With only 30-40 minutes allotted for cooking, it’s difficult and annoying to plan a meal, prep the ingredients for it, cook it, and then do the post-cooking clean up as well. Most of the time, college and university students don’t get enough time to spend in the kitchen. Even planning meals for the week seems like a task that requires so much effort!
No wonder meal kit delivery services have gained so much traction among those living a busy life, especially with college-goers who are just looking for easy-to-cook yet delicious and healthy meals. The best part about choosing a meal delivery service is that it caters to specific dietary or gastronomic preferences.
So, what are the best meal kits for college students? “Best” here can mean many things – most pocket-friendly, most customizable, most nutritious, etc. So, what is your best?
This is where we bring in multiple top-rated meal kit brands that suit different kinds of needs and demands. So, double-check with your budget and personal preferences, and start choosing!
What Is A Meal Kit and How Do Meal Subscriptions Work?
Meal kits and meal subscriptions are a food service that delivers ingredients (premeasured, preportioned, and prepped) for the meals you choose from its weekly rotating menu. These are, in most cases, subscription-based meal kit delivery services. It’s just like cooking homemade meals but without having to do any meal planning, grocery store visits, prepping, etc.
The meal kits are sent to you on a weekly basis, so all you have to do is cook!
You select how many meals per week, along with how many portions or servings per meal you need. Mostly, the plans are quite flexible and the meals customizable. On top of that, to make things more convenient for you, you can skip a week and also cancel your subscription whenever you like without paying any extra charges.
However, you should know that not all meal deliveries work in the same manner. However, it’s correct that the team of chefs at every best meal kit delivery service designs the most appealing menu and recipes that are also nutritious. Ingredients are kept fresh and neatly organized during delivery and even after delivery for almost a week (with fridge storage).
But, as I mentioned before, meal kit delivery services differ in many ways. For example, meal kit A offers anywhere between 4 and 12 servings per meal, while another one delivers only 2 and 4 servings. It all depends on your needs and preferences. Likewise, based on your requirements and convenience, you can pause the subscription or even cancel it altogether.
If I have to mention one con of using meal kit delivery services, it’s got to be the packaging. For food deliveries, a lot of packaging materials are used, so you may want to pick a service that uses recyclable packaging.
Also, you don’t need every ingredient individually wrapped, which should pave the way for fewer paper bags and plastic containers used.
When choosing which meal kit is best for college students or everyone else in general, be sure to check the company’s approach to packaging. For example, HelloFresh has put in time and effort to make its packaging approach as transparent as they can because they care about the importance of sustainability and environmental impact.
How Much Do Meal Kits Cost?
Eating out or spending money on takeout or fast food is not only a waste of money but also not very healthy choices. In comparison, meal kits are a more affordable and nutritious alternative. However, it’s only more budget-friendly if you pick a meal kit delivery service that offers cost-friendly meal plans for college students and young adults like you.
Do They Offer Student Discounts?
Yes, many top meal delivery services offer college or student discounts, such as Home Chef and HelloFresh. Then there are companies that charge slightly more, but you do get higher quality and more convenience in return for the extra expense.
Nonetheless, if a meal kit delivery service fits your budget and accommodates your preferences at the same time, then why pay additional charges? So, what’s the baseline cost we’re dealing with here?
The cheapest options (like Green Chef and Sunbasket) charge about $5-$6 per serving of a meal. So, if you’re not comfortable with splurging, you can select a more affordable meal kit delivery service for your weekly meals.
How to Save Money On Meal Kits
1. Sign-up Offers or Discounts
One of the most common ways to save money on meal kits is to subscribe. New members almost always get a considerable discount on the first order. More often than not, the special offer includes free shipping too.
On top of that, why not make use of affiliate links to increase your savings even more?
2. Credit Card Offers or Discounts
You may have come across many types of credit card rewards when buying all kinds of products online. So, the same applies to meal kits, and this includes cashback, reward points, and account bonuses.
Another very effective method for saving the money you spend on meal kits is through the use of referrals.
When you subscribe to a meal delivery service, you’re most likely to receive a referral code that can be shared with friends and family. And if you get them to sign up as well, then a sizable discount or even a free meal box awaits, along with account bonus points or credits.
For example, EveryPlate has a $20 credit if you refer the meal kit delivery service to someone you know and they also subscribe. So, you save a good $20 on your first EveryPlate weekly meal box.
The Most Popular Meal Kit Brands for College Students
HelloFresh delivers meal kits to your doorstep every week. Meal kits come in the form of groceries organized by the meal recipes you select from their weekly rotating menu.
They offer a great variety of meal recipes every week at an affordable price per serving of $8.99 per meal. The minimum order value is 2 servings per meal and 2 recipes per week. You can order as many as 6 recipes per week with 2 or 4 servings per recipe.
