The market for healthy, ready-made meals has grown significantly over the past few years. You’re now looking at an overwhelming amount of options if you’re seeking the best meal kit services to help you save a massive stack of time in the kitchen. That’s why I wanted to put together this comprehensive round-up of my favourite options.
After all, home delivery meals are a great way to tighten your day and help it run more efficiently without compromising too much on nutrition or taste. Sharpening your skills in the kitchen is never a bad idea, of course, but sometimes utilising prepared meal delivery services is just the smarter play. It all depends on your lifestyle and what kind of diet you’d like to follow.
Whether it’s a subscription meal box or a vacuum-sealed microwaveable meal, these products are smart, completely valid choices for time-poor cooks who still want to whip up something a bit more sophisticated than a low-rent stir fry.
The above describes me to a tee, so over the past year I have made it a point to test some of the most popular meal kit delivery services in Australia including Hello Fresh, The Dinner Ladies, Marley Spoon, Lite n’ Easy, Youfoodz, Dinnerly, Soulara, My Muscle Chef and a few others. Some made the cut, some didn’t.
Below, you’ll find my thoughts on my favourites as well as a short rundown of what you can expect to help minimise food waste and save you from having to constantly clean your fridge of rotting produce.
Best Meal Kits – Table Of Contents
- What’s The Best Meal Delivery Service In Australia?
- 1. Hello Fresh – Best For Value
- 2. The Dinner Ladies – Best For Taste
- 3. Marley Spoon – Best For Variety
- 4. Dinnerly – Best For Simple Meals
- 5. My Muscle Chef – Best Overall Microwaveable Meals
- 6. Soulara – Best For Plant-Based Diets
- 7. MACROS – Best For All Diets
- 9. Thr1ve – Best For Vegetarians
- 10. ChefGood – Best For Meal Prep
- 11. The St. Food Co – Best For Freshness
- How We Tested These Food Boxes & Microwaveable Meals
- Microwaveable Meals VS Food Boxes
- The Benefits Of A Food Box Or Prepared Meal Delivery Service
- Frequently Asked Questions
What’s The Best Meal Delivery Service In Australia?
1. Hello Fresh – Best For Value
Delivery Areas: National
Hello Fresh launched in Australia in 2012, just one year after the company was founded in Berlin, Germany. The idea was to disrupt the growing meal-kit industry and refine it to boost efficiency for time-poor office workers.
You simply go online and select the recipes you want. Each week, you’ll get a menu of healthy and delicious meals pulling from all types of cuisines to keep things interesting. There’s also a very wide range of subscriptions to choose from with grill kits, gourmet hampers, 15-minute dinners, sides, desserts, ready-made meals, fruit boxes and snacks.
A common complaint with Hello Fresh is that, despite the variety, you rarely get boxes that acknowledge more niche diets like keto-friendly meals and gluten-free meals. You’re simply stuck in a dichotomy between vegetarian and non-vegetarian for the most part. You can always make your own modifications during the cooking process, but this means you’re paying for ingredients that you aren’t using anyway.
Expect to pay as little as $65 per week for a box of three meals that’ll feed two people. You’ll be tempted to add on more so the cost can stack up quite fast, which is why it’s always worth checking out whatever deal they’ve got going on at the moment. Coupons are easy to come across, especially if you hit up a mate for a referral code. That’s why I’d say Hello Fresh has an advantage when it comes to value.
I’ve personally found the recipes to be quite basic and unadventurous over the years and it’s only recently that Hello Fresh really started to lift its game when it came to new concepts and ideas. My favourites, however, are still the basics like chicken curry and herb chicken with pesto potatoes.
- Fresh ingredients
- Frequent deals and coupons
- Can pause or cancel anytime
- Variety is lacking compared to competitors
- Very simple recipes get boring after awhile
2. The Dinner Ladies – Best For Taste
Delivery Areas: QLD, NSW, VIC, ACT, Adelaide
The Dinner Ladies has enjoyed plenty of organic growth since the service was founded in 2007 by two Aussie mums who simply wanted to help their time-poor friends. The market may have become much more competitive since then but The Dinner Ladies is still one of the most popular options across the east coast.
The focus here seems to be on meals that you can stack in your freezer as opposed to a box of fresh ingredients to cook on the day. Meals are snap-frozen and come with easy heating instructions. It couldn’t get any more straightforward than that which is why I really enjoyed the service.
It also helps that these meals actually taste good. I really liked the lamb rogan josh with spinach, which is one of the website’s top-sellers for good reason and everything else I tried wasn’t far off that mark.
