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Sun Basket vs. HelloFresh: Which Subscription's for Me?

Sun Basket vs. HelloFresh

Comparing Two Top Meal Kit Subscriptions

Here at My Subscription Addiction, we love trying out different meal kit delivery services. There are so many out there to choose from, and sometimes it can be tricky to figure out what sets them each apart. Today, I’m going to look at two of the most popular subscription services: Sun Basket and HelloFresh.

On the surface, these two meal services look a lot alike. They’re both extremely popular, offer plans that can suit a number of different diets, and deliver chef-designed recipes and all the pre-portioned, fresh ingredients you’ll need to make healthy meals at home in your own kitchen. But when you start to look closely, Sun Basket and HelloFresh aren’t quite as similar as they may seem at first. In this article, I’ll stack them up side-by-side to help you figure out which one is right for you. Read on to find out more about the food, recipes, packaging, cooking process, and more!

by Lindsey Morse, Taste-Tester Extraordinaire
November 16, 2020| 6 comments

Sun Basket vs. HelloFresh

To really break down what sets these boxes apart, I’m going to compare them in a number of different ways. I’ll see how each subscription performs in the following categories: flavors, recipes, ingredients, accommodations for special diets, packaging, price, and overall convenience. Feel free to use the Table of Contents on the left to navigate. You can skip forward to a specific section or jump straight to the final verdict. Or, if you’re in for the long haul, keep on reading!

Here’s what I’ve found to be the most notable differences (and similarities) between these two meal kit services:

The Food

Before we can look at anything else, we have to ask the most important question first: how’s the food? Is it tasty? Well, I’m happy to report that both of these boxes consistently serve up dishes that are creative and delicious. That said, there are some key differences.

Sun Basket Huevos Rancheros Dish Prepared

Image from our review.

Sun Basket is ingredient-driven. They have a dedication to fresh, clean ingredients, and the dishes are inspired by seasonality. Global flavors abound, and many of the dishes would be at home on the menu of a quirky bistro. You’ll find meals that are paleo, gluten-free, diabetes-friendly, veggie-friendly, pescatarian, and Mediterranean-inspired. Foodies take note: Sun Basket recipes are developed by Justine Kelly of San Francisco’s famous James Beard award-winning restaurant, The Slanted Door. Unsurprisingly, the food tends to be adventurous and surprising. (Think Shanghainese Meatballs with Cabbage, Thai Lettuce Cups, and Char Siu and Italian Sausages with Vegetable Skewers and Two Romescos.)

Image from our review.

I find HelloFresh often features dishes that feel like professional versions of familiar favorites; I’d expect to see their recipes on the menu at a cozy cafe. You’ll still see exciting flavor combinations on the menu (Ancho BBQ Sloppy Joes with Pickle Slices & Oven Gold Potatoes), and global flavors pop up from time to time (Pork & Caramelized Pineapple Tacos with Pickled Veggies & Lime Crema), but overall I think the dishes skew more classic and family-friendly. If you’re a picky eater or tend to seek out meals that are classic and comforting, HelloFresh might fit you better than Sun Basket.

To get a better idea of what you can expect to see on future menus, you can compare upcoming recipes for these meal kit delivery services (and many more like Home Chef, Blue Apron, and Green Chef) by reading my weekly menu roundup!

 

What about portion sizes? 

I have a pretty good appetite. (I’m one of these people that tends to eat like a bird during the day and then dig in at dinnertime.) It’s important to me that my supper leaves me full and satisfied, and I’ve been pleased with the portion sizes from both HelloFresh and Sun Basket. In my experience, portion sizes can vary depending on the recipe, but overall, I’ve found that both companies send meals that are large enough to leave me (and my often-hungrier husband) feeling full. In some cases, I’ve even found that I have enough for leftovers.

The Menu

Like all of the best meal kit subscriptions, Sun Basket and HelloFresh offer rotating menus that change weekly. In both cases, you can view upcoming recipes in advance and choose which meals you’d like to receive. Both boxes also offer a fairly extensive menu (around 20 vs. 23); however, depending on the specific diet you follow, one box might better fit your needs.

Image via Sun Basket.

With Sun Basket, you can choose from 9 different meal plans: Chef’s Choice, Fresh & Ready, Paleo, Lean & Clean, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Mediterranean, and Diabetes-Friendly. There are around 20 recipes available each week, and you can always mix and match any of the available recipes, regardless of which plan you choose to follow. If you want to pick up some snacks, breakfast, or additional protein, you can also stock up on pantry essentials. The Sun Basket market has add-ons like cheese, seafood, and waffles that you can tack on to your weekly order.

