spending hours cooking. You won’t get restaurant-quality food, but that’s ok! They call themselves the most affordable meal delivery service but have recently been topped by EveryPlate who offer slightly cheaper meals.
How is Dinnerly so cheap?
I get asked this question so often, I wrote a full post explaining all the ways Dinnerly cut back on the service to make it more affordable. It boils down to using fewer ingredients, getting rid of extras like paper recipes and offering less variety. This allows them to be half the price of other meal kit providers such as HelloFresh.
Is Dinnerly owned by Marley Spoon?
Yes! Dinnerly is the budget service provided by Marley Spoon. They’re around 35% cheaper but most of the ingredients are sourced from the same place. Check out my full comparison of Marley Spoon vs Dinnerly to find out more.
Can you lose weight on Dinnerly?
It is definitely possible to lose weight on Dinnerly, with meals having around 700 calories on average. To effectively lose weight, Dinnerly meals need to be part of a balanced diet and exercise routine. If you really want to lose weight, you could also explore services like Lite n Easy and Chefgood that deliver calorie-controlled ready meals.