Y'all, I can't believe how many different meal kit delivery services there are now. When I first tried Blue Apron many moons ago, there were maybe three players on the scene. Now the field is crowded with well over a dozen! I'm here to help you decide if any of these kits are right for your family by reviewing every meal kit I can get my hands on. Last time I reviewed HelloFresh. This is my review of Dinnerly.
To create a consistent rating system, I will pontificate on the following eight metrics: Variety of Options, Cost, Ease of Recipes, Average Time Spent (Start to Plate), Clarity of Directions, Flavor, Recyclability of Packaging, and Replicability. I’ll also have a Notes section that I’ll use to pass along any other information to you that is applicable. Now, on to Dinnerly's Meal Kit Review!
Table of Contents
Variety of Options
After HelloFresh, I have to say that Dinnerly's options seemed a little thin. While there were still 16 options to choose from, the entrees were far less exciting than HelloFresh. Even just skimming the photographs of the options available reveals dishes that seem less inspired or adventurous than HelloFresh.
The options I chose were: Crispy Parmesan Chicken with Roasted Broccoli, Roasted Chickpea Gyros with Chopped Salad & Garlic Yogurt, and French Dip Burgers with Fries, Black Pepper Gravy and Garlic Mayo. Not only did these recipes sound the tastiest to me, but they were as close as I could come to a "seasonal" offering. We are still smack in the middle of summer here, and some of the options available were for what I consider fall/winter fare. Meatloaf in August? Beef Stew when it's 90 degrees out? No thanks.
The total cost of my order for three meals for two people was $23.93 with my new customer discount. That means that each serving broke down to $3.99. After the new customer discount wears off, each box would cost $29.99 + $8.99 shipping, meaning each serving portion would bump up to $6.50. To compare, HelloFresh's discounted rate started at $5.66/serving and after the initial 3 boxes would bump up to over $9/serving.
While Dinnerly seems to be competing in the "value" pricing category, I have to note that all of the recipes from these kits could easily be made for less than $3.99/serving had I just bought the ingredients myself. That said, one of the biggest draws of meal kits is the convenience (and, in this day and age, safety) factor of having it dropped right at the door. Additionally, if you're not one to spend a bunch of time meal planning, it might be appealing to not have to think about what you're going to make.
Final note: while these recipes weren't necessarily skimpy in terms of how much food they offered, there were never any leftovers from Dinnerly's meals. With the exception of the gyros, we also felt that they were lacking in an ample enough amount of vegetables for our plates to be "balanced." On these occasions we ended up rounding out the meals with our own additions.
Ease of Recipes
Dinnerly's recipes were very easy to follow. There were no complicated cuts or techniques used. The recipes were also a maximum of five steps long. I believe that a 10 year old who knows basic kitchen safety could handle making these without any issues. I'd definitely rate Dinnerly as a 5/5 in terms of ease of use.
Average Time Spent
Dinnerly also performed well in this category. My start to finish times ranged from 25-35 minutes, which is right on target for a busy weeknight meal. If you are short on time and don't have a lot of patience in the kitchen, Dinnerly might be a good fit.
Clarity of Directions
Dinnerly also rates highly in the clarity category with a score of 5/5. All of the directions were very straightforward and easy to follow, and all ingredients were bolded in each step. If you have some kitchen experience, it is easy to multitask some of the steps to get dinner on the table quicker than the allotted time on the recipes.
In terms of flavor, I rate Dinnerly at a ⅗. The meals were all perfectly edible, while the burger was actually really good. The Chickpea Gyros were only okay, and the Chicken was a flop.
My first complaint is that the Chickpea Gyros recipe didn't call for any red onion in the chopped salad, and that seemed like a major oversight to me. I know, I know. I'm annoying. But seriously! Red Onions and Gyros go hand in hand, people! The garlic yogurt was also fine, but quite basic. I'm glad they used a sauce. I'm glad there were enough vegetables to feel healthy. But the entire dish would've been better with the addition of red onion and feta. I know, because I added them after the fact.
I also didn't love the chicken recipe - the technique laid out in the recipe was to add dry panko to pre-seared breasts, drizzle with olive oil and then top with parmesan cheese. This resulted in the breadcrumbs not sticking to each other or the chicken at all, and the parmesan cheese forming its own separate crust. The pan sauce was also not my favorite. I think some kind of acid would have helped a lot. Finally, there just wasn't much to the broccoli, and definitely not enough of it. This was the worst of the meals.
The burger was easily the best meal out of the three. As long as people know how to use an appropriate amount of salt and pepper, it should be a winner for anyone. My only complaint with that meal was that everything was brown. Brown sauce, brown patty, brown bun, brown fries. I ended up serving it with a side salad to assuage some of my food guilt.
Recyclability of Packaging
Y'all know being eco-friendly is important to me. And one of the biggest problems I have with meal kits is their packaging wastefulness. I know some degree of packaging is necessary by virtue of the service. I just hate to see it overdone. In this category, Dinnerly is rated ⅗.
While Dinnerly didn't wrap each vegetable in separate plastic bags (hooray!), much of the food packaging was not recyclable. Additionally, the insulation used for the box looked like it was the same material as moving blankets, only thicker. It clearly couldn't go in the recycling bin, and I don't think it would have composted either. Luckily Joe was able to use it in his kick drum as a muffler, otherwise it would've had to go in the bin.
The ice packs were the kind that are water based, so those could go down the drain. Yay! The bags that held the ice were also recyclable, as was the box that the shipment came in. And while part of me missed having the recipe cards sent in my shipment, I appreciated that a digital recipe card would have the dual purpose of cutting down on cost for the company and cutting down on paper waste for the planet.
While there was overall less packaging involved in Dinnerly's box than HelloFresh, it seemed to be more about cost cutting than environmental reasons. HelloFresh used paper bags to corral all ingredients for each recipe together. Those paper bags are completely recyclable or compostable, and they also protected the ingredients in transit. Dinnerly's box had everything floating about willy nilly, and my yogurt container was broken as a result. Dinnerly also doesn't mention anything about its ecological footprint on the website, which leads me to believe that it isn't a high priority for them.
Dinnerly rates a 5/5 in terms of being able to recreate these dishes on your own. Every ingredient used in Dinnerly's plans were things you could easily get at any grocery store. All of the instructions were easy enough to follow. And even though they don't offer physical recipe cards, you can peruse their library of recipes from their app at any time.
The overall review conclusion
Dinnerly was a very affordable (as far as meal kits go) foray into the meal kit game. They also offer a smaller "add on" section where people can add extra proteins (3 options/week), a dessert (1 option/week) or a side (1 option/week). My biggest problem was the lack of a seasonal, diverse menu.
Dinnerly rated higher than HelloFresh in several categories, but was lacking in the variety and flavor departments, IMHO. While Dinnerly wasn't really my cup of tea, it might be perfect for families who:
- Don't like to eat very adventurously - maybe there are some tiny humans in the picture
- Want a lower priced meal kit option
- Want to learn how to cook some basic dishes
- Don't want to stress about meal planning
- Don't want to grocery shop
For next week's installation of the Meal Kit Review Saga, I'll be reviewing HomeChef. Until next time, friends! I hope you have a happy and delicious day.
If this review was helpful, be sure to subscribe to my emails to get more directly in your inbox!