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In 2018, we tested and reviewed Amazon Fresh’s
selection of meal kits. These are meal kits you can order through Amazon Fresh,
the online grocery store arm of the internet giant. At the time, one of us
(Molly McLaughlin) ordered a few meal kits and wrote about her experience from
start to finish. The meal kits on offer then were all from third-party
partners, such as Marley Spoon. Since then, Amazon’s meal-kit delivery service has
changed, and the company now sells Amazon-branded kits. However, at the time of
this writing, the company is was not delivering meals in our test area due to COVID-19. Depending on where you live and when you check, notices on the Amazon Fresh page said that either delivery slots will be
available at some point in the future or delivery is currently unavailable; or
it tells you that you live in a location that isn’t eligible for service

In this review, we share as much information as
possible about the online shopping experience for Amazon Meal Kits and compare
it to other meal delivery services. We also include Molly’s experience of
ordering, receiving, cooking, and eating the meals from 2018. We’ll be sure to revisit Amazon’s offering when normal service resumes.

It’s worth noting at many other meal delivery services continue to
ship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some, including Blue Apron, have slightly scaled back the
number of meals they offer each week to consolidate production. Others
frequently sell out their current week’s menu, but continue to let new customers
sign up for the following week’s delivery.

Of the meal-kit services we’ve tested, four have
been impressive enough to earn an Editors’ Choice. Blue Apron is our top pick
for novice cooks. Green
is great for plant-forward meals that fit into
vegetarian, keto, and paleo diets. HelloFresh is an all-around
excellent service, offering a bit of everything. Finally, Hungryroot is a less conventional
option but a lot of fun for people who enjoy experimenting with new
ingredients. It picks groceries
for you based on what you like to eat and includes suggested recipes for some of the items. For all these
services, you can expect at least a week, sometimes two, between the time you
place an order and when your food arrives. Seeing as Amazon Meal Kits aren’t
shipping at all currently, a week or two seems better than nothing.

What Are Amazon Meal Kits?

Amazon Meal Kits are a collection of ingredients
and recipes that Amazon sells through Amazon Fresh. To get them, you need a
subscription to Amazon Fresh, which is included in a Prime subscription
($119 per year). Previously, Amazon charged an additional monthly fee for
Amazon Fresh, but this was rolled back in October 2019.

Amazon sells these meal kits as single, one-time
purchases, rather than as part of a subscription plan, which is how many other
meal delivery services work. That said, there are meal kits you can buy in
ordinary supermarkets. Amazon’s set up is similar to those. So you can log onto
Amazon Fresh, buy meal kits, and have them delivered to you, simple as that. In
fact, you can do all your grocery shopping via Amazon Fresh and toss in a few
meal kits before checking out.

When Amazon first offered meal kits, they were
from third parties. In other words, you could order a meal kit made by Martha & Marley Spoon or Tyson
Tastemakers. Now, Amazon has its own meal kits. There are only about a dozen of
them, however, most of which you can see in the image above. Just because
Amazon now sells its own branded meal kits doesn’t mean Amazon Fresh is now
devoid of all others. You can still find companies such as Takeout Kit selling
ingredients and recipes for hot meals, and brands such as Ready Pac selling
ready-made entree salads. Just as if you were in a supermarket, you can also
add frozen ready meals from brands like Amy’s, Healthy Choice,
Lean Cuisine, and Jimmy Dean to your cart.

One special Amazon hook for its own line of meal
kits is that they are Alexa compatible. If you have an Amazon Echo or other Alexa
device, you can ask to get the cooking instructions aurally.

How Much Do Amazon Meal Kits

Amazon’s meal kits are priced individually. The
cost between $7.99 and $9.99 per serving. Each kit contains two servings, putting
the per-kit cost between $15.99 and $19.99.

A veggie burger with harissa aioli and smoked
eggplant costs $15.99 and serves two. Another vegetarian entree of red lentil
dahl with sweet potato and cilantro chutney costs the same. Chicken tacos will
run you $17.99 while salmon donburi bowls with edamame and Calrose rice clock
in at $19.99 per kit. Shipping is included if you meet a minimum order, which
is $35 in some locations, but $50 in others. Remember to factor in the cost
of your Amazon Prime subscription.

Compared with other meal kit delivery services,
the per-serving cost is a little below average. Most meal kit subscription
services charge somewhere between $9.99 and $12.99 per serving.

Blue Apron hits the low end of the scale ($7.49-$9.99 per serving), with free delivery for all but the smallest orders. Purple Carrot, an all-vegan
service, charges between $8.99 and $10.99 per serving. Sun Basket costs more ($10.99-$12.99) per serving. HelloFresh and Green Chef charge between $9.99 and $12.99
per serving, depending on how much food you order. Both charge a $7.99 shipping
fee, too.

Two services charge much less: EveryPlate ($4.99 per serving) and
Dinnerly ($4.29-$4.99 per serving). These two companies rely on recipes that
use inexpensive ingredients to keep their prices low. Depending on what you
like to eat, paying a little more might give you a better experience.

Most of the meal services we’ve mentioned so far
ship a minimum of two servings per recipe. So what do you do if you’re single?
Single-serve meals are available, though the companies making them tend to
offer ready meals rather than cooking kits. Freshly ($7.99-$11.50), Splendid Spoon ($9.50-$13), and Daily Harvest ($6.99-$7.75) are all
good examples.

