With everyone being stuck inside these days, most of us have resorted to ordering delivery from our favorite local restaurants, or subscribing to some sort of food delivery service. But with so many different food delivery services out there, it’s hard to pick which one works best for you and your family.
I know my family struggles with trying to come up with something to eat every single day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so when we have the ability to order out, or have food delivered to our doorstep, it gives us just a little break from the daily routine.
There are a million options out there for food delivery services so I wanted to put together a list of jut a few different services out there that you can use to help relieve yourself of the meal planning for a few nights and use the time to crack open a beer or a bottle of wine while you let someone else do the cooking… or at least have someone else plan what you’re going to eat.
Restaurant Delivery vs. Meal Prep Services
Based on my experience I would say that the various meal delivery services out there can be broken out into two main categories. Restaurant Delivery services, like Grubhub, Uber Eats, and Door Dash (among others), allow you to order food from your favorite restaurants and have them delivered right to your house.
These services provide restaurants that might not have the overhead, or capacity, to offer delivery services to those that need it. It’s a great way to expand their business and offer a service that they might not have offered previously had it not been for these 3rd party delivery services.
The second type of meal delivery service, that I like to call Meal Prep Services, are companies that will ship you more “home cooked” style food for you to either make yourself using the ingredients they send you, or just heat up the pre-cooked meals without having to do any prep work or actual cooking.
I guess the meal prep services could be broken out into two different sub-categories, but for the sake of this article we’re just going to keep them under the same umbrella.
So now that you know the difference between 3rd Party Restaurant Delivery Services and Meal Prep Services, let’s take a look at what the difference is between the more popular services out there, so you can try to determine which one will work best for you while we’re all stuck at home for a while.
Third-Party Restaurant Delivery Services
There are a bunch of different restaurant delivery services out there, so let’s take a quick look at what the differences are between what I would call, the most popular three services.
NOTE, if you’re really looking to support a local restaurant during these weird times with the self-isolation, quarantine, coronavirus stuff, the best way to do that is to order directly from the restaurant itself. Check with the restaurant directly first to see if they offer delivery, then, if they don’t, you can resort to using one of these third-party services.
The third-party services take a cut from the restaurant whenever a meal is ordered for delivery through them, so if you really want to give the restaurant as much support as possible, order direct.
Of course, any food you order from the restaurant is going to help them, so if you do use one of these services it’s still going to help, so don’t feel bad about using them… just support your local restaurants and try to avoid the big chain brands out there for the time being.
With that being said, let’s jump into the services.
Grubhub is by far the most popular restaurant delivery service out there and can be found in pretty every major city across the United States. They offer a huge variety of restaurants to choose from, so you’ll definitely have plenty of options when you go to order dinner.
Just like the other services, they do charge a delivery fee, but if you sign up for their Grubhub+, which is $9.99/mo, they waive all delivery fees. Which, if you order more than a few times per month from Grubhub, would definitely save you money as some of the delivery fees can add up quickly.
On most occasions we use Grubhub over the other options, only because of the amount of local restaurants that are available.
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Uber Eats is the food delivery offshoot of Uber, the popular ride-share app. It only made sense for Uber to jump into the food delivery space and use its drivers to drive around food instead of people.
Uber Eats has a a variety of big named partners like McDonald’s, but it doesn’t seem to have as many local options like Grubhub, or even Door Dash does. I think I’ve only used Uber Eats one or two times, and it was fine, I had no issues, but like I said, they don’t really have the local reach of some of the other services.
Door Dash has quickly grown to be one of the most popular third-party restaurant delivery services in the country, and for good reason. They have a huge amount of partners signed up for the site, so there are a lot of local options for you to choose from.
Just like Grubhub, Door Dash has a premium service called DashPass, which is $9.99/mo and gets you free delivery fees on orders over $15.
Use the link below to get $5 off your first 3 orders through Door Dash!
Those are the big three third-party delivery services that you can use to order food from your local restaurants, but remember, if you’re really looking to support those restaurants, try ordering directly from the restaurant and not through one of these services.
