Hungryroot is a meal delivery service that ships the main ingredients needed to create two to eight recipes per week to your home. After signing up, you can let the service decide what meals you’ll try each week, or you can take a more hands-on approach and tweak your selections before delivery.
Regardless of how involved you choose to be, Hungryroot strives to make it easy for people to manage their health by focusing on natural ingredients. I signed up for the service to test the quality, ease and cost-effectiveness. In this Hungryroot review, I relay my experience and discuss whether I feel Hungryroot can help people save time and money.
Hungryroot, a fresh ingredient meal subscription service, can potentially cut down your overall grocery expenses. Having ingredients and recipes for easy-to-make meals delivered to your home can keep you eating there, instead of at restaurants, making it a good option for those who struggle to find the time for meal planning and shopping. But while the food is excellent, the service may not be the most cost-effective option if your goal is to save as much as possible on your food bill.
- Deliveries are personalized for your tastes.
- The service has numerous cuisine options to choose from.
- You can customize your meals and add-ons.
- Recipes are easy and have limited prep time.
- It’s difficult to determine the price for individual items.
- You can’t remove individual ingredients from a scheduled meal.
- You can’t sign up for more than 16 meal servings per week.
- The lowest cost-per-serving plan is $9.69 per serving.
What Is Hungryroot?
Hungryroot is all about making it as easy as possible to eat healthy. After answering questions about the number of people you need to feed, your eating goals, dietary needs, preferences, and available kitchen tools, Hungryroot develops a meal plan to meet those needs.
Note: Meal planning is one of the most important steps in eating healthy on a budget.
Hungryroot ships food with pronounceable ingredients and the corresponding recipes are easy and quick to make. Because the service makes eating at home easier, subscribers are theoretically more likely to do just that, which should reduce expenses as the number of restaurant trips decrease.
Hungryroot offers the main ingredients needed to make a meal, with the expectation that you have kitchen staples like salt, pepper and olive oil on hand.
Here are five key things to know:
- Hungryroot deliveries start at $75.33. Hungryroot claims they start at $65, but I couldn’t make a plan for less than $75.33. The price increases with the number of meals you receive.
- You have to purchase a meal plan. To purchase items a la carte, you need to remove the Hungryroot-generated meals and replace them with individual items.
- Deliveries include ingredients for two to eight recipes, as well as whatever individual grocery items you’d like to add.
- You can choose between a two-serving or four-serving plan.
- There is no trial offer, but you can skip a delivery, pause your subscription, or cancel at any time.
How Does Hungryroot Work?
Hungryroot is a fairly straightforward meal subscription service. You sign up for a weekly plan, answer a few questions about the number of meals per week you need and what kind of foods you like, and then you’re good to go. Throughout your subscription, you can let Hungryroot do all the work and eat whatever the service sends you, or you can log in, swap meals for your upcoming order, and/or add on individual grocery items for between-meal snacks (or to make non-plan meals).
Initial Screening Quiz
For Hungryroot to know how much and what kind of food to send, you take a quiz as part of the sign-up process.
The key decision points center around:
- Who you’re shopping for: yourself, you and one other person, or four total household members.
- What your goals are: save time, waste less, improve health, etc.
- How you eat: whether you have dietary restrictions.
- How much time you want to spend: for food prep and cooking.
- What appliances you use: stove, microwave, air fryer, blender, etc.
- What’s your favorite:
- Cuisines: Thai, Italian, American, etc.
- Flavors: cheesy, sweet, savory, etc.
- Proteins: fish, meats, plant-based, etc.
- Heat level: from cayenne to bell peppers.
- What are your dislikes: tomato, garlic, cilantro, etc.
- How many meals: for breakfast, lunch/dinner, snacks or sweets you want daily.
This is a more extensive screening process than some of the other meal delivery services we’ve tested and results in a customized meal plan that’s centered around the types of things you already like to eat.
Subscriptions vs. A La Carte
Based on your quiz answers, Hungryroot will suggest a plan size (two to four servings per meal, even if you’re only cooking for yourself) and a recommended number of servings for each meal or snack type. It will also provide an average cost per serving and the total cost for the plan.
Before signing up, you can update the servings by meal type or swap between plan types, and the cost for the plan will update accordingly. You can adjust the meals included in your plan for each delivery, or you could remove the meals and add individual items in their place, but the default from Hungryroot will be meals as opposed to a la carte.
Recipes and Shopping
Once you sign up, you can log into your account to see your past and upcoming orders. The recipes are simple, which in my experience means easy and quick, not bad. You can choose to skip future orders or you can log in to see what’s on the menu.
When I clicked into my next order, I saw that Hungryroot was planning to send me a 13-minute Thai coconut curry stir-fry and a 22-minute lemon pepper chicken recipe. Both meet the Zeigler family’s “25 minutes or less” rule but, lemon pepper isn’t my favorite. Instead, I chose a different meal by clicking the “Edit Delivery” button in the top right corner.
I was able to browse Hungryroot’s selections. At the bottom of the screen, you can see that my plan includes 36 total “credits.”