The starting price for the largest order is $8.99 per serving, and it goes up to $12.49 per serving. The shipping cost applies to all orders and it is $10.99 per order.
Here’s the breakdown of prices based on the number of servings you order:
- For 2 servings x 2 recipes per week: $12.49 price per serving
- For 2 servings x 3 recipes per week: $9.99 per serving
- For 2 servings x 4 recipes per week: $9.79 per serving
- For 2 servings x 5 recipes per week: $9.79 per serving
- For 2 servings x 6 recipes per week: $9.79 per serving
- For 4 servings x 2 recipes per week: $9.79 per serving
- For 4 servings x 3 recipes per week: $9.49 per serving
- For 4 servings x 4 recipes per week: $9.29 per serving
- For 4 servings x 5 recipes per week: $9.29 per serving
- For 4 servings x 6 recipes per week: $8.99 per serving
You can also customize the recipes by swapping ingredients, switching to a complete vegetarian plan, and modifying the size of your order before the meal kits get delivered.
You can pick a meal preference while signing up and placing an order. But regardless of what you choose, the entire menu is accessible to you. You can mix and match and customize your weekly meal box however you like.
HelloFresh features Meat & Veggies, Veggie, Family Friendly, Fit & Wholesome, Quick and Easy, and Pescatarian meals. The meals are good for satisfying different diet preferences as well as for people looking for a low-calorie, plant-based, kid-friendly, and balanced lifestyle.
- Some of the meals can be cooked in under 30 minutes.
- You have a full menu to choose from with over 40 different recipes.
- Accommodates a healthy and nutritious diet lifestyle.
- Some meals are low in calories and carbs and have high proteins.
- Some of the ingredients are organic.
- The price per serving is low compared to other services.
- No gluten-free or allergy-friendly meal choices.
- Not the ideal choice for specialized diets like paleo, keto, Mediterranean, etc.
- The shipping fee applies to all orders.
- Some meals take as long as 60 minutes to prepare.
If you liked HelloFresh because of its affordable prices, you’re going to love EveryPlate! EveryPlate caters to a versatile taste and diet profile with over 20 unique and interesting recipes on its menu.
EveryPlate features different prices based on the size of your order, just like HelloFresh. The pricing includes all the meal plans on the menu such as Meat & Veggie, Veggie, Family Friendly, and Quick & Easy.
You can order as little as 2 servings each of 3 meals per week, or you can go all out and order as many as 4 servings each of 6 different meal recipes per week. The choice is entirely yours.
It should be taken into account that you have to pay a $9.99 shipping charge while placing an order:
- For 2 servings x 3 recipes per week: $6.49 price per serving
- For 2 servings x 4 recipes per week: $5.99 price per serving
- For 2 servings x 5 recipes per week: $5.79 price per serving
- For 2 servings x 6 recipes per week: $5.49 price per serving
- For 4 servings x 3 recipes per week: $5.49 price per serving
- For 4 servings x 4 recipes per week: $5.29 price per serving
- For 4 servings x 5 recipes per week: $4.99 price per serving
- For 4 servings x 6 recipes per week: $4.99 price per serving
EveryPlate offers meal kits with pre-pepped and preportioned ingredients for a whole bunch of versatile diets and meal preferences. Some of their meals are customizable based on the ingredients you wish to swap.
You can select meals that belong to categories like Meat & Veggies, Family-Friendly, Veggie, and Quick & Easy. The menu also features add-ons like extra servings of protein like seafood, turkey, green beans, chicken, beef, and desserts, bread, salads, pantry essentials like herbs, spices, etc.
- A wide variety of add-ons with affordable pricing.
- The majority of the meals are easy and beginner-friendly.
- Easy to substitute proteins and customize meal recipes.
- You can view every recipe’s nutritional value and ingredients.
- Ingredients are fresh, high in quality, and preportioned.
- Not the best choice for vegetarians and a plant-based diet.
- Some of the recipes are too plain.
- There is a $9 shipping charge on every order.
- Does not cater to special diets like keto, paleo, Mediterranean, or gluten-free.
- None of the ingredients are organic.
3. Blue Apron
Blue Apron is a bit more diet-focused than the previous two popular meal kit delivery brands. They have a weekly rotating menu that fits some dietary preferences, and they also feature some freshly prepared meals for those who don’t want to cook on their own.
The pricing of Blue Apron couldn’t get any simpler than this. Regardless of the diet preference you select, except for vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals, the price per serving is the same for all. Shipping charges are $9.99 per order, which is a bummer:
- For 2 servings x 2 recipes per week: $11.99 price per serving
- For 2 servings x 3 recipes per week: $9.99 price per serving
- For 2 servings x 4 recipes per week: $9.49 price per serving
- For 4 servings x 2 recipes per week: $9.49 price per serving
- For 4 servings x 3 recipes per week: $8.49 price per serving
- For 4 servings x 4 recipes per week: $7.99 price per serving
The menu contains a total of 50+ recipes that are spread across specific dietary preferences such as Wellness, Family-Friendly, Veggie, Fast & Easy, Chef Favorites, Diabetes-Friendly, and WW-Recommended.
