Whether you’re a student or part of the working world, there’s a good chance that you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to shopping for groceries or deciding on what to prepare for dinner.
Thanks to the recent rise of meal delivery services, this is starting to become less of an issue for many. But what services are out there? What makes each of them special? And most importantly, which of them are available in Jacksonville?
In the competition among nationwide meal delivery services, three frontrunners have emerged as favorites: Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and Plated. All three offer very similar services: they ship the ingredients and instructions for meals to your doorstep, so that all you have to do is follow the instructions.
So how do they differentiate themselves? One obvious way is pricing; Blue Apron is the cheapest option, with its lowest-priced plan coming in at $59.94. HelloFresh’s lowest plan comes in at $69.00. Plately is the most expensive option on a per-plate basis at $12 per meal, but it allows you more flexibility to pick and choose rather than having a set subscription. (It still, however, requires a minimum $48 purchase.)
Which one is the best? It depends on personal preference; each service lists its menus online to allow potential customers to get a feel for the selection. For vegetarians, HelloFresh offers a separate vegetarian box. All of them ship to Jacksonville.
While these national services are well-tested, it’s also important to note the Jacksonville-based options for meal delivery.
J. William Culinary
Founded in 2012, Chef James Phelan’s J. William Culinary is a meal delivery service based in Jacksonville that offers a wide variety of meal options, including paleo items and items free of diary, gluten, or meat. Meal plans start at $75, but the service also allows items to be individually purchased with prices ranging based on ingredients. Notably, J. William Culinary actually offers vacuum-sealed meals that are already prepared; it’s just a matter of re-heating them, rather than following cooking instructions.
With operations in both Jacksonville and Tallahassee, Flex Foods is a meal delivery service geared toward a fitness lifestyle. Another Jacksonville-based meal delivery service, Prep Werx, merged into Flex Foods last summer. Their subscription plans, which start at $49.75, are broken up into three categories: Get Fit, Bulking, and Specialty. They offer plans geared at losing weight, putting on weight, or maintaining your current weight. The service also offers gluten-free, vegetarian, and paleo options. Flex Foods would be best suited for individuals with an active lifestyle, particularly those with special dietary needs.
For those looking for a meal delivery option to support a strict paleo diet, Chef Millie Barnes’ Beyond Paleo would be the ideal choice. Barnes believes in the absolute strictest definition of a paleo diet, and these beliefs are reflected in the service’s menu. Delivery is free in some parts of Jacksonville, but comes with a $12 charge in other areas; a map is available on the website. Some may be turned away by the one-time $30 container fee; many more will likely be turned away by the fact that the website instructs customers to e-mail their credit card information for payment. Nonetheless, Beyond Paleo is ideal for those in search of a paleo-friendly option.