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A quick look at the best sustainable meal delivery services
- Best overall: Sunbasket
- Best vegan: Purple Carrot
- Best gluten-free: Sprinly
- Best prepared meals: The Good Kitchen
- Best organic: Green Chef
- Best frozen: Daily Harvest
- Best variety: Splendid Spoon
What you eat not only affects your health but also the environment.
In fact, research suggests that changing to a more sustainable way of eating can decrease greenhouse gas emissions and the use of water by 70% and 50%, respectively (1).
However, it’s not always feasible to plan, shop for, and cook sustainable meals at home.
Meal delivery services provide a convenient solution to busy weeknights, by shipping boxes of ingredients or fully prepared meals right to your door.
With so many meal delivery services available, you may be wondering which is the best for the environment.
We researched the best eco-friendly meal delivery services based on the following criteria:
- Packaging. We included services that prioritize recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging.
- Ingredients. We looked for meal delivery services that use all or mostly organic, plant-based, seasonal, and/or sustainably sourced ingredients.
- Variety and flavor. All of the services listed below offer flavorful meals to suit a variety of dietary needs and preferences.
Here are the 7 best sustainable meal delivery services of 2021.
Healthline’s picks of the best eco-friendly meal delivery services
In terms of sustainability, Sunbasket is one of the best.
Ingredient sourcing is a top priority, and according to the company’s website, 99% of Sunbasket’s produce, eggs, milk, and yogurt are certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Additionally, Sunbasket only uses antibiotic and hormone-free meats that come from ranchers and farmers who raise their animals responsibly.
All of their fish is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, ensuring sustainable fishing practices.
Similarly, all their seafood is wild-caught and recommended Best Choice or Good Alternative by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program — a leading organization in sustainable fish and seafood.
According to the company’s website, Sunbasket donates 1,000 pounds of food every week to food banks and sends meals to frontline workers, cancer patients, and individuals facing food insecurity.
Finally, Sunbasket encourages consumers to recycle or reuse all of the packaging materials, though depending on your location, some plastics may not be recyclable.
How it works
Sunbasket offers nutrient-dense and sustainably sourced breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options.
Depending on your preferences, the service allows you to either pick your meals yourself, or go with one of the nine meal plans available:
- Lean & Clean
- Chef’s Choice
- Fresh & Ready
All meals are listed according to their required cooking time. This is helpful if you’re looking for quick-prep meals.
When browsing recipes, you’ll also see whether they’re low calorie (fewer than 600 calories per serving), diabetes-friendly, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, or vegan, making it simple to choose options that fit your dietary preferences.
According to the website, most meals take 30 minutes or less to prepare, but the Fresh & Ready meals are a great option if time is limited, as they come already prepared.
Examples of meals you can choose include:
- Gingered Steak Stir-Fry with Broccoli and Bell Pepper
- Roasted Chicken Breasts and Fall Vegetables with Red Pepper Vinaigrette
- Tofu Burgers with Roasted Red Pepper Mayo and Sweet Potato Wedges
Just keep in mind that their ingredients are handled in facilities that process common allergens, so Sunbasket isn’t ideal if you have serious food allergies.
Prices range from $10.99–$12.99 per serving, with an additional $7.99 shipping fee on all orders after your first delivery.
Meals are delivered weekly, though you can skip a week or cancel anytime on the company’s website.
Get started with Sunbasket
Purple Carrot is a vegan meal delivery service that focuses on using mostly seasonal, non-genetically modified organism (non-GMO), organic produce.
However, some items, such as nuts, beans, and tofu, are not organic. Furthermore, organic produce may sometimes be limited due to sourcing constraints.
Purple Carrot uses eco-friendly packaging and includes recycling instructions on the company’s website.
While most of the contents are recyclable, some plastics may not be depending on your location.
How it works
Purple Carrot offers plant-based breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and prepackaged snacks.
You can choose from the following plans:
- High Protein
- Chef’s Choice
- Quick and Easy
While Purple Carrot does include a gluten-free option, meals are processed in a facility that also processes gluten, so they may not be appropriate for someone with a serious gluten-related disorder due to the potential of cross contamination.
