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Best meal kits for your next date night dinner

Couple holding hands having a romantic dinner date.
Couple holding hands having a romantic dinner date. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Looking for interesting date night ideas this summer? With temperatures sure to soar during the warmer months, you might want to keep things cool and simple: Think pool parties and air-conditioned restaurants. But we'll take it one step further: Why not stay in altogether and plan the perfect date night dinner for two? Meal kits can make this easier (and cheaper) than ever to achieve.

We say there's nothing more romantic than a home-cooked meal, but the process can be a bit much. Meal kits let you skip that last-minute trip to the grocery store, plus you can seriously cut back on how much time you spend sweating over a hot stove before the big date-night dinner. 

Instead of trying to cook the perfect dinner on your own (and ending up overheated by the end of it all), take a look at our picks for the best meal delivery kits for an easy date night dinner below.

What is the best meal delivery kit for two people?

"Most people think of meal kits to make the everyday easier, but they can also help spice up your date night," registered dietitian Tori Martinet says. "Most meal kits have premium or chef-crafted offerings with indulgent, specialty items at an upcharge, and those are exactly the recipes I'd pick for a date night in."

We asked Martinet for some fun meal kit recipes that could make for a memorable evening cooking together.

"Blue Apron is my favorite for foodies," Martinet says, "and if you head to the 'premium' and 'craft' offerings on each week's menu, you'll be met with dishes like seared scallops and cascatelli pasta with fennel, saffron, and yellow tomato sauce."

We were hooked by Blue Apron's premium offerings, as well as HelloFresh's impressive weekly menus, when we started comparing meal kits. Check our full list of the best of the best for couples on date night:

From pre-made meals that are ready in minutes to more involved meal kits for cooks who know their way around the kitchen, there's something for everyone in the collection of top meal delivery services for couples we've put together below.

Best meal kits for two: HelloFresh

Hot honey brussels and ricotta flatbreads with parmesan and italian cheeses served on cutting board next to lemon wedges and a small bowl of hot honey.

For couples who enjoy cooking together, HelloFresh has the perfect excuse to plan a cozy night in with its meal kits for two. This meal delivery service offers everything you need to whip up delicious meals in no time at all, with pre-measured ingredients sent directly to your door. 

While HelloFresh does have single-serve plans for individual home chefs, dinners for two is its specialty: Every week, you can choose from plenty of meal kits for two that offer chef-curated recipes. The online menu is a breeze to navigate and it's super easy to log in and modify your selections or delivery times, so those last-minute date ideas? Not a problem with HelloFresh!

HelloFresh is known for variety, as well as recipes that are fun and easy to prepare, and we completely agree. Weekly offerings typically include recipes modeled after Mexican, Italian, American, and other delectable cuisines.

Want to earn extra brownie points for planning not just one, but more than one date night with your partner? Then consider signing up for HelloFresh's meal kits for two and making weekly at-home dinner dates a reality for the rest of the year.

New subscribers can also save big with 10 free meals (applied as a discount across seven deliveries) and free dessert items for life. Nothing says date night in our book like a free slice of cheesecake with dinner -- just make sure to decide ahead of time on how to split it. 

Best restaurant-style meals: Blue Apron

Soy-miso pork belly and kimchi ramen with soft-boiled eggs and furikake, pictured with chopsticks on a cutting board next to sliced scallions and furikake seasoning
Blue Apron

Blue Apron usually finds its way onto our lists of the best meal kit companies, and for good reason. Its selection of gourmet recipes are usually a step above other meal kits, with high quality ingredients as the main focus. 

If you want to impress your date by preparing a dinner that looks like it belongs on a restaurant critic's Instagram feed (no filter necessary), Blue Apron has you covered.

If you don't mind spending a bit more time in the kitchen, Blue Apron's impressive selection of weekly recipes has plenty to choose from. Its Soy-Miso Pork Belly and Kimchi Ramen (pictured here) has a cook time that's just shy of an hour, but the classic Japanese noodle dish is more than worth it with its tasty mix of sweet and savory flavors.

Want to spice things up with something extra for your date night dinner? Blue Apron offers weekly add-ons that complement all of its main dinners. Whether it's a craving for extra protein with a side of applewood smoked bacon or a need to pair your meal for two with something light and creamy (Parmesan and Thyme Biscuits with Truffle Butter should do the trick), there's something for you in Blue Apron's menus.

Another fact worth mentioning is Blue Apron's latest offering: prepared and ready meals. These meals come pre-made and can be cooked in as little as 2 minutes, making them great for those truly last-minute date nights. Single-serve, prepared and ready meals include four-cheese enchiladas with rice and vegetables, creamy pesto chicken, and more. Pre-made meal prices start at $10 per serving while Blue Apron meal kits start at $11.

Best comfort food recipes: Home Chef

Impossible banh mi burger with sweet chili garlic fries, prepared on a cutting board with chili garlic sauce
Home Chef

There's just something satisfying about a good comfort food recipe when planning a date night dinner -- especially during the colder months -- and Home Chef understands that. Plenty of its weekly meal kits are American classics, usually with an embellishment or two to make it stand out, so couples that grew up on traditionally Western cuisine are in luck. 