Image via HelloFresh.

There are 23 different meal options to choose from every week on the HelloFresh menu, and you can opt for the Classic Plan or customize your box with the following preferences: Beef-Free, Pork-Free, Seafood-Free, Veggie, Calorie Smart, Quick, Variety, and Family-Friendly. Selecting one of these customization options won’t change the menu that’s available, but it will ensure that the recipes that are auto-selected for you are ones that will work for your diet. (Note that you can always override these preferences and choose whichever meals you like.)

The Recipes

Every shipment from Sun Basket contains a booklet that includes the recipes for all of the week’s featured meals. (In addition to providing cooking instructions, the booklet includes wine pairing suggestions, tips for how kids can help cook, and detailed nutrition and allergy information!) There’s a large photo of the completed dish, and the instructions are detailed and clear. It’s important to note that while the recipes often feel adventurous, the cooking instructions are surprisingly straightforward. I also like that the menu booklet includes recipes for all of the week’s meals, even those you didn’t order. Most subscription meal kits (like HelloFresh) send individual cards for each recipe. The full booklet is like a mini-cookbook, and it feels like a bonus to me. 

Things I love about Sun Basket recipes:

  • Each recipe has a suggested wine pairing.
  • Nutrition and allergy information is clearly outlined.
  • Instructions are clear and straightforward.
  • Sun Basket calls out ways kids can help cook.

Instead of sending a booklet with all of the week’s recipes, HelloFresh sends a two-sided recipe card, and every card provides calorie info, ingredients, difficulty level, items you’ll need to prepare the dish, easy to follow instructions, and full-color pictures to accompany each step. The photos of each step can be a great help for visual learners (like me!), as well as inexperienced home cooks looking for regular confirmation that they’re on the right track. But what happens if you get stumped while cooking? Not to fear! You can always call HelloFresh for help. They include their phone number at the bottom of every recipe.

Things I love about HelloFresh recipes:

  • Two-sided recipe cards.
  • Difficulty ratings.
  • Full-color photos accompany for step.
  • Calorie info is clearly outlined.
  • Stumped? Call HelloFresh for help!

No matter what your level of cooking experience, both HelloFresh and Sun Basket send recipes that set you up for success. I definitely know my way around the kitchen, but even if you’re new to cooking I think you’ll find recipes from both companies clear and easy to follow. One thing to call out is that Sun Basket provides more thorough nutrition and allergy information directly on the recipe card. If you have food allergies, are watching your macros, or want a full outline of the nutritional content of your meal, you’re likely to appreciate this. HelloFresh also provides nutritional information, but it’s only available online.

One tip: regardless of which box you choose and how comfortable you are in the kitchen, I always recommend taking a peek at the full recipe before adding a meal to your box.

Plans & Pricing

When you look at the plans available from Sun Basket and HelloFresh, it’s no contest. HelloFresh is the more affordable option by a pretty comfortable margin. You’ll pay for shipping costs with both subscriptions ($7.99 for Sun Basket and $8.99 for HelloFresh), but Sun Basket meals cost between $10.99- $12.99, and the average price of a serving from HelloFresh is only $8.99. (Though, premium options are available and cost more.)

Regardless of which subscription you choose, you’ll likely find a plan that works for you. Whether you’re after a family menu or just looking for a two-person plan, both subscriptions have you covered.

HelloFresh delivers to the contiguous United States. Sun Basket ships to most zip codes in the contiguous United States except for some areas in MT, NM, and ND. Neither company ships to Hawaii or Alaska.

Here’s a full outline of all the available plans with pricing:

Sun Basket Plans & Pricing

Image via Sun Basket.

  • 2 Person Plans:
    • 2 meals per week, 2 servings each, for $51.96 + $7.99 shipping
    • 3 meals per week, 2 servings each, for $71.94 + $7.99 shipping
    • 4 meals per week, 2 servings each, for $87.92 + $7.99 shipping
  • 4 Person Family Plans:
    • 2 meals per week, 4 servings each, for $103.92 + $7.99 shipping
    • 3 meals per week, 4 servings each, for $143.88 + $7.99 shipping
    • 4 meals per week, 4 servings each, for $175.84 + $7.99 shipping

Sun Basket COUPON: Get $35 off plus 4 free gifts! No coupon needed - just use this link.

HelloFresh Plans & Pricing

Image via HelloFresh.