Go online and you’ll find recipes designed specifically for weight loss goals and some that dance across all hours of the day. You’ll find just as many breakfast dishes as you would ones for lunch and dinner.
The variety is great and recipes are typically split across three categories: ‘some prep,’ ‘no prep,’ and ‘microwaveable.’ All in all, I’d say this is one of the better options out there, especially if you want good quality ready-to-heat meals.
- Great tasting food
- Wide variety of meals for all diets
- Not available nationwide
- Can be very expensive
3. Marley Spoon – Best For Variety
Delivery Areas: Nationwide
Marley Spoon works much like Hello Fresh except I’ve found that the service has a much better range and has the most weekly food choices out of all of Australia’s food box delivery services.
In addition, there are a few smaller details that place Marley Spoon above most rivals. The fact that they package all ingredients for each recipe in separate paper bags is definitely a plus, making their boxes appear much more organised, hence making meal plans easier to prepare for each night. Oddly enough, this doesn’t apply to their more budget-friendly option, Dinnerly, which packs boxes in a haphazard and disorganised fashion.
From sweet potatoes to grass-fed beef, the focus is on locally sourced, organic and fresher produce, which definitely positions Marley Spoon as a much more premium option in the space. When you get your healthy meals delivered, the recipes will also tell you the percentage of Australian ingredients used which is a nice touch for those who place value on provenance (which should be everyone, at this point).
Expect to pay as little as $70 per week for a box of three meals that’ll feed two people.
- Huge variety
- Scope includes all types of diets
- Boxes are neatly organised
- Pause or cancel at any time
- Can work out very expensive
4. Dinnerly – Best For Simple Meals
Delivery Areas: Nationwide
Dinnerly is owned by Marley Spoon, and there’s a similar focus on offering far better quality than most other meal delivery services. You’ll get flavourful meals and good quality local produce, you just won’t get as much and the meals will be a bit more basic.
The pared-back service has a few benefits over Marley Spoon. It’s easier to narrow in on what kind of recipes you actually want, and there are plenty of options for people with allergies. But this lack of variety also means you’ll likely get bored quite fast.
Dinnerly doesn’t ship their ingredients with recipe cards either, which really shouldn’t be much of an issue since you’re saving a fair bit of cash. Instead, you’ll need to log onto the Dinnerly website for your step-by-step cooking instructions.
It’s still safe to expect a fresh meal that’s delicious, sized according to nutritionists, and easy to put together. And really, that’s enough for most people who just want something simple to cook after the daily office slog.
Expect to pay as little as $52 per week for a box of three meals that’ll feed two people.
- Cheaper version of Marley Spoon
- Can pause or cancel at anytime
- Ingredients can vary in quality
- Boxes are very disorganised
5. My Muscle Chef – Best Overall Microwaveable Meals
Delivery Areas: NSW, VIC, QLD, SA, WA, ACT
My Muscle Chef is a bit different from the brands we’ve mentioned so far, given you’ll find their products in the supermarket as well as online. You can subscribe to a custom-made plan online to get these healthy meals delivered to your door at whatever frequency you choose, with the main product being ready-to-heat premade meals that you just need to pop in the microwave for a few minutes.
That’s nothing really different to anything that’s been around forever but the evolution here is the obvious focus on an active lifestyle. Meals are put together with muscles in mind and the company has been recently working hard on expanding to offer more than just delicious microwave-ready meals like the top-tier chipotle chicken burrito bowl, and kimchi Korean beef with sweet potato noodles. The My Muscle Chef range now includes various protein bites, protein shakes, and protein oat bowls.
Online, you can customise a subscription or select your goal and have My Muscle Chef dole out pitch-perfect recommendations across ‘Calorie Control’, ‘Muscle Gain,’ and ‘Performance.’ You’ll just need to tell them if you’re male or female, and how many times you work out, and they’ll bring up a few price options best suited for your fitness goals.
I personally use My Muscle Chef the most out of all the brands on this list. The meals are very accessible at all major supermarkets and also a few independent ones as well. My personal trainer also doesn’t seem to mind when I have one, which is always a good sign.
Want to know how My Muscle Chef came about? Check out our interview with the founder.
- Best tasting microwaveable meals
- Rapidly expanding options
- Also offer shakes and protein cookies
- Loved by trainers
- Variety still isn’t quite there yet
6. Soulara – Best For Plant-Based Diets
Delivery Areas: Nationwide
Soulara is similar to My Muscle Chef in that they primarily produce ready-to-heat meals, but they are entirely plant-based. Most of their meals are built around superfoods, local produce, and tasty natural flavours, with standouts like lentil bolognese, pasta puttanesca, pesto with pine nuts and peas, and spiced butter chickpeas.
