Review: ‘Dinnerly,’ An Actually Affordable Meal Kit Delivery Box

Dinnerly boasts meal kits delivered to you door for 50% less than the rest of the kits on the market.I’ve been jealously eyeing the meal kit craze since it began. Delicious meals delivered right to my door with no grocery shopping and minimal prep work? Heck yeah.

But one of the main ways we save money as a family is by keeping to a strict grocery budget and meal planning everything we eat for the entire week. The average meal kit costs 10-15 dollars a portion, which means they are all well out of our meal budget. Until Dinnerly.

Dinnerly boasts meal kits delivered to you door for 50% less than the rest of the kits on the market, that’s $5 a meal per person, with each kit containing four servings of three different meals. Intrigued, I decided to try it out, not just for the convenience, though that was big selling point, but also because our strict meal planning and my lack of skill in the kitchen does admittedly lead us to some pretty deep dinner ruts.

We were all excited to try some new meals, or most of us were. The picky unadventurous eater in the house was quite nervous.

Dinnerly has arrived!

After a brief snafu that was totally on my end, the box arrived a little later than expected. But props to Dinnerly for helping me sort it out right away, and even offering to replace the meats if they had gotten too warm while I figured out where the darn thing had gotten to. (Apartment office mix up.) Thanks to two massive ice packs, everything was just fine, and we were on our way!

A few notes relevant to this review: We have some dietary restrictions in my house, some by choice and some by unfortunate circumstance, and luckily Dinnerly is really flexible in allowing you to pause a week if any of the selections don’t work for you. I didn’t take this option, because I knew I could make a few very minor adjustments without changing the actual recipe. I made sure that those without any restrictions gave a detailed review as well.

Finally, there are five of us, not four as the serving size suggested, however not all of us are home for every meal, and even when we were, the portions were plenty for all of us.

Related: Online Grocery Shopping Could Help Low Income Families

BBQ Beef Sandwiches

We’re from North Carolina, and thus have rather strong opinions about barbecue. So the first meal I made had a lot of pressure on it. To save money and paper, the recipes come as downloadable cards, which I thought was a great idea. I loaded them onto a tablet and we were off.

I found, first, that the kit presumes you have certain basic items on hand, again to keep costs low, such as pantry staples like olive oil and salt and pepper, which I had, and kitchen tools like a box grater and high quality knives, which I did not. We made do with what we have, and everything came out fine, but it is something to be aware of.

Cooking the sandwiches and oven wedges was definitely a bit more complicated than my usual fare (remember, I’m not exactly a great cook), but it was exciting to try new techniques and ingredients without investing in large amount of say, pepperoncini. The BBQ sandwiches were a huge hit, and the picky eater eater even approved them with a “yeah, it’s pretty good.” Which is high praise, trust me.

Veggie Lo Mien

Oh my goodness this made a mess of my kitchen. Cabbage and carrots everywhere! Of course this had quite a lot to do with all of the “help” I had with this one, as I let the kids take over a recipe for one night. Some of the scallops were a little wilted, but we had plenty so it wasn’t an issue. Sautéed, the scallions turned out great and smelled amazing.

The kids all decided the final dish looked just like something from a restaurant, which they were very proud of. Two of them scarfed it down and asked for more, and the picky eater ate an okay amount, as they are not a fan of noodles. That’s a tough hurdle for lo mien to clear. I liked it, but thought it was a tad bland. Maybe a smidge more teriyaki sauce or a tad less cabbage would have fixed that.

Glazed Turkey Meatloaf

We loved this one. All of us, even the picky eater. Even the peas! I’ve already had requests to make it again, which I am more than happy to accommodate. That this one ended up being our favorite was a surprise, because I typically find making meatloaf too time intensive and fussy, but these little mini loaves were perfect and so delicious.

I have never cooked with shallots before and I am definitely a new convert. I’ve also always been too intimated to try making mashed potatoes from scratch, but with the instructions included it was easy peasy. This is exactly the sort of thing that I was hoping for: interesting, tasty, and convenient meals that would challenge us to move outside of our comfort zones, without being so costly that it takes up our entire meal budget on something we may not even like.

Final thoughts:

  • Dinnerly meal kits are affordable and low-waste without sacrificing quality or taste.
  • Customer services was fantastic and accommodating.
  • The digital recipe cards are a plus for me, saves money and paper.
  • We liked all of the meals, some more than others.
  • Subscription is flexible, choose the weeks you want and only pay for those, able to pause.
  • Meals are tasty and interesting but not overly complicated or time consuming.
  • Presumes you have basic ingredients and detail what those are ahead of time. You may or may not have these things.
  • I would have preferred more green veggies, but looking ahead to the next boxes this appears to really depend on the particular kit you receive.
  • Living in an apartment complex may cause issues. This is not Dinnerly’s fault, but rather a complication with way the deliveries are handled for apartments. Perhaps directions to only leave the meal kit box at the door would help?

All in all, I very much recommend Dinnerly to families on a budget looking to add some new, simple, yet tasty meal options to their week without a lot of hassle and trial and error. Five out of five people in my family recommend it. Even the picky eater.

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