Dinnerly Review: The Cheapest Meal Kit Service Has Tons of Recipes Each Week

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One thing I’ve learned from testing all the top meal kit delivery services these past several years is that you have some very affordable options — much more so than in the category’s early days when only Blue Apron ruled the roost. While some services including HelloFresh and Home Chef have affordable meal plans for around $8 or $9 a serving, Dinnerly and EveryPlate are the absolutely cheapest, with meal kits for under $6 per person. I previously tested EveryPlate, and while there wasn’t a lot of glitz and glamor, the recipes were all tasty and the ingredients fresh.

Like

  • The cheapest meal kit service with recipes for $5 per serving
  • Nearly 40 options per week, including plant-based meals, breakfast and snacks
  • Ordering, changing, pausing and canceling is easy
  • Environmentally friendly packaging

Don’t Like

  • Meals are basic and a few were rather bland
  • $10 shipping cost for each delivery
  • Boxes of ingredients arrive a little disorganized

Next up is a review of Dinnerly, the other cheap meal kit service that competes directly with EveryPlate, offering meals for about $5 per person. The company’s goal is to service busy folks and families with all the ingredients to make quick and easy meals at home, saving time spent shopping or deciding on what to make on a given evening. While Dinnerly has some advantages over other meal delivery services — namely tons of recipe options, all at a low cost per serving — I found a few of the meals to be uninspired and some not worth even the meager price. 

Here’s how Dinnerly works and what I thought of this budget-friendly meal kit subscription. 

Read more: Are Meal Kits More Expensive Than Buying the Groceries? I Did the Math

How it works: Dinnerly pricing, sign-up and ordering 

Dinnerly services the entire continental US. When signing up, the first thing you’ll do is choose a plan. You can order meals for two or four people, and as few as three recipes per week or as many as six. The more total servings you choose the cheaper it’ll be starting at $5. Even the most expensive plan is still only $6.39 per serving which is significantly cheaper than most other services. If you find you’ve chosen too many meals or too few, you can always adjust your plan later. There’s also a $10 flat shipping cost per delivery.

Dinnerly pricing

Recipes per week Two-person plan (cost per serving) Four-person plan (cost per serving)
3 $6.39 $5.69
4 $5.99 $5.49
5 $5.89 $5.29
6 $5.79 $4.99

After picking a plan, you’ll choose the delivery day. Dinnerly delivers meals on any day of the week and allows you to adjust that day from week to week. This is a nice perk, since some services limit those options to as few as two days per week. Credit card information is required before you choose meals, but you can see Dinnerly’s full current menu before you get started, so don’t worry about any big surprises. 

You can peruse the following week’s menu with tons of information on each meal kit before signing up.


Dinnerly

When it’s time to choose meals, Dinnerly asks some basic questions to help sort the meals like whether you prefer traditional or adventurous; hearty or light; and mild or spicy. Each recipe is outfitted with a brief but colorful description, extensive nutritional information, the projected prep time, a list of ingredients and cooking tools needed along with the actual recipe itself. This makes it so you know exactly what you’re signing yourself up for before you choose a meal.

Read moreHow We Test Meal Kits

Choices galore: Here’s what Dinnerly meal kits are like

Dinnerly has roughly 40 full-meal recipe options per week, which is about as many as any other services we’ve tried. They range from the familiar — cheeseburgers, chicken parm, meatloaf — to more inventive options like chorizo and broccoli quesadillas. There are a good number of low-carb and low-calorie options, but also plenty of comfort foods including pastas and pot pie. 

two dinnerly meal kit options pulled from website

Dinnerly meal kits range from the very basic to slightly more inventive recipes. 


Dinnerly

On any given weekly menu, there are about 10 to 12 vegetarian options, too. Seafood is sparse, with typically one or two choices that generally feature shrimp or a low-cost fish like tilapia. And if it’s more than lunch and dinner you’re after, Dinnerly has one or two breakfast meal kits per week, along with a few dessert options. Each one of these counts as a meal toward your plan’s total. 

dinnerly ingredients laid out on a table

All the ingredients required for my three meal kits arrived in one box, looking fresh.