You can immediately identify which recipe is suited to which diet plan. If you want all vegetarian meals, you have the option to select the Vegetarian meal plan. But the number of vegetarian recipes is limited to 3-5 recipes per week.
Blue Apron also offers some interesting Heat & Eat meals that take only 5 minutes to heat in a microwave and serve. These are single-serve meals, while the meal kits come in 2 or 4 servings per meal.
- Interesting diet plans with balanced nutrition.
- You can select the Wellness plan – diabetes- and weight loss-friendly.
- The Signature Plan has the most versatile menu for everyone.
- Most of the recipes take 30-45 minutes to prepare.
- Low-calorie and carb-conscious meals are included.
- Ingredient quality is GMO-free and hormone-free.
- Some ingredients are organic based on availability.
- You can swap ingredients or customize a specific recipe.
- It does not accommodate allergies or special diets.
- The meals are not gluten-, soy-, or dairy-free.
- The price per serving is slightly higher than others.
4. Home Chef
For an affordable meal delivery service, Home Chef certainly surpasses all standards and expectations. Not only are their prices on the more budget-friendly side, but the dishes (both meal kits and oven-ready meals) are super delicious. At the end of the day, it’s the affordability that counts the most if you’re a college or university student.
However, the exciting and innovative recipes also make Home Chef a very suitable choice. The menu is full of classic American and Asian cuisine, along with global-inspired sauces and spices. Every ingredient used is highquality and comes from sustainable sources and local farms.
It’s a very simple and affordable meal delivery service. You can pick 2, 4, or 6 servings of a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 6 meals per week. You even get to choose your delivery day based on your convenience. Speaking of convenience, upcoming menus for 5 weeks are available!
The cost of Home Chef meals starts from $6-$7 for entrée salads and easy lunches to $18-$19 for more expensive, premium dishes. The latter usually consists of seafood and beef recipes. Overall, the meals are priced at around $9 per serving, with free shipping for orders over $45.
Additional protein packs are an option as well and they have a price tag of $60-$75.
Generally, a weekly meal box of 3 meals, 4 servings each will cost you around $120. But the default 3-meal plan for 2 people is $53.94 (after the $20 first-time discount, the total bill amount comes down to $33.94) -add to it the $9.99 shipping charges. With the discount, it’s $7 per serving, and without one, it’s $10-$11 per serving.
The weekly Home Chef menu features more than 25 dinner recipes. Each is labeled accordingly depending on its specialty. For instance, there are meal kits, family meals, Express meals, Fast & Fresh meals, Oven-Ready Plus meals, and lots more, along with a la carte items and protein add-ons!
Home Chef has meals that are highly customizable where you can change portions and swap proteins. For that, just make sure to pick meals with the “Customize It” button. Upgrading the protein, doubling the protein, and the like can be done without having to change or edit your subscription.
All meals are easy and quick to prepare, with fresh and preportioned ingredients. Slightly more complicated recipes are also on the menu if you happen to be in the mood to take up a special dinner project. But if not, there’s an adequate number of oven-ready or prepared meals that require no prepping.
- Customizable, affordable meal kits and premade meals.
- Lots of quick, easy meals.
- Protein substitutions are available.
- A healthy, delicious blend of classic and advanced dishes.
- Excessive plastic packaging is used.
- Plant-based options are limited.
- Shipping is not free unless your order exceeds $45.
Sunbasket offers a variety of nutritious and customizable meal kits loaded with organic ingredients and some prepped and ready meals. It’s more diet-focused than many other meal kit services with various dietary labels or filters like paleo, diabetes-friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.
There are many reasons to pick Sunbasket because it has a more personally tailored menu with tons of meal options like a breakfast menu, lunch, pasta and sauces, proteins, and snacks. It accommodates several different diet plans and eating habits for singles, couples, and families.
The Get Started pages have two meal options that you need to pick from.
Meal kits start at $11.49 per serving that have preportioned ingredients. You can select as many meal recipes as you want. The cooking time for each recipe is not very long – between 15 and 40 minutes per recipe.
Next, you can opt for a prepared meal or Fresh & Ready meals starting at $9.99 per serving. These are lunches and dinners that take less than 5 minutes to heat and eat right away.
The pricing is very flexible and differs based on the number of servings you want for every meal (2 people or 4 people at a time) and depending on the number of meals you want to add (2, 3, 4, and 5 meals per week).
It gets cheaper as you increase the total number of servings every week. There is shipping as well which costs $7.99 for every order.