  • 2 Person Plans:
    • 3 meals per week, 2 servings each:
      • $53.94 + $8.99 shipping
    • 4 meals per week, 2 servings each:
      • $71.92 + $8.99 shipping
    • 5 meals per week, 2 serving each:
      • $89.90 + $8.99 shipping
  • 4 Person Family Plans:
    • 2 meals per week, 4 servings each:
      • $71.92 + $8.99 shipping
    • 3 meals per week, 4 servings each:
      • $89.88 + $8.99 shipping
    • 4 meals per week, 4 servings each:
      • $119.84 + $8.99 shipping

Save on your first order with our coupons! Don’t forget to use them when signing up!

HelloFresh COUPON: Expiring Soon! save up to $90 off your first five Hello Fresh orders! No coupon needed - just use this link.

Dietary Restrictions

Do you follow a special diet or have food allergies? Depending on your specific requirements and dietary preferences, Sun Basket or HelloFresh might be able to accommodate your needs. Let’s take a look at how each subscription handles their ingredients and whether their plans might work for you:

Special Diets

With 9 different meal plans to choose from, Sun Basket is designed to work for those following a number of special diets. When you sign up, you can choose from the following options: Chef’s Choice, Fresh & Ready, Paleo, Lean & Clean, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Mediterranean, and Diabetes-Friendly. In addition, you can filter recipes to see which ones are soy and dairy-free. I really appreciate how thoughtfully-designed the Sun Basket menu is, and I like that it can work for those following a number of different diets (including diabetics and those who are looking for paleo, low-calorie, carb-conscious, vegetarian, pescatarian, Mediterranean, soy-free, dairy-free, or gluten-free meals); however, it’s worth noting that each plan might not have a ton of choice available. For example, if you’re signed up for the Diabetes-Friendly plan, you may only have a handful of options every week.

HelloFresh subscribers can customize their subscription to be Beef-Free, Pork-Free, Seafood-Free, Veggie, Family-Friendly, Calorie Smart, or Quick. Apart from that, HelloFresh doesn’t cater to a lot of other special diets. Vegans may be able to omit dairy from the vegetarian recipes, but none of the meals offered are gluten-free, dairy-free, or nut-free.

Food Allergies

Sun Basket is very upfront when it comes to food allergies. They do not recommend subscribing if your allergies are severe, as their recipes are packed in a facility that handles gluten, milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.

With HelloFresh, there are a number of meals that contain potential allergens, but their dedicated nutrition team reviews every ingredient and looks for the 8 major allergens: wheat, milk, soy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, and shellfish. If an ingredient contains any of these, they make sure to note it online and on the recipe. There’s more good news: ingredients are often received and held in their original packaging, and foods are segregated in the processing facility which protects against cross-contamination. HelloFresh compares its operation to that of a large supermarket and claims that the protections they have in place are as rigorous as those in typical retail establishments. Still, they leave it up to customers to review the recipes and ingredient labels to ensure they’re avoiding any off-limit foods. Personally, I think it’s always good practice to read through recipes thoroughly and use your best discretion, especially if your allergies are severe!

The Ingredients

Sourcing

Sun Basket Ingredients

Image from our review.

If high-quality, organic ingredients and animal welfare are important to you, I highly recommend Sun Basket. The company is passionate about organic meals and non-GMO ingredients. (They hold a USDA certification relating to their organic practices.) This begins with a focus on seasonal ingredients and continues in every step of the ingredient sourcing process. If you’re used to shopping at organic grocery stores, you can expect the same (or better) standards here. Whenever possible, produce is organic, meats are raised responsibly (and free of antibiotics and added hormones), and seafood is all wild-caught and sustainably sourced. The website outlines the company’s animal welfare standards in great detail. Here are a few highlights:

  • 100% of Sun Basket’s eggs are organic and pasture-raised (free-range when pasture-raised eggs are not available).
  • 100% of chicken is fed a vegetarian diet and given the ability to roam freely.
  • 100% of beef is humanely-raised, grass-fed, and antibiotic-free.
  • 100% of pork is from ethically-run family farms, antibiotic and hormone-free, and raised in open, group environments.
  • 100% of lamb is pasture-raised and antibiotic-free.
  • 100% of seafood is wild-caught or sustainably-farmed.

Image from our review.