Prep time is listed with each recipe, so you can choose meals that fit with your schedule, but most take around 30–40 minutes, according to the service’s website.
Example recipes include:
- Spicy Buffalo Tofu Bowls with Celery Carrot Slaw and Herbed Ranch
- Black Sesame Gnocchi with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Ginger Pumpkin Butter
- Palestinian Spiced Peppers with Crispy Seitan and Tomato-Caper Relish
Prices range from $9.99–$11.99 per serving for dinner recipes, or $12.99 per serving you choose a prepared meal.
Breakfasts and lunches range from $4.49–$8.99 per serving.
Purple Carrot also has snacks available, which can vary greatly in price from $3.99–$15.99 per package.
Shipping is always free.
Deliveries are made weekly, but you can skip a week, cancel, or put your subscription on hold for up to 10 weeks — just make sure to make any changes to your shipment before the Tuesday of the week before your next delivery to avoid being charged.
Get started with Purple Carrot
According to Sprinly’s website, the mission of the service is to promote the health of individuals and the sustainability of the planet.
In addition to plant-based meals, Sprinly uses mostly USDA-certified organic ingredients, though conventional ingredients are occasionally substituted in when organic options aren’t available.
As for packaging, all of the delivery boxes are made from 100% cardboard and can be broken down and recycled.
Additionally, the insulation layer includes a cotton fiber filling that’s compostable, while the outer plastic insulation bag is both recyclable and biodegradable.
The meal containers themselves are made from up to 40% recycled polyethylene and can also be recycled.
Lastly, Sprinly recommends reusing or donating ice packs rather than throwing them away. Otherwise, the liquid inside is 100% nontoxic and can be discarded in the trash, while the outer liner is recyclable.
Instructions on how to properly recycle Sprinly’s packaging can also be found on the service’s website.
How it works
Sprinly is a plant-based meal delivery service that offers mostly organic, fully prepared meals.
Additionally, all meals are produced in gluten-free facilities, making it an appropriate option for those with a gluten-related disorder.
While the facility is gluten-free, it’s unclear whether it’s also free of other allergens.
Each week, you can choose from six meals, all of which are labeled as soy-free, oil-free, nut-free, or spicy when appropriate, so you can choose meals that fit your dietary restrictions and preferences.
Because these meals are shipped fully prepared, it takes 3 minutes or less to heat and enjoy them.
Example meals include:
- Spaghetti Squash Arrabiata with Sunflower Seed Parm
- Almond Ginger Quinoa Bowl with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Sliced Apples
- Mushroom and Lentil Burger with Ranch Salad
Meals range in price from $16–$18 per meal, and shipping is always free.
As with other services on this list, Sprinly deliveries weekly with the option to skip weeks when necessary.
Get started with Sprinly
Best prepared meals
The Good Kitchen
Ingredient sourcing is a top priority for The Good Kitchen.
In particular, the company prioritizes sourcing organic food for any produce listed on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list, as these foods tend to be higher in pesticides.
Accordingly, the majority of produce is organic, and all of the fruits and vegetables are GMO-free.
The company also sources hormone and antibiotic-free meat from sustainably operated farms.
The Good Kitchen uses 100% recyclable packaging. Just keep in mind that in order to dispose of the gel ice packs, you have to empty the contents before recycling the bag.
How it works
The Good Kitchen offers fully cooked, frozen meals that are produced in a 100% gluten-free, peanut-free, and soy-free facility.
Plus, as the ingredients for each meal are clearly labeled online, the service makes it easy to choose options that are suitable for your needs and preferences.
What’s more, the service allows you to filter by several specialty diets, including:
- Low Fat
The Good Kitchen meals arrive fully prepared and frozen, so the only prep time required is reheating, which takes just 3–5 minutes in the microwave.