I just saw an image this morning that showed an invoice from Grubhub for one month worth of orders and the amount of fees they charged the restaurant was insane. The restaurant sold about $1000 worth of food through Grubhub for the month, and after all of the Grubhub fees, the restaurant only got around $350…. that’s a total rip-off.
And full disclosure, I do get a small kick-back if you click on one of the links above and sign up for one of the services, but my main goal with this post was to help you figure out the easiest ways to order from local restaurants, and the best way to support them is to order directly from them if possible. That way they receive all of the money and these third-party services don’t kill them with fees.
With that being said, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin…
Meal Prep Services
Meal prep services, as I like to call them, are services that provide you with a menu from which you can choose various different meals for the week, and then they ship out either the ingredients needed to make said meals (portioned out correctly), or fully cooked meals that you just need to heat up.
There are a ton of these services out there catering to all different diet restrictions and lifestyles, but there are a few that we really like, and one local Chicago service that is absolutely amazing, so we wanted to highlight these as well.
If you’re looking for sheer convenience of not having to cook and just having a fully cooked meal delivered, with the only requirement being that you know how to heat things up in an oven or a microwave, then we highly recommend Freshly.
Freshly delivers healthy, fully-cooked, meals right to your doorstep, all you have to do is heat them up.
You can choose from a variety of different meals each time you place an order so you’re not always eating the same thing over and over again, and all their food is delicious.
The meals run about $8-12 per person per meal, depending on how many meals you order per week. The more meals you order the cheaper, per meal, they will be.
The idea behind freshly is that they use fresh, healthy ingredients and provide proper portions that you can finish in one sitting without feeling bad about yourself.
We recently ordered my parents the gift of Freshly when the COVID-19 stay at home orders went into effect because my mom was afraid to leave the house and they loved it. It was perfect for what they needed and they loved pretty much all of the food… they even sent pictures of every meal!
Blue Apron was the very first meal prep service I ever used and we had a great time making the food, even though I’m a terrible cook.
When I first signed up it was still brand new so there weren’t a lot of options for food and diet restrictions, but now you get to choose from a variety of meals each week. Each week has 10-12 options for meals that you can choose from.
Once you choose your meals for the week, Blue Apron will send you all of the ingredients, pre-measured and ready to go, with a recipe card that you follow. So unlike Freshly, you have to actually look the food, and technically you could just go to the grocery store yourself and buy the ingredients and follow a recipe, but the fact that everything is measured out for you means that you’re not wasting money or ingredients by having to buy way more than you might need for the single recipe.
Overall I loved Blue Apron when we did it years ago and it seems like it’s only gotten better. So if you love to cook, but don’t want to go to the grocery store right now to get the ingredients… or just hate the grocery store in general, like I do, then this is a perfect option for you.
Fire Thyme Weekly Meals
Fire Thyme is a paleo meal focused delivery service that brings delicious pre-cooked, paleo friendly, meals directly to your doorstep…
As long as you live in the Chicagoland area.
This delivery service, based in the Chicago suburbs, was started by a good friend of mine, and Hell’s Kitchen Season 7 contestant, Jamie Bisioulis.
Jamie has been working in the food industry for over 20 years and started Fire Thyme a few years ago with the intention of helping people stick to a healthy meal plan.
Jamie cooks and prepares all of the meals that you find on her weekly menus and delivers them directly to your doorstep so all you have to do is heat them up and enjoy.
In addition to weekly meal delivery, she also hosts virtual date nights, private chef experiences and catering for special events.
If you’re really looking for a meal prep service and want to support a local chef, I can’t recommend Jamie and Fire Thyme enough.
Everyone right now is looking for a way to switch up what they are eating every night, and with so many different delivery and meal prep services out there, I just wanted to put together this list of some of my favorites.
If you’re looking to support your local restaurants please try to order directly from the restaurants, but if that’s not an option, the services above are a great way to support them.
And whether you’re looking for healthy, delicious meals delivered right to your doorstep that you just have to heat up, or recipe ingredients, pre-measured, that you have to cook in your own kitchen, the options above are a great way to get away from your typical meals.