Sunbasket’s menu is a delight! They have so many different meal options for you to choose from. The menu changes from week to week, so you’re never going to eat the same meal recipe 2 weeks in a row.
Following different diet plans is easy because you can select meals that are paleo, gluten-free, low-calorie, vegan, vegetarian, soy-free, pescatarian, Mediterranean, diabetes-friendly, carb-conscious, and keto-friendly.
There is a filter for recipes that take less than 20 minutes to cook and eat for students running short on time.
The menu is customizable according to the type of meal as well starting with dinners, a special holiday menu, breakfast, lunch, pasta and sauce, proteins, and snacks. Proteins include extra servings of seafood, chicken, beef, lamb, and plant-based alternatives.
Sunbasket specifies which meal or item is vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and has zero added sugar. All the meals and snacks are GMO- and preservative-free.
- More health-focused and personalized than other meal kit services.
- Impressive variety of diet plans like keto, paleo, Mediterranean, and gluten-free.
- The majority of the meal kits and prepared meals have organic ingredients.
- Cooking time for meal kits is minimal and clutter-free.
- You can add smaller items like snacks, proteins, deli items, pasta, etc. to your weekly cart.
- The ingredients are GMO- and preservative-free.
- An extensive vegan and vegetarian menu for a healthy plant-based diet.
- The packaging is eco-friendly and easy to recycle.
- Some may find the prices a bit on the expensive side.
- Gluten-, soy-, and dairy-free meals are not allergy-safe.
- The shipping cost is not optional.
6. Green Chef
Green Chef has a straightforward and easy-to-understand menu with over 30 different meal recipes. These are meal kits that come with premeasured and some pre-prepped ingredients, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time cooking the recipe by yourself.
There are several diet categories on Green Chef’s menu but unfortunately, you won’t be able to customize the meals with these categories. Each recipe displays diet information such as gluten-free, paleo, Mediterranean, etc. that you can see. Green Chef is more suited to people who want to eat more organic and healthy foods.
Just like any other meal kit delivery service, Green Chef features different prices for different meal orders based on the number of meals you choose to add. The pricing, however, does not change based on the diet plan you pick. It’s the same price per serving for all diet categories.
Starting with 2 servings per meal, you pay $13.49 per serving for 3 meals per week and $12.99 per serving for 4 meals per week. You can order 4 servings per week to pay a little less, between $12.99 and $11.99 for 2, 3, or 4 different meals per week. Lastly, for 6 servings per week, the lowest price per serving is $11.99 per serving for 3 and 4 meals per week.
Shipping charges are extra at $9.99 per order. This doesn’t change no matter how many meals you add. To compare, Green Chef is a more expensive meal kit service, but the quality of their meals and the versatile menu are worth the extra cost.
Green Chef fits the needs of many diet plans, eating habits, and healthy lifestyles. If you do not prefer certain ingredients such as soy, grains, gluten, or meat in your daily meals, you won’t be left without a choice with Green Chef. They have plenty of meal kits, and the menu changes weekly.
Another reason to like Green Chef is that they are very transparent about the ingredients they use. Being a certified organic company, they let you know when the ingredients are not organic and that you can swap them easily.
You can also mix and match meals from several diet categories without paying more than the per-serving price. This includes meals that are keto, gluten-free, Mediterranean, paleo, Fast & Fit, vegan, and vegetarian.
If you’re running short on time and want to focus more on eating high-quality and healthy meals every day, Green Chef is a quick and student-friendly meal delivery service. The meals are designed for health-conscious eaters and those with some dietary restrictions.
- More variety in different diets like keto, paleo, vegan, and vegetarian.
- You can easily avoid foods with gluten, grains, and dairy.
- Some of the ingredients are organic.
- Sustainable seafood, antibiotic-free chicken, and grass-fed beef.
- The meal selection process is fast and convenient.
- You can mix and match from several meal categories.
- Low-carb and low-calorie meals are also included.
- You cannot filter the menu according to your diet plan.
- The meals are on the expensive side.
- You cannot eliminate the shipping fee.
- Some meal kits take longer to prepare.
How many days of the week are you going to eat quick, supermarket-bought mac and cheese or Ramen noodles? There will come a point where you’ll get bored of this type of food. Let’s not even talk about how unhealthy it is – it’s just not a long-term solution!
Thankfully, there are subscription-based meal kit delivery services which really make the task of cooking tasty and nutritious meals so much more convenient, easier, and quicker.
Be it saving money, achieving fitness goals, or merely having homemade-style meals to eat during college days, top-rated meal delivery services like HelloFresh, EveryPlate, Blue Apron, Home Chef, Sunbasket, and Green Chef are classic and popular options for those busy with classes, assignments, work, living arrangements, and whatnot.
Well-balanced, healthy, and super delicious meals that can be customized based on your dietary preferences – it really doesn’t get any better than this!