Example meals include:
- Vegan Paella with Catalan Roasted Vegetables
- Ranch Chicken with Buffalo Cauliflower
- Shrimp Creole Over Rice
One potential downside of the service is some customers find the servings a bit too small to be filling.
Prices range from $10.99–$14.00 per serving, with free shipping when you order 10 or more meals.
For smaller orders, there’s a $6.99 shipping fee.
Meals arrive frozen and can be delivered on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly cadence.
The Good Kitchen also allows you to pause or cancel your subscription any time before your next order is processed.
Get started with The Good Kitchen
Green Chef advertises itself as the “#1 Sustainable Meal Kit” because of its strong commitment to reducing food waste and the use of eco-friendly packaging.
According to Green Chef’s website, the company is the only meal kit service to offset 100% of its direct carbon emissions and plastic packaging.
All of the packaging is recyclable, including the insulation, which is made from ClimaCell and can be recycled curbside.
The plastic bags are also considered recyclable, though this varies by your location. If you live in an area in which they’re not recyclable, Green Chef encourages you to reuse the bags instead.
Green Chef is a certified organic meal kit company providing all organic ingredients.
The company also mentions that its meats are sourced from animals raised with high welfare standards, though there’s limited information on exactly where or how the animals are raised.
How it works
Green Chef is a certified organic meal kit company that delivers preportioned ingredients along with detailed recipe cards.
The company offers three plans to choose from, including:
- Keto + Paleo
- Balanced Living
Within your selected plan, you can choose from nine recipes, which change weekly.
However, you can only choose recipes from your designated meal plan, which might be a downside if you’re interested in trying a meal from a different menu.
According to Green Chef’s website, most meals take about 30 minutes to prepare, making it a great choice if you enjoy cooking but are short on time.
Example meals include:
- Southwest Turkey Stuffed Peppers
- Blackened Salmon with Dijonnaise
- Spicy Sriracha Tofu with Peanut Sauce
Finally, as ingredients are processed in a facility that handles common allergens, Green Chef isn’t ideal if you have severe food allergies.
Prices range from $9.99–$12.49 per serving, with an additional $8.99–$26.97 shipping fee, depending on the size of your order.
Green Chef is one of the more expensive meal kit services, especially when you factor in the cost of shipping.
Meals are delivered weekly, biweekly, or monthly. You can also cancel your plan at any time or skip weeks as needed.
Get started with Green Chef
According to its website, 95% of Daily Harvest‘s ingredients are organic.
Additionally, the company works closely with farmers and suppliers to source good quality ingredients.
Currently, most of the packaging is recyclable or compostable. However, the company is working toward 100% recyclable packaging.
How it works
While it’s best known for smoothies, Daily Harvest also offers flatbreads, bowls, energy bites, soup, and even lattes.
Everything on the menu is vegan, gluten-free, and free of preservatives, additives, and fillers.
It’s important to note that while the meals don’t contain gluten, they are processed in a facility that processes other gluten-containing foods, so it may not be a suitable option if you have a serious gluten-related disorder.
Plan options include 9, 12, or 24 items per delivery, or you can choose a monthly delivery of 24 items. Everything ships frozen and can be stored in the freezer.
Note that you’ll need to use your own milk or broth to prepare the smoothies and soups. This may be a pro for some people because it allows you to customize your meals and snacks according to your dietary restrictions.
Prep time varies depending on the item, but generally, meals can be prepared in just a few minutes.
Example meals include:
- Sweet Potato and Wild Rice Hash Bowl
- Mint and Cacao Smoothie
- Kabocha and Sage Flatbread
- Green Chickpea and Turmeric Soup
Meals range in price from $5.99–$8.99 per serving. Shipping is always free.
Keep in mind that while Daily Harvest’s items are cheaper, they’re generally not as filling as others on this list.
Furthermore, as the number of meal options is more limited and doesn’t change as often, you’ll likely still need to purchase additional groceries for the week.
Deliveries can be made either weekly or monthly.
You can easily pause your subscription using the online portal. However, you’ll have to email the company by Sunday at 6 pm EST if you want to cancel your membership.