If you’re trying to go plant-based, or at least introducing more plant-based eating to your week, then Soulara is easily one of the better choices out there for anyone who is putting together some meal plans to hit their targets. Plus, they have some great juices in the range as well.
The downside? Given the health focus, Soulara kind of forces you to eat small portions, even though they have a few “larger” sized meals. What I usually do is buy some Soulara meals from the supermarket and heat them up in the pan rather than the microwave, adding a few extra ingredients so I’m not left feeling hungry after. I know that defeats the purpose, but if I’m going to go back for seconds anyway, it works out well.
The range still has a lot of room to grow here, but given you can also find Soulara in the local supermarket, the accessibility makes up for it. Online you can choose plans that bring you up to 24 meals per week ($204 weekly), but the most popular option is 12 meals a week ($119 weekly).
- A lot of creativity in the meals offered
- Can vary in quality
- Quite expensive
7. MACROS – Best For All Diets
Delivery Areas: Nationwide
MACROS is another microwave-ready meal service that’s riding the health-conscious wave with a focus on freshness and – obviously – macro-optimised meals. There are three fitness plans to choose from online: ‘sculpt,’ ‘perform,’ and ‘gain,’ all of which curate from their extensive selection of meals.
Do they taste good? It’s hit or miss here, but like Soulara I often use MACROS meals as a good base and spruce it up a bit with some flavour. That’s not to say the meals are bland – some of the best microwaveable meals I’ve tasted come from this brand, which has a wide enough scope to offer meals for plant-based diets, along with paleo, low-carb, gluten-free, and no added nuts requirements.
The important thing here is the focus on fresh meals. These are chef-made meals that aren’t delivered frozen or vacuum-packed. MACROS’ online menu grows fast too, given they are a relatively new service. Standouts that I’ve tried include the lamb & rosemary shepherd’s pie, Thai basil chicken, Moroccan chermoula fish, Malaysian fish satay, and fettuccine with garlic chilli prawns.
- Great for active lifestyles
- Widely accessible
- Quality varies too much
9. Thr1ve – Best For Vegetarians
Delivery Areas: QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC, SA
Thr1ve is one of the more expensive meal kit subscription services out there, but easily one of the best. You get 44 meal choices each week, all posted online with just about every detail you could want – including all ingredients so you can make a decision on allergens and what staples you’d need in advance.
The strong points here are a great variety and excellent service, plus packaging which is 100% recyclable. The focus here is on healthy meals so, unlike Hello Fresh and Marley Spoon, you won’t really come across more indulgent treat-yourself options.
Thr1ve’s build-a-box option has been recently introduced to add something a bit more simple for those who just want to pack individually picked meals into a box, but typically the way to go here is to select a meal plan and have Thr1ve curate the meals for you. Given the Sumo Salad association, you can expect Thr1ve to skew more on the side of leafy greens.
The cost usually works out to around $80 for two people ordering three meals a week.
- Very healthy and fresh
- Widely accessible at local supermarkets
- Can pause or cancel at anytime
- Lack of variety
- Can work out very expensive
10. ChefGood – Best For Meal Prep
Delivery Areas: NSW, VIC, ACT, SA, QLD
There’s not much that differentiates the service from other prepared meal delivery brands, but Chefgood has consistently been rated as one of the best companies for meals that actually taste good, are reasonably well-sized, and strike a good balance of flavour with nutrition.
One great point of distinction is Chefgood’s regular guest chef series, where the brand works with some of the country’s finest cooks to introduce new menus. Shannon Martinez and Reynold Poernomo are a few of the names that come on board every now and then to offer something new, continually expanding the range.
However, delivery areas aren’t as extensive. You’ve only got NSW, VIC, SA, ACT, and QLD, and most of that is concentrated around the capitals and only a few regional areas. It’s best to check online by entering your postcode and seeing if you’re eligible for a subscription.
In terms of cost, you’re looking at as little as $57 per week for the basic “everyday” option, which will deliver you five meals. Given the size and quality, it’s a fairly reasonable price.
- Guest chef series
- Better quality than a lot of competitors
- Delivery outside metro areas is limited
11. The St. Food Co – Best For Freshness
Delivery Areas: QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC, SA, TAS, WA (select areas)
From sweet and sour pork with fried rice to massaman fish curry and even pork belly baos, the St. Food Co gets by with its huge range of home-style meals. Online reviews praise how fresh the ingredients are, which usually means shorter expiry dates so be sure to consume these within a week.
