The Greatest Meal Equipment Supply Providers for 2020

The Sun Basket meal set delivery service with its ingredients in front of the delivery box.Photo: Sarah Kobos

Our choice

Sun basket

Almost all of Sun Basket’s ingredients are organically grown, and all meals are designed for people with various dietary restrictions. It offers simple recipes that, on average, took less time to complete than meals from other kits we tried.

For who it is: Sun Basket offers meals for many special diets, from vegetarian to paleo. This is the best option when you need to avoid certain things like gluten or dairy products. I want help getting started on a particular diet. or just want to see what you are eating in general.

Why we like it: Unlike any other kit we’ve tried, Sun Basket lets you choose from meals that meet a wide variety of needs. You will find tons of meals to put in your box every week, whether you are a vegetarian, pescatarian, paleo, gluten free, lactose intolerant, soy free, or diabetic. As a result, meals overall feel healthier than those from other services, even if you don’t adhere to a particular diet. Plus, Sun Basket is one of two meal sets that are a USDA certified organic retailer (the other is Green Chef). We also found that Sun Basket sends more prepared ingredients like sauces, which noticeably shortens cooking times for our testers.

In contrast to our other picks, Sun Basket sends almost exclusively organic ingredients. Photo: Sarah Kobos

We like that Sun Basket, as a certified organic service, promises that over 99 percent of its products are organic and labeled as such. All seafood is rated as the best choice or alternative by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, and all meat and dairy products come from sustainably bred, hormone- and antibiotic-free animals. And unlike every other service we’ve tried, Sun Basket even lets you switch your protein for many of its meals. For example, you can swap salmon for trout, for example switch from chicken thighs to organic chicken breast, or switch from sirloin to organic rib eye (which costs extra).

While most of the other kits we tested contain very few pre-made ingredients besides the occasional spice mix, Sun Basket often contains ready-made sauces such as curry or pesto. Sometimes you can even get something like pre-cooked braised pork shoulder. All of these prepared products make it easy to cook meals faster. Our testers spent an average of 45 minutes cooking meals from Blue Apron, Marley Spoon, and Plated, but an average of only 35 minutes cooking Sun Basket meals. And since we finished testing, Sun Basket has even added some “super-fast” meals to its menu that are supposed to be cooked in 10 to 15 minutes. However, the downside of pre-made ingredients is that you are less able to customize a recipe to suit your tastes. If you like the sauce, great. If not, the whole meal could be ruined. As one of our reviewers noted, preparing sauces means you won’t learn how to make them and you won’t be able to recreate the recipe.

Multiple taco plates made with the Sun Basket meal set delivery service. These Sun Basket tacos came with a pre-cooked pork shoulder, which significantly reduced the cooking time. Photo: Sarah Kobos

Sun Basket offers some flexibility in subscriptions, but not as much as Marley Spoon. You can choose to only order two meals a week or increase your order from three to four meals. However, you cannot get additional servings unless you completely change your subscription.

Sun Basket was similar to Marley Spoon in that the packaging used a good mix of paper and plastic, at least in terms of meal set standards. We estimated that the box insulation was made from recycled paper and that the ingredients for each meal were organized in paper bags. There’s still plastic in those bags, and it’s still a lot of junk overall, but it was less plastic than the one Blue Apron used.

Defects, but not deal breakers: With the now discontinued Plated, Sun Basket is on the rise as one of the most expensive per-serving meal sets in our original tests. In contrast to other services, the price doesn’t drop as much if you order four instead of two servings. The price is understandable as Sun Basket focuses exclusively on organic ingredients. However, if you order boxes on a weekly basis, it is still a big hassle.

Perhaps because of Sun Basket’s organic commitment, it seems to have more problems getting enough of everything. In almost every box, we found that one or more vegetables had been swapped for something else – broccoli instead of Brussels sprouts, or Swiss chard instead of mustard greens. The swaps rarely had a negative impact on the meal, but they can be disappointing if you’ve got your heart set on a particular vegetable.

Our vegetarian testers appreciated the variety of options Sun Basket offered them each week and that more meals were delivered with proteins such as tofu and tempeh. But they also felt that Sun Basket was too health conscious at times. As one person put it, “Most of Sun Basket’s vegetarian meals tried to check a number of other boxes: vegan, dairy-free, soy-free.” That’s fine if that’s what you want to eat, but disappointing if you’re a vegetarian who likes cheese.

Sun Basket sends out a catalog of all of the recipes for the week (including the ones you didn’t order). Photo: Sarah Kobos

While all of the other kits we tested send you a single large recipe card for each meal, Sun Basket sends you a small catalog of all of the recipes for the week, including those you didn’t order. This may not feel like such a waste of paper if you could use all of the recipes. Unfortunately, Sun Basket doesn’t include measurements in its recipes, so you can only cook them if you have the pre-measured ingredients out of your box. In contrast, all of the other kits we recommend provide recipes with what you would find in a cookbook so you can make them over and over again.

Technical specifications:

  • Price: $ 11 to $ 13 per serving for two or four people
  • Food selection per week: 14, four of which are vegetarians with a two- or four-person subscription
  • Subscription sizes: two, three or four meals a week for a two or four person subscription

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