Get started with Daily Harvest
Splendid Spoon prioritizes sourcing organic produce, particularly for items that are part of the Dirty Dozen list.
Furthermore, each meal includes a list of which ingredients are organic or conventional.
Everything on the menu is plant-based and free from GMOs, gluten, soy, and added sugars. However, meals are processed in a facility that also processes allergens, so there’s a risk of cross contamination.
According to the website, Splendid Spoon has reduced carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by over 1 million pounds since 2015. This was achieved by replacing gel packs with dry ice and changing the insulation in the packaging to further reduce waste.
All of the packaging is now 100% recyclable.
How it works
Splendid Spoon offers a large variety of plant-based, gluten-free, and non-GMO smoothies, grain bowls, soups, and noodle bowls.
While all of the items are made without gluten, they’re produced in a facility that also processes gluten, so this won’t be an appropriate meal service if you have a serious gluten-related disorder.
Plan options include the following:
- Breakfast and Lunch
- Breakfast, Lunch, and Reset
- Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Reset
The Reset meal plan is designed to be followed for one day each week and includes light soups for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Note that following the reset plan every week is completely optional, and you could also use the light soups to complement your other meals if you prefer.
Everything arrives fully prepared, so it only takes a few minutes to enjoy your meal.
Example meals include:
- Moroccan Spiced Buckwheat Bowl with Butternut Squash and Broccoli
- Vegan Meatballs and Marinara Noodles
- Orange Hibiscus Smoothie with Maqui Berries and Chia Seeds
Meals vary from $9.00–$13.00 each, and shipping is always free.
Deliveries can be made weekly, bimonthly, or monthly.
Canceling is straightforward and can be done on the company’s website. You can also skip a week if you need, just be sure to do so before the cutoff, which varies according to your delivery day.
Get started with Splendid Spoon
Are meal delivery services actually sustainable?
While it may be surprising, many meal delivery services offer a more sustainable way to eat.
For example, because they deliver either fully prepared meals or the exact amounts of ingredients needed, meal delivery services can help cut back on food waste.
Many also prioritize organic ingredients, which are grown using more sustainable farming practices, as well as seasonal produce, sustainable meats and fish, and eco-friendly packaging.
On the other hand, these services also tend to contribute quite a bit of packaging, as each ingredient is often packaged individually and may not always be recyclable.
Still, one study found that compared with grocery store meals, meal kits create less food waste and have lower last-mile logistics emissions (those related to the transportation of goods from their hub to their final destination), contributing 33% less greenhouse gas emissions (2).
Of course, some meal delivery services are more sustainable than others.
Additionally, there are lots of ways that you can become a more sustainable eater, with or without a meal delivery service, including (3, 4, 5, 6, 7):
- choosing local or organic whenever possible
- eating more plant-based meals
- reducing food waste by only buying what you will use
- growing your own food
- reducing the use of plastic and materials that are not recyclable
- composting food scraps and leftovers
How to choose the best eco-friendly meal delivery service
With so many meal delivery services available, it can be tricky finding the one that’s best for you.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when making your choice:
- Sustainability. Look for meal delivery services that offer organic, plant-based meals with recyclable packaging.
- Dietary preferences, restrictions, or allergies. Consider whether the service has options to suit your dietary needs and preferences. If you have a food allergy, make sure the meals are prepared in an allergy-free facility with a low risk of cross contamination.
- Budget. In addition to the price of the food itself, be sure to factor in other costs, such as shipping fees or additional groceries for the week.
- Prep and cooking time. Some services deliver fully prepared meals, while others offer meal kits that require assembly and cooking. Consider how much meal-prep time you have before making your decision.
The bottom line
Using a meal delivery service can be a great way to eliminate food waste and help reduce your carbon footprint.
There are many different services available, so if sustainability is important to you, look for one that prioritizes sustainably sourced ingredients and plant-based foods, as well as recyclable and compostable packaging.
Lastly, be sure to consider your budget, dietary restrictions and preferences, and how much time you’re willing to spend in the kitchen.