This post is not sponsored, but it does contain affiliate links, and I received a free box for review purposes.
Last fall, I tried Dinnerly, a cook-your-own meal service like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron but for half the price.
At that time, Dinnerly was pretty new, and their delivery area was a little bit limited.
Dinnerly now delivers to most of California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Texas, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Georgia, Colorado, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, D.C., and Florida!
So, odds are good that you can now get Dinnerly where you live.
How is Dinnerly different from other meal services?
In case you missed my post last year, a quick recap: Dinnerly offers meals for $4.99/person, as opposed to the usual $9.99 price point for other similar services.
Dinnerly accomplishes this by:
- designing meals with 6 ingredients per dish (simpler to cook, plus less packaging is required)
- sending digital recipes cards instead of printed cards
- keeping packaging simple
- spending less money on marketing.
By cutting costs in these ways, they can still offer high quality ingredients, like grass-fed beef and American-caught shrimp. I’ve also had a number of organic items in the boxes I’ve tried.
You do have to pay $8.99 for shipping, but the total price of a Dinnerly box is still far lower than the competitors.
Can you customize a Dinnerly box?
Dinnerly now offers six recipes per week, and you can choose three of them. There are often vegetarian options available, and some meals don’t have gluten, but if you have serious food sensitivities, Dinnerly is probably not for you.
Am I obligated to get a box each week?
Nope! Dinnerly is a subscription service, but you can skip weeks whenever you want. So, if you’re out of town or you just don’t like any of the recipes for an upcoming week, you can do a skip.
Will Dinnerly save me money?
Compared to other meal kit services, yes! A three-meal box for two people costs $29.94 plus $8.99 shipping, for a total of $38.93.
A typical meal kit, even with free shipping, will cost $59.94, which is $21 more.
Compared to takeout, Dinnerly may save you money. With shipping, each meal is $6.48, which would definitely only buy you a fast food meal. And Dinnerly meals alway include vegetables, which is not necessarily true of fast food meals!
Compared to buying ingredients at the store, no, Dinnerly will not save you money. Buying ingredients and cooking them at home will pretty much always be the cheapest way to feed yourself.
However, if you are a single person and you struggle with grocery shopping because you only need small amounts of ingredients, Dinnerly could save you money. You receive only the amount of fresh produce, cheese, and meat you need for your meals, which could help reduce food waste and overbuying.
One other cost consideration is that in my experience, the Dinnerly meals feed more people than promised. So if your family has appetites on the smaller side of things like mine, you will probably be paying less than $6.48/serving, and you may have leftovers for lunch.
What about the packaging?
Dinnerly now insulates their boxes with a paper product, filled with recycled newsprint. And it’s totally recyclable, as is the cardboard box (I like that it doesn’t come in a styrofoam container like some meal kits.)
The most trash-producing part of my box was the large ice pack. You can dump the filling into the trash and then recycle the outer plastic, but it is a bummer to me that the filling has to go into the trash.
Of course, you can reuse the ice pack, but how many ice packs would one person need?
Anyway, a Dinnerly box produces more trash than a bag of groceries would, but less than typical meal kits would.
Are the meals tasty?
So, I think I generally prefer the meals I make on my own, because they’re usually a little more complicated and interesting. Dinnerly’s meals tend to be more basic than what I’d choose to make.
But, the upside of this is that the meals aren’t hard to make! And presumably you’d be ordering from Dinnerly in order to simplify your mealtimes, so I think simple is good.
And the meals from Dinnerly do sometimes have interesting components…for instance, the spaghetti dish called for making Parmesan crisps, which I will definitely do again.
And the sauce was just mascarpone cheese (which I’d never tried before) and it made a great easy sauce.
Should you try Dinnerly?
I don’t think I’d recommend it if:
- you have a medium to large household
- you already know how to cook
- you are good at picking out recipes
On the other hand, if:
- you are a cooking newbie and need some help
- you want something easy for your kids to cook
- you have a small household
- you are in the midst of a crazy season and need help avoiding takeout
…then I think Dinnerly could be very helpful.
And if you are a cooking newbie, Dinnerly could help you gain some skills which will help you become independent in the kitchen to the point where you might not need a meal kit service so much.
And that’ll definitely save you money!
Dinnerly offered to give four randomly chosen Frugal Girl readers a gift of a free two-person Dinnerly box!
To enter, leave a comment letting me know why you’d love a Dinnerly box.
(Winners will get an emailed code to use for a free box. Just remember to cancel your subscription if you don’t want any more boxes after your free one.)
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Odds of winning depend up on the number of entrants. Winners will be contacted via email address left in comment form. If winners do not respond within a week, a replacement winner will be chosen at random.