HelloFresh takes a more flexible approach. Some of their ingredients are organic, but not all of them. Their focus is more on ensuring subscribers have a positive cooking experience and making cooking healthier. The impression I get is that HelloFresh wants to help people eat better and consume more fruits and veggies – it’s just not a priority that they’re grown organically. When it comes to meat and seafood, however, the standards are a bit more strict. Fish is all sustainably-sourced, and meat suppliers must adhere to USDA Inspection Guidelines as well as third-party food safety audit programs. All pork and chicken is hormone-free, and HelloFresh representatives visit every meat vendor to ensure facilities are safe.

Use-By Dates

Once your Sun Basket box hits your doorstep, you should immediately unpack it and refrigerate the perishables to help prolong shelf life. Seafood recipes should be cooked first, within 3 days, and meats should be cooked within 5. Vegetables tend to stay fresh a bit longer, but any delicate greens or mushrooms should be prioritized.

HelloFresh recommends freezing your proteins when they arrive and only thawing them a few hours before you want to cook. Once thawed, the meat should be used within 5 days and seafood should be used within 2.

The Packaging

In order to safely get perishable items to your front door, a fair amount of packaging material is required. The good news is that Sun Basket and HelloFresh are both aware of this issue and aim to limit the environmental impact of their deliveries.

Image from our review.

When you order from Sun Basket, your order comes packed in a brown cardboard box. Ingredients for each recipe are separated into a paper bag. Packing materials are largely recyclable, and cutting-edge technologies are used to make everything a little easier on the planet. In the summertime, boxes are insulated with material made from 100% reclaimed denim. (How cool is that?) When you’re done cooking your meals and ready to dispose of your box, you can hop over to the Sun Basket site where you’ll find a page dedicated to helping you best reuse, compost, and recycle the packing materials.

Check out my review of Hello Fresh for June 2017!

Image from our review.

HelloFresh packaging is also largely recyclable. The box, separator, meal kits, and honeycomb liners can all be recycled curbside, and there’s a page on the website that helps you identify how to dispose of everything else. Gel ice packs can be recycled after emptying the gel filler into the trash can, summer liners can be taken to the recycling center, and winter liners go in the trash can.

Modifications & Cancellations

When it comes to adjusting your delivery schedule or stopping your subscription entirely, both of these services make life easy. You can make updates to your order in the user-friendly account portals, and you can even cancel online.

Deadlines for Order Changes:

Changed your mind about which menu options you want to receive? Both subscriptions allow for order changes up until the week before delivery. Here are the specific cutoff deadlines for making changes to your upcoming deliveries:

With Sun Basket, you can see, skip, and modify weekly deliveries up until the Wednesday before your delivery.

HelloFresh requires that all changes are made by 11.59 pm PST 5 days prior to your next scheduled delivery.

The Final Verdict

Wow, I know. That’s a lot of info. Have you decided which subscription is right for you? If not, let’s take one final look at how they stack up:

Price? When it comes to price, HelloFresh is the clear front-runner. On average, their entrees come in a few dollars less than Sun Basket, and over time that can really add up to major savings. If you’re looking for an affordable meal kit subscription that’s easy on your wallet, HelloFresh is the way to go. But when it comes to the question of value, I think the answer is less clear-cut. If eating organic is important to you, or if you follow a special diet, you’re likely to appreciate what Sun Basket has to offer. Personally, I’m happy to pay a little extra for organic produce in the grocery store, so I don’t mind spending more to have organic meals delivered to me at home. But that’s a personal preference. Let’s just say that while HelloFresh is the winner when it comes to price, I think these subscriptions are on par when it comes to value for money. 

Taste? Both Sun Basket and HelloFresh know how to design delicious meals, and I’ve been very happy with the food I’ve received from both subscriptions. When comparing the two, I think it’s helpful to think about where you might find similar dishes. For me, HelloFresh gives off “cozy cafe” vibes whereas Sun Basket is more “quirky bistro.” If you’re an adventurous eater who likes trying new foods and flavor combinations, I think you’ll really like Sun Basket. It’s a great match for foodies and those who love global cuisine. HelloFresh, on the other hand, is more likely to send familiar favorites. You’ll still find surprises on the menu and creative twists on classic dishes, but it’s less “out there.” I think it’s a better pick for families, picky eaters, and those who prefer simple comfort foods.

Recipes? In both cases, I think the recipes are straightforward and easy to follow. Overall, you can’t go wrong with either, but there are some unique features provided on each side. Sun Basket recipes are sent in a booklet, kind of like a mini-cookbook. You’ll receive all of the recipes for the week (not just the ones you pick), which I really appreciate. You’ll also find detailed nutrition and allergen information, which is great for those with food allergies or watching their macros. HelloFresh cards, on the other hand, are ranked by difficulty, which is great for beginner cooks who want to ensure they don’t get in over their heads. HelloFresh also includes a phone number you can call for help if you get stumped while cooking.

