When domestic goddess Martha Stewart calls something a “good thing,” you pay attention. She’s partnered with Marley Spoon, our favorite among the best meal kit delivery services, to bring her carefully tested recipes into your kitchen.
I love to cook and I do it often, so a meal kit isn’t necessarily for the likes of me. Still, the convenience and ease of meal kits speak to anyone with a busy schedule, like me. A box filled with fresh, quality ingredients that comes right to your doorstep? Recipes vetted by Stewart? Yes and yes, please.
Marley Spoon’s weekly lineup of 40 recipes caters to all kinds of dietary needs, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, kid-friendly and healthy eating. The range of plans will suit most family units, while the variety of cuisines should please more adventurous eaters.
Of course, it all boils down to whether Marley Spoon is worth the expense. Read my review to see what I decided after trying the service.
Marley Spoon review: Prices
Marley Spoon offers two plans based on whether you need a box for two or four people. Then, the service gives you a choice of two to six meals in each box. All boxes have an $8.99 shipping fee.
The prices vary depending on the number of people and meals. For two people, two meals are $11.99 per portion and six meals are $9.49. For four people, two meals are $9.99 per portion and six meals are $8.49.
In my box, I decided to get three meals for two people ($10.49/portion). It seemed like the best choice for me, schedule- and price-wise.
Marley Spoon review: Shipping and delivery
Once you’ve selected a plan, Marley Spoon prompts you to pick a delivery day of the week. You can change your delivery day with advance notice, usually at least a week ahead of time.
Unlike grocery delivery services, you can’t narrow it down to a timeslot of a few hours. The delivery will take place on the day of the week between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.. If you’re not at home when the box is delivered, don’t worry — Marley Spoon ships everything with cold packs. My Marley Spoon box arrived on the appointed day and within the window, and all ingredients felt appropriately chilled.
Overabundant packaging has long been my biggest gripe with meal kits. Marley Spoon claims that reducing packaging is a priority. The outer cardboard box and inner thermal liner are recyclable (though any included foil pouches are not). The ice packs contain a non-toxic, non-hazardous substance that can be discarded in the trash. Some produce items don’t come wrapped, but proteins, condiments and other ingredients are contained in plastic.
I get that pre-portioned ingredients are kind of the point of meal kits; I just hope the services keep working on the amount of waste they generate.
Marley Spoon review: Recipes
The recipe selection is where Marley Spoon truly shines. The service offers more than 40 recipes per week and the variety of cuisines, proteins and cookery is surpassed only by the more expensive Sunbasket. Their menu has a better balance of interesting, more complicated recipes and quick-and-easy crowd-pleasers on Marley Spoon than HelloFresh.
In a recent week, the recipes included garlic-butter steak and creamed greens, tomato-poached fish, Cajun dirty rice, Thai shrimp salad, bulgogi burger, veggie sweet potato chili, cheesy turkey enchiladas and BBQ meat-free sloppy joes.
Another week offered chicken and broccoli lo mein, lemon and dill salmon, Philly roast pork sandwich, tomato-basil ravioli, falafel platter, vegan jerk black beans and rice, and creamy skillet Tuscan shrimp.
Each week’s menu also has a number of dessert and breakfast specials, including flourless chocolate cake, bacon-Swiss egg bites, hot cross buns with raisins and salted caramel oat bars.
For my box, I wanted lean proteins (with at least one seafood dish), enticing flavors and ease of cooking, as it was a busy week. I chose skillet chicken fajitas, roasted tilapia with herbed panko and a 20-minute Italian wedding soup.
Marley Spoon review: Cooking the meals
After receiving my box, I unpacked all the ingredients. Most of them looked whole, undamaged and fresh (there was one sad, slightly withered carrot). Each recipe required different amounts of time and effort, so I wanted to make sure they helped maximize my schedule that week.
Right off the bat, I decided to make the Italian wedding soup for a work-from-home lunch. The recipe card designated the level as “easy” and the serving time as 15-20 minutes. Looking over the instructions, I saw why it was so easy — ready-to-heat meatballs. The only real work I had to do was chop some garlic, carrots and snap peas. Eventually, the vegetables went into a pot with the meatballs, orzo and chicken broth. Less than half an hour later, I sat down with a steaming bowl of savory soup. In fact, it went so quickly, I forgot to snap pictures along the way!
The roasted tilapia with herbed panko was perfect for a weeknight meal to cook in 20-30 minutes. The recipe was labeled “easy,” though it took a bit more effort and skill than the soup. I chopped potatoes, thyme and almonds; grated and juiced a lemon; and mixed a dressing. Still, the cooking was mostly smooth.
The only hiccup was a mistake I made — not using an ovenproof skillet, as the instructions said. I sautéed the tilapia in a nonstick pan, then belatedly realized that it needed to roast in the oven. A quick transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet saved the meal (and my hangry partner). So, the moral of this story is: carefully read the recipe before starting!
I held the chicken fajitas for the weekend because I guessed (correctly) that they would take longer than 20-30 minutes to make. The recipe called for a lot of chopping and prep work, including breaking down chicken breasts into strips. I highly recommend a sharp knife; it makes cutting easier and faster. I also had to char the flour tortillas one by one in a skillet.
Once everything was prepped, the meal came together quickly. The result tasted pretty good, but Marley Spoon (and most meal kits) tends to hold back a bit on flavor and spice.
I get it — they want their food to appeal to a wide audience. I didn’t find it to be a big problem with any of my meals. For the fajitas, I dashed on some of my favorite hot sauce. The soup got a few extra cracks of black pepper, while the fish just needed finishing salt.
Marley Spoon review: Verdict
While Marley Spoon isn’t the most inexpensive meal kit service, it really hits the sweet spot of offering variety and quality ingredients at a decent value. The weekly menus are more ambitious, adventurous and advanced than competitors like Hello Fresh — no surprise since the service has partnered with Stewart.
I found the website’s sign-up process and recipe selection easy to navigate. Changing the delivery day or skipping a week was simple. Recipes are clearly labeled with dietary restrictions such as dairy-free and low carb, as well as pertinent labels like “one-pot meal” and “kid-friendly.” Cooking is a breeze (as long as you follow the instructions).
If you’re a novice in the kitchen or have a busy schedule, Marley Spoon is a great way to incorporate more delicious home-cooked meals into your life without sacrificing too much time, energy or money.