What is a Meal Kit Delivery Service? Definition and Guide

A ‘Meal Kit’ is any service that sends pre-portioned ingredients and recipes to customers, usually as a subscription service. This allows you to cook fresh, homemade meals without the stress/hassle of planning and purchasing ingredients from the supermarket.

With all meal kit services, the subscriber signs up to receive a specific amount of meals / portions per week. These plans are usually highly flexible, with the ability to change the recipes you order every single week, as well as cancel or skip your subscription at any time without facing a cancellation fee.

Here at Food Box Mate, we have a wide range of guides, comparisons and reviews of every meal kit in Australia to help you pick the one that’s best for you.

What is it like using a meal kit service?

If you haven’t experienced the excitement of using a meal kit service yet, then you might like to know what happens when you hit that ‘order’ button.

Starting your deliveries is incredibly easy as you just need to select the meal kit you want to try based on budget, meal options and taste. Once you know where to start (we actually recommend HelloFresh) then the first step is to decide how many meals you want to receive each week. This is split into meals (recipes) and portions. So, ordering 3 meals for 4 people per week will get you 12 servings. Then, it’s a simple job of choosing your favourite recipes to try and hitting that ‘order’ button.

Receiving your first box is one of the best feelings ever. You’ll receive all the core ingredients you need in an insulated box which can last outside for 4-8 hours (depending on the heat). Get these out of the box and store your ingredients away ready to try your first recipe. They often won’t send things like condiments, salt/pepper or milk so you’ll want to check your recipes beforehand to see if you need any store cupboard ingredients.

Cooking your first meal will get you to explore a new dish, new cooking techniques and potentially new ingredients. Follow the recipe cards (or digital recipe) as closely as possible to make sure things are properly cooked, although feel free to add/remove ingredients if you already know what you like. Check out my lentil dahl below (from EveryPlate) which was absolutely delicious!

Get the most out of your meal kit by checking out our 7 meal kit hacks. These clever hacks make sure you have the best dinners ever.

Lentil Dahl
My Lentil Dahl made from an EveryPlate meal kit.

A brief history of meal kits

The first meal kit service in the world was started in Sweden, called Middagsfrid. My Swedish is somewhat rusty, so I can’t tell you much about their service, but they started a worldwide revolution for an industry that’s expected to be worth 7.63 billion USD by 2025. Meal kits are now incredibly popular in most developed nations globally, with the USA being the largest market.

The first meal kit to launch in Australia was HelloFresh in 2012, with many competitors launching since and growing into a market worth $300 million in annual sales. So, you can be certain you aren’t the only person in your town getting regular meal kit deliveries.

The 2020 global pandemic only accelerated the rise of meal kits in Australia, with Marley Spoon revealing that it almost doubled it’s number of weekly orders in the first half of 2020 alone. There is no doubt that meal kits are her to stay.

Top meal kits in Australia

We’ve extensively trialled most of the meal kits available in Australia, reviewing them on price, delivery, ingredient quality, recipes and taste. Through all that testing, we’ve realised that there isn’t one single best meal kit in Australia (is that a cop out?!). It’s important for you to think about what’s most important to you and we can help you find the meal kit that you’ll enjoy the most.

Here are the major meal kits operating in Australia:

HelloFresh – Our personal favourite and top-rated meal kit in Australia thanks to the consistently impressive dishes we’ve managed to produce. It almost felt like having our own restaurant! HelloFresh may not be perfect, but it’s definitely a well-polished offering that’s perfect for anyone new to meal kits.

Marley Spoon – A direct competitor to HelloFresh, Marley Spoon are well known for their wide range of recipes available every week that ensures you could never get bored. This range makes them perfect for anyone on a vegetarian or restricted diet to discover new recipes.

EveryPlate – Launched in late 2020, EveryPlate are a budget meal kit run by HelloFresh. You get the same ingredient quality but they save money by using fewer ingredients, simpler recipes and less meal variety. However, our research into meal kit prices show you can save over 30% over the more expensive HelloFresh offering.

Dinnerly – Similar to EveryPlate, they target more budget-conscious consumers with affordable recipes. Their owned by Marley Spoon so again you get the same ingredient quality but with simpler recipes and you don’t receive physical recipe cards. We conducted some research into how dinnerly can be so cheap which you may be interested in.

Pepper Leaf – A local Australian business, Pepper Leaf offer a fresher farm-to-table experience. They offer fantastic customer support and definitely use the best ingredients they can find in each recipe, albeit coming in at a higher cost.

If you’re in Western Australia, you’ll also find services by DinnerTwist and YouPlateIt that might be worth giving a try.

Why should you use a meal kit service?

There are loads of reasons you might enjoy using a meal kit, but I wanted to share my top 3 reasons:

  1. Save Money – Although they might seem quite expensive at first glance, meal kits can definitely save you money. Unless you’re really strict at planning your weekly meals ahead, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of ordering a takeaway instead. The cost of a single family takeaway can easily blow your food budget for the week, so having ingredients ready to go in the fridge is the perfect way of stopping this temptation. Meal kits will also save you money by providing the right amount of each ingredient for healthy portion sizes – reducing food waste!
  2. Incredible Meal Variety – With meal kits, you can have Mexican one night, French the next before following that with Chinese and Greek. You’ll get the chance to explore new ingredients and new flavours that you won’t get out of your normal weekly supermarket shop. You can stop planning out a big weekly shop and spending an hour at the supermarket to pick out every ingredient, it just gets delivered right to your front door.
  3. Become A Chef – Maybe slightly exaggerated, but using meal kits will absolutely help you discover new cooking techniques and recipes each week. This will help you become the envy of all your friends as you host dinner parties with incredible food. If you have kids in the family, then the simpler meal kits (EveryPlate, Dinnerly) are perfect for teaching the young’uns basic cooking skills. Play your cards right and it won’t be long until they’re cooking dinner for you!

Who will enjoy meal kits?

Meal kits can be perfect for anyone, especially if you fit into one of the following groups:

  • Parents – Make meal time simple, quick and easy with pre-portioned ingredients and full control over the ingredients that go into each dish. No more frozen meals or pizzas needed!
  • Convenience Lovers – If you find yourself just running out of time to make dinner each evening, then you’ll find that a 30 minute meal kit dinner is so much easier to fit into your diary. You can also cut out those constant trips to the supermarket, saving you even more time.
  • Experimenters – Do you find yourself stuck having the same meals each week? It’s so easy to fall into the same boring rhythm with meals. Meal kits will give you an amazing kick as you try new, exciting meals each day. Over time, you learn tonnes of recipes that you can cook whenever you feel like them.
  • Healthy Dieters – Forget the latest fad diet, or going onto a ‘juice only’ week. The secret to losing weight is consistently eating healthy food in reasonable portions. Meal kits ensure you’re getting your portion control right, whilst using natural fresh ingredients. Perfect for people who are struggling to lose those extra few lbs.
  • Meal Preppers – My favourite hack is to buy more portions than you need for each meal and save the extra for tomorrow night’s meal. That’ll halve your cooking time and save you even more precious hours each week. Meal kit recipes are often perfect for those batch cooks for great meal prep.

We have an incredible amount of content to help you find the best meal kit. The place to start is using our Meal Kit Hub and start discovering the dinnertime revolution.