Dinnerly Review: Menu options, plans, and costs [2020]

Dinnerly Delivery Box

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Dinnerly was created for people who like homemade cooking, but don’t like overpaying for the good things in life. In our review of Dinnerly, we’ll see if that holds true.

  • We chose two servings per meal, with three meals per week.
  • It costs about $4.29 per serving (undiscounted).

Our Score: 4.2/5

Our Take

This was a challenging meal kit to score. The meals were tasty and inexpensive. However, we received canned ingredients and one of the vegetables was a little over-ripened. There’s a fine line between “you get what you pay for” and “budget-friendly,” so we had to stop and consider which side of the line Dinnerly fell on.

Where we landed: If you don’t mind the potential of receiving canned ingredients and your fresh produce and pre-packaged seasonings, then absolutely give Dinnerly a try. The price is unbeatable, and the meals were genuinely tasty.

Read on to see if it’s the right meal delivery service for you.

In This Review

Who is Dinnerly Best For?

Best For People Who Want...

  • A budget-friendly service.
  • Tasty, homey recipes.

May Not be Best For...

  • People with dietary restrictions.
  • People who are looking for organic ingredients

Dinnerly In-Depth Review

When meal kits first became popular, they were considered a luxury service. You’d have to overpay for food to be delivered right to your door. This year has not only made meal kits more common but more practical.

Who wants to go to the grocery store these days? Not us. 

Now we see those big names in meal kit services launching cost-conscious services too. An example of this is when HelloFresh started EveryPlate, its budget-friendly counterpart.

However, they’re not the only ones that have done this. A lesser-known company, Marley Spoon (they’re a foodie-focused meal kit service) launched Dinnerly in 2017, who’s now being touted as the most affordable meal delivery service.

This is true. Dinnerly is the cheapest service out there. However, do you get what you pay for, or is it a steal? Let’s find out.

How It Works: Dinnerly Costs and Plan Options

The website is comparable to competitors in terms of functionality and layout. Once you click the “Sign Up” button, you immediately begin picking the size of your kit and setting up delivery and payment. This is where Dinnerly is a little different as most other companies have you choose your meals and then pay. However, you can look at Dinnerly’s menu for the week without even signing up, so we don’t think it’s a big deal that they do it ‘backward’ comparatively.  

Another thing that makes Dinnerly a bit different than other kits is the number of meals you can get per week. Having a two-person box and a family box (four-person) is standard fare. However, you can get anywhere between 3 to 6 meals in each box, which is more than most other services.

Like other services, Dinnerly’s menu options change every week. But they differ from a lot of other services in how those menu options are delivered. With Dinnerly, you’re just going to receive a box full of unsorted ingredients. They’re not prepped, pre-measured or sorted. Plus, the recipe cards aren’t in the box, they’re digital (on their website). 

Dinnerly’s meals aren’t bad, in any case. They aren’t gourmet or perfectly healthy, but they’re delicious and have a homey quality. Many of their recipes feel like what your mom might be cooking for dinner, such as Pan-Roasted Chicken & Mashed Potatoes with Herb Gravy, Peas & Carrots or Crispy Parmesan Chicken with Roasted Broccoli. 

Conversely, there’s a small handful of more unique dishes that’ll give you a nice variety. For instance, you probably wouldn’t find Roasted Chickpea Gyro with Chopped Salad & Garlic Yogurt for dinner in the average household, but that is on Dinnerly’s menu this week.

There are only two things that might make Dinnerly a no-go for you. While they are very affordable, especially compared to other services of similar quality level, they don’t cater well to people with specific dietary restrictions. Plus, we were sent a canned food item as one of our ingredients. 

Canned foods tend to be higher in sodium and packed with preservatives compared to fresh ingredients. However, it is a great way to keep the cost in check, so it’s really up to you whether it is a deal-breaker.

Ordering Process

The order process is quite simple with Dinnerly. They have a short quiz when you first sign up to ask you about your food preferences so that they can recommend meals to you. However, since they don’t specifically cater to special dietary needs, it simplifies the order process.

Screenshot of Dinnerly ordering screen

Once you’re signed up, you can see the menu for that week and start making your selections. While they don’t specifically cater to special diet restrictions, they do ‘tag’ their meals with short descriptions that provide you with pertinent information, such as “under 30 minutes,” “kid-friendly,” and “vegetarian.” Check out the picture below to see this in action.

All their meals are $4.29 when no discount is applied, and you’ll pay $8.99 for shipping. However, if you’re a new subscriber, you can expect some level of discount when you sign up.

Plus, Dinnerly has launched a Meal-Kit app that allows customers to access its library of recipes, set orders weekly, and manage deliveries, which is convenient.

Delivery

Our delivery arrived on time. The insulation was a bit thinner than other kits, and there were only two ice packs in the box, but nothing smelled questionable.