Sometimes, you just want a burger and fries. Instead of ordering delivery and risking getting a cold meal, using half of your paycheck for a night out at a fancy restaurant, or surrendering yourself to a fast food drive-through experience, opt for a home-cooked plate! Home Chef's Impossible Banh Mi Burger (pictured here) strikes a nice balance between nostalgia and something new with its unique take on the burger-and-fries combo.

Quesadillas with spinach, feta cheese, and mozzarella; gumbo-style stew with spicy Italian sausage and peppers; flatbread paired with apple slices, goat cheese, and candied walnuts: whatever you grew up eating, chances are there is comfort food recipe (with a twist) on Home Chef's menu that'll check all of your boxes come dinnertime.

Best for snacks and shareables: Daily Harvest

Close up of three banana and cacao bites from Daily Harvest
Daily Harvest

Daily Harvest is another great choice for organic meals packed full with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. When it comes to date night dinners, you might wonder if a meal delivery service that advertises recipes that are entirely free of dairy, gluten, or other artificial ingredients belongs on this list.

The answer is a resounding yes, thanks to Daily Harvest's dedication to delicious combinations in every recipe. Its nutrient-packed smoothies and harvest bowls are great on their own, but the place where this meal delivery company truly shines is its large selection of sides, snacks, and shareables.

Daily Harvest's Forager Bowls run the gamut from sweet to savory and can make for the perfect addition to any meal. Its signature collection of Bites come in batches of seven and make for the perfect shareable snack to add to any date night dinner recipe. 

Daily Harvest also recently expanded its menu with a number of delectable pasta dishes. Shareable meals like white bean and spinach pesto are perfectly suited to a cozy date night for two.

Plan options include small, medium and large, letting you pick between nine and 24 items per delivery. Save up to $65 by using promo code DH65 during the signup process.

Best for quick and easy cook times: SunBasket

Vietnamese shaking beef split between two bowls with chopsticks next to a bowl of watercress and lime-pepper dipping sauce

If you and your significant other are less enthused about bumping into each other while trying to cook dinner and would prefer a stress-free option that's ready within minutes, check out SunBasket's farm-fresh meals. In addition to a menu for hands-on recipes that can take up to 30 minutes to cook (which is still quicker than many other meal kit options), SunBasket offers a number of fresh and ready meals to choose from each week.

Dishes like the Spicy Sichuan Dan Dan Noodles or the equally spicy Louisiana-style Beef and Barley Bowl with Red Pepper Sauce can be ready for the dinner table in minutes. This is perfect for busy couples who don't have time to plan elaborate date night dinners, but also don't want to sacrifice quality.

In addition to a selection of fresh and ready meals, you can also find entire meal kits that take less than 20 minutes to prepare. So regardless of how long you actually want to spend in the kitchen, SunBasket has plenty of tasty and hassle-free meals for two to choose from.

Prices typically start at $12 per serving, but new subscribers can currently enjoy $90 in savings, spread across their first four boxes.

How to pick the best meal kit for couples

There are a number of things to consider when choosing the best meal kits for a date night in. You want to make sure you get everything right when planning a home-cooked meal, so here a few things to keep in mind when comparing meal kits:

  • Personal preference: Start by reading through meal kit menus to find recipes that look appealing. Is it date night worthy? Is it something both you and your partner will enjoy?
  • Time to cook: It's important to keep in mind how long your date night dinner can take to prepare. It may not matter if cooking together is part of the date night itself, but try to find quick recipes that are under 30 minutes to keep everything from grinding to a halt.
  • Complexity: A common mistake many people make is promising more than they can deliver when it comes to whipping up a home-cooked meal – especially for a date night dinner. Know your limits and stick to quick and easy recipes you know will come out great. 

Are meal kits worth it?

Meal kits are great for things like meal planning and getting rid of the stress of planning dinners each and every night. Thanks to the ease in which you can sign up and try out different services, they're no less appealing when you're looking for quick, one-time dinner ideas.

"Choosing a more involved recipe with lots of components means you and your partner can spend time in the kitchen getting dinner on the table together," Martinet says. "And really, who doesn't love bonding over food?"

Part of the thrill of a home-cooked meal is the setup: picking a good playlist, pairing the right wine with dinner (Blue Apron has your back with their impressive wine delivery service), etc. Grocery shopping can leave you tired by the time you get home, but the ease of meal kits can set you up with the time and energy you need to really set the mood.

"Maybe try something that neither of you has cooked before so it's a mini adventure!" nutritionist Kate Ingram says. Ingram educates readers on health and nutrition through her blog, The Vitality Dietitians. "The key is to create an unforgettable and relaxed evening where you can fully appreciate each other's company."

How we compared the best meal kits for couples

For a closer look at how we review certain products and services, here are a few key points of comparison that we used when writing this article:

  • Meal variety: We looked for companies that offered a range of different and delectable recipes with diverse cultural influences (and difficulty to cook) for couples interested in trying something new for dinner. 
  • Time to cook: Each meal kit company highlighted below offers a quick and easy alternative to cooking your own meal from scratch, but sometimes you need something that's ready within minutes.
  • Shareables and add-ons: Sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest impression. We made sure to highlight meal kits that let you elevate any meal with everything from complimentary sides to shareable appetizers and treats.
  • Date night vibes: Even the best date can fall a bit flat if the vibes (the atmosphere, the mood; you know what we mean) are off. That's why we looked for meal kits with dishes that look great, taste better, and are rewarding to cook for yourself.

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