The scope for delivery is nationwide but note that there are limits within states. It’s best to check the brand’s website to see if St. Food Co is available in your area first before subscribing.
- Fresh ingredients
- Great range of home-style classics
- Expires quickly
How We Tested These Food Boxes & Microwaveable Meals
As the food guy at Boss Hunting, I like to think I know or think or two about taste. And that’s the primary metric here: taste. Do these prepared meals and microwaveable dishes actually taste good enough that they’d help me resist the temptation to just throw money at a local restaurant?
Some taste better than others. Some offer better proportions than others. Some offer more variety than others. And some just taste like cardboard.
These are the things I considered when testing each of these services:
- Cost – You’re going to want a subscription that’s going to actually save you money as well as time.
- Quality – Do these meals actually taste good?
- Nutrition – Are these meals just overloaded with sodium to make up for bland ingredients? Are you getting the nutrients you need each day by relying heavily on these meals?
- Efficiency – There’s no point paying for a meal delivery subscription if you aren’t actually saving time.
- Range – What’s the variety like? Do you have many meals to choose from? Does the range cater to many types of diets like keto, paleo and plant-based or are there some limitations?
- Delivery Areas – With very few exceptions, I’m not going to include a meal subscription service on this list if it isn’t widely available for everyone within Australia. Some services have limited scope for wider delivery areas, so it’s important to be aware of whether or not you can’t actually access the service before you sign up.
- Frequency – Are you locking yourself into something you’ll get bored of just as fast or does this service offer the ability to pause or cancel subscriptions at any time? No one likes a lock-in contract. And obligation is akin to punishment. Why would you want to be punished for trying to save time?
Microwaveable Meals VS Food Boxes
I realise I’ve included both microwaveable meal services and subscription food boxes in Australia. The differences between the two are obvious but it’s still worth pointing out the pros and cons of each to help you better decide which brand to throw your money at.
Microwaveable meals are pre-cooked, vacuum-sealed dishes that you simply need to put in the microwave for a few minutes (usually 3-4). When the meal is ready, you’ve got a piping hot dish ready to go. Before the market became a bit more sophisticated, this would usually mean excessively salty, poor quality food. Now, you’ve got great options from brands like My Muscle Chef and ChefGood.
Food boxes are much different. You pay a subscription fee to get a regular box of fresh groceries delivered, each portioned precisely for the accompanying recipe cards. Most of these ingredients require very little work. You simply follow the basic instructions on the recipe cards and you end up with a home-cooked meal. One that you have much more control over. The most popular services here are Hello Fresh and Marley Spoon.
And while there are very few drawbacks to food boxes, it should be noted that each recipe generally takes a bit more time and preparation than simply popping a meal into the microwave. You’re also committed to using each recipe otherwise the ingredients are just going to sit there. And unsurprisingly, a lot of these aren’t high-end ingredients or even match the quality you’d get from Harris Farm or sometimes even Woolworths.
I generally prefer the ease of microwaveable meals. As I said, the market has become sophisticated enough that there shouldn’t be any shame in taking the easy route. As above, My Muscle Chef has been my favourite so far because these meals help me control my portions, contain a decent amount of protein, and, most importantly, taste good. My Muscle Chef’s Chipotle Chicken is the most dependable meal in the game right now.
The Benefits Of A Food Box Or Prepared Meal Delivery Service
The benefits of a food box subscription, or simply stacking your freezer with frozen meals via a prepared meal delivery service, are numerous. Minimal food wastage, minimal preparation, easy-to-follow recipes, and ingredients that are local and pre-measured.
A lot of these meal services that are delivered to your door or purchased in your local supermarket make healthy eating easy and help structure your week’s meal planning.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best meal kit delivery service in Australia?
Marley Spoon has consistently been ranked as the best meal kit delivery service in Australia due to its quality, service, and range.
What is the best prepared meal delivery service in Australia?
The Dinner Ladies is the top choice for prepared meals that you can heat up with minimal preparation, alongside more accessible brands like My Muscle Chef and Soulara.
How much does HelloFresh cost in Australia?
Expect to pay as little as $65 per week for a box of 3 meals that’ll feed 2 people. You’ll be tempted to add on more so the cost can stack up quite fast. Although HelloFresh regularly has discounts and deals so it’s always worth scouting online for ways to save money on a subscription.