Opening the delivery was a little chaotic, though, because Dinnerly just packages all of the ingredients into one box, unsorted. Plus, we were unaware that this service offered digital recipe cards instead of standard physical cards. We were a little confused at first. 

Luckily, a quick trip to the website cleared everything up, and we were ready to cook our first meal. 

Our Experience with Dinnerly

It was a little jarring to see canned ingredients in the box because this isn’t the norm. However, the food was quite good, and there was a decent variety of recipes. All the meals include some level of veg but were a little carb-heavy overall. We didn’t mind this, however. 

If you don’t have dietary restrictions and don’t want to break the bank on a meal kit, Dinnerly is a decent option to consider. There was only one small flaw in our box. Read on for details.

Ingredients

This section will be broken down into categories, with comments on each, so you know exactly what to expect if you order Dinnerly.

Produce

The produce had a small hiccup. It wasn’t rotting, like with some kits we’ve tried. However, the zucchini we received was a little over-ripened and had begun to soften at one end. Everything else was fresh and un-wilted/bruised.

Meat

The meat was fresh. No foul smells, thank gosh.

Plus, the pork chops we received seemed like they were the same size. It’s a bit annoying when you receive two completely different sized portions of meat because the cooking time will vary between the two.

Spices/Toppings

Most other meal kits only call for your own salt, pepper and cooking oil. However, Dinnerly did call for us to have white wine vinegar on hand (we didn’t have this. Inconvenient).

The spices they did provide weren’t pre-measured either, which was a bit inconvenient. They came in small sealed plastic pouches but were more than the recipe required. This did have one small benefit though if you liked that seasoning blend, you had the option to add a little extra.

Overall, everything was rather tasty. While Dinnerly appeared to be lower quality than its more expensive counterparts, this hasn’t led to the taste of the food suffering. Since taste is arguably the second most crucial factor to consider when choosing a meal kit service, behind price, Dinnerly may be on to something by keeping things very simple.

Cooking

We really didn’t enjoy the digital recipe cards. It’s meant to save costs (and trees), but it’s just so inconvenient and a little gross. Cell phones are dirty, so it’s not something we wanted to keep touching while cooking dinner. We could’ve brought a laptop into the kitchen instead, but this seems like an accident waiting to happen too. However, this is a personal preference on our end.

Overall, the meals cooked up just fine. The recipes were simple. They provided alternate instructions when necessary (like if you didn’t have a grill and the recipe called for one). Most of the meals were cooked in just two pots, so they didn’t create a ton of dishes.

These meals basically felt like the kind of home cooking you may already be used to doing, so you don’t need incredible skills or fancy equipment. Our only suggestions to make cooking easier would be paper recipe cards and to include photos with each step.

Taste

The meals we chose had a “comfort food” quality to them. They were delicious and satisfying. The seasoning blends they included with our meals were flavorful, so you really shouldn’t need to add anything more than your own salt and pepper.

Other meal kits don’t seem to pay as much attention to detail. However, Dinnerly did seem to consider the texture of the meal, in addition to taste. 

For context, we needed to do a slight char on our veggies that accompanied our pan-seared pork. This gave the meal an excellent crunchy factor. In our experience, some other kits would have you pan-sear the meat and saute the veggies so everything would end up with a bit of a greasy feel. 

The food can taste great both ways, but having a variety of textures within the dish can liven things up and make a meal more enjoyable.

Recipes You Can Get

Dinnerly is for the average family (or individual) looking for some delicious dinner options that you can get on the table quickly, and that won’t break the bank.

Now let’s talk about the tastiness we received.

Cheesy Refried Bean Tostadas with Corn & Tomato Salsa - after

Cheesy Refried Bean Tostadas with Corn & Tomato Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 6-inch flour tortillas, taco seasoning, black beans, salsa, corn, garlic and mozzarella.
  • Apart from the canned beans, the veggies were fresh and ripe. 
  • This recipe called for us to use our own white wine vinegar. We subbed it out for apple cider vinegar because it’s the only vinegar we had on hand.

How It Cooked:

  • It was simple and only dirtied a handful of dishes, so that’s not bad. The recipe calls for you to reuse the same skillet keeping the dirty dishes at bay and is only five steps.

The Taste:

  • This meal could have used a little more flavor. Since it’s Mexican food, we would have loved to see some heat. However, it’s one of their “kid-friendly” recipes, so we understand why they kept the spiciness at bay. They did consider this themselves and listed a sixth bonus step that calls for you to add your own hot sauce if you’d like.
  • 6-inch flour tortillas, taco seasoning, black beans, salsa, corn, garlic and mozzarella.
  • Apart from the canned beans, the veggies were fresh and ripe. 
  • This recipe called for us to use our own white wine vinegar. We subbed it out for apple cider vinegar because it’s the only vinegar we had on hand.