Amazon Meal Kit veggie burger ingredients

Packaging and Delivery

Where Amazon has a huge leg up is, not
surprisingly, in delivery and packaging. Amazon Fresh subscribers can select a
two-hour delivery window (this was the case pre-pandemic). Packages arrive in a
reusable and insulated tote bag. Amazon throws frozen water bottles into the
bag to keep groceries cold.

Depending on the size of your delivery and other
contents, you might also receive dry ice, which you should never touch with
bare hands, as it can burn your skin. Amazon Fresh sometimes uses gel packs,
too. These are frozen blocks of non-toxic gel wrapped in heavy-duty plastic.
You’re supposed to pour them into your trash rather than down the drain. Quite
frankly, they are a pain, but they are all too common in meal kit delivery.

The kits, containing ingredients and recipes,
come in small cardboard boxes. When you open the box, you find a recipe card
with instructions fastened to the lid. Each ingredient is individually wrapped
and labeled. Most items come in plastic bags or containers.

Amazon has recycling
for its packaging, though some of them are
vague. Much of the materials are recyclable in theory, but you have to check
whether your local recycling center accepts them.

Dietary Preferences and What You

Unlike most of the meal-kit services we’ve looked
at, Amazon Fresh doesn’t ask about your dietary preferences or restrictions.
After all, it’s more like going to an online grocery store than signing up for recurring meal-kit deliveries.

If you have allergies or dietary concerns, you
need to look carefully at the ingredients list before ordering. Amazon also
doesn’t send a welcome email related to meal kits, telling you which
ingredients you should have on hand. Typically, you need cooking oil, salt, and
pepper, and sometimes an egg or butter. You’ll also need basic kitchen
equipment, like pots and pans, spoons, tongs, and so forth. Some meal delivery
companies make a note if a recipe requires additional equipment, such as a
blender or slow cooker.

Read the instructions and ingredients list for
each Amazon meal kit before ordering it to make sure you won’t get caught off
guard. On the bright side, if you do need oil, salt, and pepper, you can simply
add them to your Fresh order.

Amazon Fresh Meal-Kit Packaging

The Amazon Fresh Meal Delivery

The following section reflects our experience using the service in 2018. As mentioned above, we’ll update this part of our review as soon as it’s feasible.

We placed two orders with Amazon Fresh. Both
arrived within the two-hour window and stayed nice and cold. The second delivery
included groceries along with the kit, which came in two paper bags. One bag
only contained a bottle of Whole Foods 365 brand olive oil, which is wasteful.

It’s best to be home for the delivery, since
your packages won’t stay cold as long as deliveries from more traditional meal
kit subscription services, which include multiple frozen gel packs. Each meal
kit comes in a separate small box. Additionally, you can add
a tip for the driver, which can be adjusted up to 24 hours after delivery.

Amazon Fresh Meal Kit vegetarian pad thai

We like that you can be spontaneous. We placed an
order one evening and got it the next afternoon, about 45 minutes into our time
window. Since Amazon Fresh does not offer recurring weekly orders, you don’t
have to worry about pausing your service.

For our first order, we selected two meals from
Martha & Marley Spoon: vegetarian pad thai and braised black bean stew.
Both cost $18.99 for two servings, which comes out to about $9.50 each. The
second time, we opted for Tyson Tastemakers Nashville Hot and Crispy Chicken,
which cost $15.99 for three servings. At $5.33 per single meal, this was among
the cheapest meal kits I’ve seen. All three choices came with recipe cards and
pictures of each step, which is helpful.

Both Martha & Marley Spoon recipes came out
delicious. The black bean dish had a tasty spicy oil that we can’t wait to
recreate, and the Pad Thai carrots and salted peanuts balanced each other
nicely. Both recipes called for baby spinach, but that ingredient was not in
the tote bag. We messaged Amazon to let them know and it fully refunded one of
the meal kits, which goes well beyond our expectations. The pad thai required me
to supply two eggs, which we hadn’t noticed when we placed the order, but luckily we had some on hand.

The Nashville-style hot chicken from Tyson also
turned out well, similar in texture to the same dish we had when we visited the
city a few years ago. This kit included pre-prepped ingredients; the chicken
was marinated and just needed to be breaded, the sauces were premade, and the
peach-flavored corn muffins came in a mix. They were delicious, by the way, and
friends thought we made them from scratch. The cooking process was fast
and nearly foolproof.

Amazon Fresh Meal Kit's Nashville-style hot chicken

Would You Eat It Again?

Right now, Amazon Meal Kits aren’t available, so
we won’t be ordering them again in the foreseeable future. When delivery does
resume, we’ll test them. There are a few things to consider, however. For starters, Amazon’s meal
kits still weren’t available widely across the US, even before the pandemic started. Second, buying them requires an Amazon
Prime subscription, which is an extra expense. Third, the selection of
entrees Amazon offered up until it suspended deliveries was quite small,—dismal for vegetarians.

It’s not much of a surprise that Amazon’s
strengths are in shipping. It’s the only meal service that can give you a
two-hour delivery slot, rather than a whole day.

For now, we recommend trying Blue Apron, Green
Chef, HelloFresh, or Hungryroot, as they were the most impressive services
we’ve tried, for novice chefs, omnivores, vegetable lovers, and people who want kits as a part of a week’s worth of groceries, respectively. All these services have a recurring subscription model, however (unlike Amazon), so be sure
to pause your deliveries on weeks when you don’t need them.

Amazon Fresh Meal Delivery Specs

Starting Price Per Meal $7.99
Vegetarian Options Yes
Vegan Options No
No Extra Delivery Charges No

Best Meal Kit Picks

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