When I deleted the lemon pepper chicken from my order, I had credits to spare; I could either add a new meal or a bunch of a la carte items to use my 36 credits.
If, however, my credit total exceeds my allotted credits, my total order price creeps above my typical weekly plan cost.
Selection and Pricing
My major complaint with Hungryroot is the pricing. While pricey overall, the biggest problem is that the price of each individual item is incredibly hard to determine.
Hungryroot’s website doesn’t clearly state the prices of the various plans. I pulled the following charts together by logging into my plan, editing it for different serving sizes, and then making note of the resulting cost. (I focused on lunch and dinner in my analysis.)
Hungryroot 2-person plan cost:
|Servings||Cost Per Serving||Credits||Plan Cost||Cost Per Credit|
Hungryroot four-person plan cost:
|Servings||Cost Per Serving||Credits||Plan Cost||Cost per Credit|
Based on my calculations, a lunch or dinner serving costs between $9.69 and $12.55, for a total weekly cost of $75.33 and $155.04.
My four-person plan would have cost me $105.10 (without my first-order discount) and I only bought ingredients for two dinners for four people and five sweet snacks.
My plan price seemed high, so I tried to figure out what was driving the costs. However, none of the items on the site have a price associated with them and prices weren’t included on the packing slip.
In order to determine the actual price of the items in my order, I had to open and edit my next order. As I showed above, adding additional items to my plan pushes my total cost above my normal plan price.
So, I added items and then did the math to determine that $7.96 of added cost/4 credits = $1.99 per credit.
Next, I looked up each individual item from my previous order in the a la carte section to determine how many credits each was worth. That allowed me to determine the approximate cost of each item.
|Item Purchased||Credits||Approximate Price Equivalent|
|Almond butter brownie||1||$1.99|
|Chocolate babka slice||1||$1.99|
|Cucumber corn black bean salad||6 (3 credits x 2 containers)||$11.94|
|Grass-fed beef meatballs||5||$9.95|
|Chocolate chip cookies||0.5||$1.00|
|Mini chocolate donuts||2||$3.98|
|Sweet potato cups||1||$1.99|
|Naan||6 (3 credits x 2 containers)||$11.94|
|Green leaf lettuce||2||$3.98|
|Wild caught shrimp||10 (5 credits x 2 containers)||$19.90|
|Almond chickpea cookie dough||FREE||$0.00|
Using my estimation, my groceries should have totaled $84.58. My subtotal according to Hungryroot was $105.10. My assumption is that the difference of $20.52 is a base cost that offsets the cost of the packaging, the “free” shipping, and the “free” cookie dough.
My Experience Ordering Through Hungryroot
How I Tested Hungryroot
The quiz and the ordering process was simple. I spent about 10 minutes signing up for the service from my phone, and my first order showed up exactly one week later. This is what it looked like upon arrival.
My delivery arrived on the day I expected. I received a reminder email the day before and the morning of, along with a text message once it was actually sitting on my porch.
The packaging was compact and the paper cooler and insert were completely recyclable.
The EnviroIce ice pack is a #4 plastic bag (also recyclable in some areas) filled with a drain-safe liquid. The defrosted material can be washed down the sink or can double as a nitrogen-based plant food. I have a brown thumb, so I poured the entire bag on a dying bush in my front yard; the verdict is pending but kudos to Hungryroot for the focus on sustainability.
Meat and Seafood
Hungryroot included two packs of fresh-caught shrimp in my order. They were placed inside a separate plastic bag (to protect the rest of the groceries from their fishiness). Both packs were placed right on top of the ice pack and arrived still partially frozen, which gave me comfort that they were kept cold enough during transport.
The grass-fed beef meatballs were nestled in right next to the shrimp. They were thawed but still extremely cold to the touch.
The only true produce that came with my meal was lettuce, so I’m unfortunately working with a small sample size. The lettuce was packed in plastic, which I don’t love from a waste-creation standpoint. However, that plastic did its job and the lettuce arrived in perfect condition.
While not “produce” per se, the bean salad that was used in my taco salad came premixed in two plastic containers. This reduced the need for me to open a can of beans, cut up the spices and veggies, and mix everything together. The bean salad tasted fresh and is likely one of the main reasons I was able to make a fancy-looking shrimp salad in less than 10 minutes.
The pantry items were sprinkled throughout the box. Although I didn’t recognize a single brand, I could read the names of all of the ingredients. Everything was well within its expiration date and looked as good as if it had just been pulled off the supermarket shelf. I tried all of the sweet snacks, which were also made from natural ingredients, and everything was delicious.
Hungryroot Recipes Test
I try to cook at home as much as possible. That said, I use the term “cook” loosely. Work hours, homework and evening sports practices dictate that dinner at the Zeigler home be fast.
I typically make something like tacos, or chicken with vegetables or a salad. When time is really running short or I’m super stressed, I’ll declare a “make your own dinner night,” which means that everyone fends for themselves and most likely eats a bowl of cereal.