How It Cooked:

  • It was simple and only dirtied a handful of dishes, so that’s not bad. The recipe calls for you to reuse the same skillet keeping the dirty dishes at bay and is only five steps.

The Taste:

  • This meal could have used a little more flavor. Since it’s Mexican food, we would have loved to see some heat. However, it’s one of their “kid-friendly” recipes, so we understand why they kept the spiciness at bay. They did consider this themselves and listed a sixth bonus step that calls for you to add your own hot sauce if you’d like.
Grilled Garlic-Herb Pork Chop with Potato Salad & Grilled Zucchini

Grilled Garlic-Herb Pork Chop with Potato Salad & Grilled Zucchini

Ingredients:

  • Dried oregano, zucchini, boneless pork chops, sour cream, garlic, scallions and a russet potato.
  • The zucchini was slightly over-ripened, which caused one end to be soft/squishy. However, the garlic, scallions, and russet potato were all fresh and ripe.
  • This recipe called for us to have apple cider vinegar on hand. We had some, but not everyone will, which is kind of inconvenient. 

How It Cooked:

  • This recipe called for grilling the pork chops and zucchini, but it’s rain season, so that was a no-go. Dinnerly was considerate enough to give alternate instructions if you didn’t have access to a grill.
  • This was probably the most laborious recipe to cook, but dirtied just about the same amount of dishes as the tostada recipe. However, as long as you can follow directions and work efficiently, you shouldn’t have any issues. You’ll just be preppy the next step as the food from the previous step cooks or cools, nothing too advanced.

The Taste:

  • It was our favorite meal by that point until we cooked the final meal. Now it’s a pretty strong tie between the two recipes. This recipe has a fun summer cookout vibe between what should have been *grilled* pork chops and potato salad. That, plus the flavor, made this meal really enjoyable. 
  • The herb, garlic, and oil mixture that the pork chops get tossed in as they rest are worth an entire point. So simple, yet so delicious.

Louisiana-Style Shrimp with Cheddar Grits & Spinach

Ingredients:

  • Baby spinach, seafood seasoning, shrimp, cheddar, garlic and quick-cooking grits.
  • The spinach was fresh and not rotting. Typically, greens are the first ingredients to ‘turn’ in these meal kits. 
  • The cheddar cheese they gave us was a cheese stick, which was odd and wasn’t what they had pictured on the website. The website had a picture of a block of white cheddar cheese.

How It Cooked:

  • This recipe was the fastest, easiest and dirtied the least amount of dishes.
  • The whole meal probably took like 15 minutes to cook, and the directions were super simple. As your grits cook, you cook the shrimp and spinach in a different pan. Then you just combine and serve.

The Taste:

  • It’s hard to pick our favorite meal between this one and the one above because both taste excellent. Shrimp and grits are a southern staple. While this is a simplistic version (bacon is a missed traditional topping), it actually had some nice flavor and a whisper of heat. 

Final Thoughts

Dinnerly exceeded our expectations. While it is a situation where you get what you pay for (like with the canned ingredients), we found this had no adverse effect on the taste of the food and the satiety of the meal.  

Plus, Dinnerly is the cheapest meal kit delivery service in America at this time, which is fantastic. This is a quality service that can be used by individuals or families on a tight budget. The other affordable meal kit that comes to mind is EveryPlate, and if we had to pick between the two, we’d say Dinnerly is the better option.

While the meals weren’t perfectly balanced, the taste was good and they incorporated textural components into the meal. This definitely sets them apart. Plus, there seems to be a more significant variety with Dinnerly. You’ll find homey, familiar meals, but they also offer options for dinners that are a touch outside of the norm. This can keep things fresh and fun for the customer.

Read more: Our in-depth Sun Basket review

Dinnerly FAQs

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about Dinnerly:

Can I still order if I have a specific food allergy (e.g., gluten, dairy, nuts)?

They offer recipes that are adjusted to specific allergens, but at this point, they don’t provide a full menu catering to specific allergies or diets. They list all ingredients and allergens in their recipes. These can be viewed by clicking on the recipes here: https://dinnerly.com/menu. 

Do they do breakfasts, lunches and desserts?

Yes…ish. These recipes aren’t available every week, but they offer brunch and desserts during special occasions – for example, Easter, Mother’s Day, and Thanksgiving, among others.

Do you need ingredients in addition to the goods delivered?

Yes, you’ll need some basics like oil and salt. They’ll let you know what you’ll need before you order, and they’ll send you a reminder of what to have on hand with your shipping confirmation.

Is Dinnerly a subscription service?

It is. But they get that you may not want to cook every week, so their service is entirely flexible. You can skip any week that doesn’t work for you, or pause your subscription anytime. You can also change the number of portions you’d like to cook.