David Watsky/CNET

How Dinnerly meal kits look upon arrival

A day before the box is set to arrive, Dinnerly emails a breakdown of what’s coming and suggests when you should cook each meal (e.g., seafood recipes first). The email also includes digital recipe cards, since there won’t be any printed recipes included in your box.

One cost-saving measure Dinnerly takes is with packaging: Where some services neatly arrange ingredients by recipe, Dinnerly mostly drops everything into one box, so you’ll have to sort out the ingredients to make each meal. Produce and other ingredients are separated from meats and fish by cardboard to prevent cross-contamination. Everything in my box, including meat, fish and produce, appeared fresh.

bird's eye view of dinnerly box containing ingredients

Here’s what I saw when I opened my delivery of meal kits. 


David Watsky/CNET

Recipe cards are digital only

Some folks might prefer a paper card with the recipe, but Dinnerly doesn’t include them. I personally don’t mind referencing my phone or laptop when cooking, but if you do, it’s certainly something to consider. I found the digital recipe cards easy to follow with all the information I needed to breeze through each meal. 

What I made and how I liked it

Hoisin and sesame chicken fajitas: This was a solid meal and tasty but very simple; it was tough to see how much time and effort the meal kit really saved me versus doing it all from scratch.

screen-shot-2022-05-17-at-12-44-07-pm.png

The hoisin and sesame chicken fajitas were simple to make and tasted great.


David Watsky/CNET

Broiled Southwestern tilapia with broccoli: This simple, low-carb meal was another rather basic one. The Southwestern rub gave the fish good flavor, and it all tasted fresh.

French onion soup with cheesy croutons: This soup base for this light meal was made from a packet of beef stock and some sauteed onions. Overall, it had very little flavor. 

french onion soup with cheddar crouton

This simplified version of French onion soup had very little flavor.


David Watsky/CNET

How easy are Dinnerly meals to make?

While some listed in the weekly menus appear a bit more complicated, the meals I had delivered were all super simple to execute. The fajitas required only some simple dicing and sauteing, while the fish required only two or three steps. The most complicated was the soup, which had to be built in a few steps and the croutons topped with cheese and toasted. Still, it only took about 25 minutes to complete. 

tilapia filet and broccoli florets on parchment paper

Dinnerly’s low-carb tilapia with spicy seasoning and broccoli couldn’t have been easier to prepare.


David Watsky/CNET

Who is Dinnerly good for?

Dinnerly is one of the best meal kit services if you’re seeking a cheap and easy way to get dinner on the table a few nights each week. With over 35 meals per week, this is a good meal kit service for families with kids or picky eaters. There’s also a decent array of plant-based or vegetarian meal kits to pick from. 

Who is Dinnerly not as good for?

If you’re looking to advance your culinary skills from intermediate to a more advanced level, I wouldn’t recommend this service. I found the recipes to be very simple, basic and even boring at times.

dinnerly box on table

Dinnerly packaging materials are all mostly recyclable. 


David Watsky/CNET

Environmental friendliness and packaging

Because Dinnerly ships all its meal kit ingredients into one box without much individual packaging, there is less single-use plastic than some other services I’ve tried. The box and most of the packaging inside is also curbside recyclable. Dinnerly even attempts to tailor your packaging to your region’s recycling standards. You can read more about Dinnerly’s packaging here.

Read more: Wondering Which Takeout Containers Are Recyclable? Here’s a Helpful Guide

The final verdict on Dinnerly 

When comparing the two cheapest meal kit services side by side, EveryPlate gets my nod with a higher hit rate of meals I really liked. That said, Dinnerly offers significantly more recipe options per week, including seafood and plant-based picks. 

If you have a crew of picky eaters or you yourself tend to have particular tastes, you might have an easier time finding suitable meals with Dinnerly than other budget-friendly services. In general, I found the recipes I made a tad boring, though they were all quick and easy to execute. It’s also worth noting that with such a vast range of recipe options per week, it could take some trial and error to find the Dinnerly meals that work for you or the hungry ones you’re cooking for. 

More food and drink delivery recommendations

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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