So in order for a meal plan to work for me, it needs to offer recipes with a combined prep and cook time of 25 minutes or less.
A few initial Hungyroot observations…
Both recipes were simple and delicious, and were prepped and cooked in less than 20 minutes.
The only two notable drawbacks were:
- One of the recipes required additional ingredients that weren’t included in the delivery. Granted, they were kitchen staples (olive oil, salt, and pepper) that I had on hand. But I don’t remember Hungryroot telling me in advance that I would need additional items.
- Hungryroot’s take on “no heat” does not align with mine. My dinner was followed by a very dramatic episode where my son thought he was having an allergic reaction to the shrimp dish. In reality, I think his mouth was just on fire from the spice. Even my husband, who agreed that the taste was excellent, needed a small glass of milk to calm his taste buds after our “no heat” taco salad.
Recipe #1: Zesty Shrimp Taco Salad
Here’s a picture of what this dish is supposed to look like, according to Hungryroot:
Here’s what it looked like in reality:
Recipe #2: Meatball Marinara Naan Pizza
I wasn’t able to find a picture of the final product for this one. I guess Hungryroot figured there was no way to make this meal look appetizing! Don’t judge a book by its cover, though; the meatball pizza was very tasty.
Here are the pictures that were provided:
And here’s how the recipe turned out:
Not only did Hungryroot deliver easy and quick recipes, I think the end product turned out exceptionally well. Minus the mismatch on what is considered spicy, my test was largely successful.
Hungryroot vs. Alternatives
There is an ever-increasing number of meal plans and delivery services. Here’s how a select few stack up against Hungryroot.
Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market
When compared to services like Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market, Hungryroot is expensive. However, their respective goals are also a bit different.
The former focus on primarily raw foods and kitchen staples, whereas Hungryroot is a meal planning service. I’d say if inexpensive and fresh produce is your goal, try Imperfect Foods. For bulk pantry stock-up orders, Misfits Market is a better option. For complete meals, Hungryroot or Anycart is a better option.
Learn more in our Imperfect Foods review and Mistfits Market review.
My personal favorite, Anycart, is similar to Hungryroot in that both offer customers what is needed to make meals. Although Hungryroot has a clearer focus on healthy and natural ingredients, I prefer Anycart for three reasons:
- Hungryroot recipes are all or nothing, meaning that if you choose a particular recipe, you receive all the ingredients necessary to make the dish regardless of what you already have on hand. For example, when Hungryroot suggested meatball pizza for my family, I unsuccessfully tried to save a few dollars by dropping the cheese from my order since I already had two full bags of mozzarella in the fridge. Anycart allows users to deselect ingredients from their order to account for what they have at home.
- Hungryroot only ships meals weekly. If you need more frequent deliveries, you’re out of luck. Anycart uses local stores and delivery companies, which eliminates the need for delivery boxes and ice packs, and also provides flexibility around the frequency of deliveries.
- With Anycart, I was able to add just about anything my grocery store carries, whether that was bandaids, Cadbury eggs or a gallon of milk. While Hungryroot allows you to include snacks, additional fresh foods and sauces, the overall selection just can’t compare to what’s available at my local grocer.
Learn more in our Anycart review.
Organic Meat Delivery Services
I received four servings of shrimp and four servings of meatballs in my Hungryroot order that most likely cost me $19.90 and $9.95, respectively. (See the My Experience section above for details on why I can’t be quite sure how much anything at Hungryroot really costs.)
The quality and freshness of the seafood and meat was excellent; however, if you are a meat-heavy family there may be more economical options.
In our review of organic meat delivery services we outline the pros and cons of several popular services. Crowd Cow took the lead for overall cost and quality; however, Hungryroot is a better option for people who want the ease of all ingredients delivered together.
No, Hungryroot does not currently accept EBT payments.
Hungryroot currently offers a discount on initial deliveries over $99 (mine was 30%) along with a free gift (your choice of almond chickpea cookie dough or a weekly vegetable or protein).
In addition to enjoying some tasty cookies, I stacked additional savings because I have the Drop app (see our Drop app review).
Drop is a cash-back platform that offers rewards when you spend money at select merchants. The card I used to sign up for Hungryroot is linked to my Drop account, and I earned 10,000 Drop points (which is worth a $10 gift card) for making a Hungryroot purchase.
No, Hungryroot does not allow you to use manufacturer’s coupons for the ingredients you purchase online.
Hungryroot Review: Final verdict
Hungryroot offers a user-friendly interface and tasty meals with fresh ingredients that are easy to make. For that convenience you may need to stomach a higher price point than you’d like.
If you are likely to make adjustments to your meal plan, Anycart is a better option as it doesn’t mark up grocery store prices, allows you to easily edit recipes for items you already have, and gives you a significantly wider selection to choose from.
If your goal is to truly set it and forget it — i.e., sign up and allow Hungryroot to fully dictate your meals — I can see how the service would be a great addition to a busy household willing to pay a bit extra for the convenience.
But there are better ways to save money on groceries if your goal is to aggressively cut your food expenses.