Ingredients? If where your food comes from is as important to you as how it tastes, I think you’ll be thrilled with Sun Basket. Meals are certified organic, and the company’s dedication to sustainability and animal welfare is impressive. You’ll find some organic ingredients in your HelloFresh box, but if organic food is a priority then I say go with Sun Basket

Special Diet? This category is tricky. Depending on exactly what your needs are, either box might work for you. (Though Sun Basket caters to a larger number of special diets.) Let’s break it down. If you’re looking for meals that are paleo, low-calorie, low-carb, gluten-free, vegetarian, pescatarian, Mediterranean, soy-free, dairy-free, or diabetes-friendly, check out Sun Basket. If you’re vegetarian, counting calories, looking for quick meals, or avoiding pork, beef, or seafood, HelloFresh‘s customization options should work for you. 

Convenience? I can’t pick a winner here. Both boxes offer pre-portioned ingredients that are grouped by meal, easy to follow recipes, and user-friendly online portals. They’re both extremely convenient and will save you the time it takes to plan out meals and go grocery shopping.

 

Final Thoughts: If you’re looking for a solid box that delivers tasty meals without breaking the bank, you can’t go wrong with HelloFresh. It’s a great choice for families, as well as those who enjoy meals that are classic and comforting. But if you’re a hip foodie who cares equally about how your food tastes and where it comes from, I think Sun Basket is the box for you!


Ready to give one of these boxes a try? Check out these coupons to score some free meals!

Sun Basket COUPON: Get $35 off plus 4 free gifts! No coupon needed - just use this link.

HelloFresh COUPON: Expiring Soon! save up to $90 off your first five Hello Fresh orders! No coupon needed - just use this link.


Have you tried one (or both) of these meal kits? Share your experience in the comments!

Written by Lindsey Morse

Lindsey Morse

Lindsey is a professional baker, cold brew coffee addict, and rosé aficionado who loves writing about food and wine. When she’s not sharing her love of subscription boxes with the world, you’ll find her in the podcasting studio, perfecting her cake decorating techniques, or cursing her way through the New York Times daily crossword puzzle.

Comments (6)

  1. I have tried both Sunbasket and Hello Fresh. I prefer Hello Fresh because I find their recipes are easier to re-create.

  2. I’d rather order $80-$100 in Chinese food to the door and eat on that for 3-4 days lunch and dinner.

    • Yep, not for you then. Personally I really enjoy cooking but loathe grocery shopping because I always forget one item, or my kids eat the last egg on the day I was going to make a meatloaf. This solves that problem for me 🙂

      It is NOT budget friendly, I will say that. $20 for chicken and rice or chickpeas and quinoa is a bad deal. But its worth it to me to have everything on hand, not have to figure out a menu and not have to wander the aisles.

      I also really enjoy making these messages with my son- hes 5 and can help with washing, peeling, chopping, measuring and mixing. It gets him excited to try new foods (gotta see how his work turned out!) And that’s worth quite a bit to me.

      Absolutely not for everyone though!!! In fact it took me a few different services to find the best one for my family, and even then i do skip weeks fairly often (Hello Fresh is the one I prefer). I just wanted to share what I enjoy about it, incase others hadn’t considered those aspects.

  3. As a pescatarian, I’m excited to try Sunbasket. Hello fresh didn’t have many exciting vegetarian or pescatarian recipes…as in I couldn’t find a second week that had enough recipes I wanted. Also, I love the Sunbasket Fresh and Ready meals; convenience is key to me in the busy fourth quarter. Hello fresh recipes were too simple – not too much different from what I would make – and requires too much prep.

  4. I’ve tried both and I think my favorite by far is HelloFresh, although after 3 years with them I am getting bored of the recipes and they can be a little too calorie dense. I tried SunBasket for a couple months and it just wasn’t for me. I felt like the recipes were way too simple and had very few ingredients for the price point they are selling it at. HelloFresh provides much more ingredients for most of their recipes. They are also similar calorie amount wise. HelloFresh also has a great student discount that SunBasket does not offer.
    I’m currently switching to Misfits Market to force myself to try more veggies, it’s not a meal plan box but I’d be interested in MSA doing a review of them!

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experience with both these subscriptions, Kate! It looks like Megan reviewed Misfits Market earlier this year. I don’t think I can paste an active link here in the comments, but you should be able to find it if you search the site for “Misfits Market Produce Review.” 😊

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