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Best meal kits for people with allergies

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If you are allergic to one or more types of food, you're probably used to being extra careful when shopping for dinner. Concocting a delicious meal that's also safe for food allergies shouldn't be a big, stress-inducing hurdle. That's why we singled out the best allergy-friendly meal kits like Home Chef -- which lets you easily swap out certain ingredients.

And that's a big deal these days.

"Depending on your location, having access to grocery stores with specialty items isn't always easy," says dietitian and gut health nutritionist Amanda Sauceda. "Even if these stores are accessible, you may not have the time to create fresh meals from scratch, and that's the beauty of meal kit companies."

We've already worked through the question of whether meal kits are cheaper than grocery shopping (spoiler alert: they can be). The best meal kits also make it much easier to choose specific items, especially if you need to avoid allergens like milk, eggs, fish or soy products while gathering ingredients. All told, meal kits can help you whip up tasty and allergy-friendly meals with ease.

Best allergy-friendly meal kits for healthy eating

Whether you're looking for a variety of nutritious meals to choose from or need to keep an eye out for certain ingredients altogether, here are the best meal delivery services for people with allergies:

  • Best custom meals: Home Chef
  • Best prepared meals: The Good Kitchen
  • Best variety: HelloFresh
  • Best nut-free meals: Hungryroot
  • Best for soy, milk, and egg allergies: Splendid Spoon

Take the stress out of cooking dinner with one of these top allergy-friendly meal kit delivery services:

Best for customizable meals: Home Chef

Plated Almond-Crusted Salmon with roasted sesame salad
Home Chef

Home Chef won top pick thanks to the sheer variety of meals available each week. First-time customers may notice "customize it" buttons under more than a few weekly recipes -- this lets you easily swap out certain ingredients like proteins, which could mean the difference between finding tasty, allergy-friendly meals and skipping over recipe after recipe looking for foods that fit your personal needs.

Allergens like eggs, wheat, soy, and shellfish are all clearly labeled on recipes. You can also customize your meal plan from the get-go, with certain plans and the option to list your "dislikes" (to avoid ingredients like pork, beef, fish, mushrooms, peanuts and more) available to help you build the perfect meal plan with ease.

Prices typically start at $10 per serving, but that can go up depending on how many weekly meals (between two and six) and servings per meal (two, four, or six) you select at signup.

Best prepared meals: The Good Kitchen

Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Brussels Spouts
The Good Kitchen

Meal kits can be great for the aspiring home chef, but if fully prepared meals that heat up within minutes are more your speed, then the Good Kitchen is the meal delivery service for you.

The Good Kitchen lets you make a list of ingredients you wish to avoid, making it easy to accommodate moderate to serious allergies without closely examining every recipe each week. There are also allergen notes on each meal.

The Good Kitchen also boasts on its website about three things it does not use in any recipes: gluten, dairy or refined sugars. This is a net gain for a healthy diet regardless of your allergies, but it's extra good news for anyone with a gluten allergy, or allergy to one or more dairy products.

Compared with other meal delivery services, the Good Kitchen is on the higher end when it comes to pricing. Prices start at $12 per serving, but final tallies may vary per meal. (This is due to the added costs of working with a network of dedicated local chefs, according to the meal kit company.)

Best meal variety: HelloFresh

Za'atar-Crusted Grilling Cheese with Sumac-Spiced Zucchini & Onion over Couscous

HelloFresh built a reputation through a diverse menu that offers more than 30 unique recipes each week. 

Customers can mix and match their preferences each week, or choose from curated plans like Meat & Veggies or Pescatarian, to create a personalized plan. If you want a more in-depth look at HelloFresh, from first impressions to a rundown on the type of variety you can expect, check out our HelloFresh review.

With ingredients and allergens clearly labeled on recipes, you won't have trouble finding something you like that also fits your dietary needs. There is also a nice selection of diet-friendly meal plans to choose from, including beef-free, seafood-free, and veggie-based. 

HelloFresh also boasts a team of dedicated dietitians who review every recipe's ingredients to highlight any of the eight major allergens (more on these below). 

Best for peanut or tree nut allergies: Hungryroot

Garlic Pepper Turkey + Smoky Roasted Potatoes

Hungryroot ups the meal delivery service game by offering delectable food recipes and an assortment of grocery items. If you're looking for a one-stop-shop for meals throughout the week, Hungryroot may be for you.

When building your meal plan, Hungryroot lets you pick from a number of important dietary preferences. Add one or more of the following to your "food profile" to filter out any unwanted allergens: dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, tree nut-free, peanut-free, egg-free, and shellfish-free. 

Customers take a sort of quiz when building their Hungryroot meal plan, and this gets into all sorts of little details. You can list your preferences for breakfast and brunch items and a number of other things -- or just skip straight to the good stuff: selecting the foods you want shipped to your door each week.

Best for soy, milk, or egg allergies: Splendid Spoon

Butternut Squash Ratatouille Soup
Splendid Spoon

Splendid Spoon is a health-focused meal kit delivery service that serves up dozens of plant-based meals. Each recipe offers a healthy mix of protein, fats and carbs, making this an ideal choice for anyone that wants to make the switch to better eating.

Whether it's being prepared right out of the box (and ready within minutes, at that) or stored in the fridge for use laster in the week, each meal is satisfying and nutritionally complete. Alongside meals like the Roasted Tomato Risotto Dish and the Creamy Butternut Squash Noodles, you can also find hearty soups, stews, and grain bowls.

The best part is that all Splendid Spoon products are made without gluten, soy, milk, or eggs. If you're tired of hunting down recipes with "gluten-free" or "soy-free" labels, this health-focused meal delivery service has you covered.

What are the main food allergens?

"The main food allergens that are known to cause allergic reactions in many people and might limit what you can buy at the grocery store are often referred to as the 'big eight' allergens," says dietitian and nutritionist Mary Sabat.

These high-profile allergens are the most common culprits when it comes to moderate to severe food allergies. Sabat lays out the big eight below:

  • Milk: "This includes all products derived from milk, such as butter, cheese, yogurt, and some baked goods.
  • Eggs: Eggs can be found in various forms in many processed foods, including baked goods, pasta, and certain sauces.
  • Peanuts: Peanut allergies can be severe, and peanuts are found in a wide range of products, including snacks, candy, and sauces.
  • Tree Nuts: Tree nuts encompass a variety of nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts, and others. They are commonly found in baked goods, cereals, and nut butters.
  • Soy: Soybeans and soy-based products like tofu, soy sauce, and soybean oil are used in numerous food items and processed foods.
  • Wheat: Wheat is a common ingredient in many grains and is found in bread, pasta, cereal, and many processed foods.
  • Fish: Fish allergies can involve a range of fish species, such as salmon, tuna, and cod. Fish ingredients can be found in sauces, dressings, and processed fish products.
  • Shellfish: Shellfish allergies can be divided into two categories: crustaceans (e.g., shrimp, crab, lobster) and mollusks (e.g., clams, mussels, oysters). They are used in various seafood dishes and sauces."

In recent years, experts have added a few new items to this list. Common seed allergens include sesame and mustard, which can be found in certain breads, soups, oils, salad dressings, and even veggie burgers. The FDA doesn't yet require seeds to be labeled as allergens, so this is one more reason to look carefully at ingredient labels should you have this allergy. 

Finding the best allergy-friendly meal kit for you

"When selecting a meal kit, consumers with allergies should prioritize certain considerations," Sabat says. "First, ingredient transparency is crucial, so opt for meal kit services that provide detailed ingredient lists and clear allergen labels. Check for customization options that allow you to exclude or substitute allergenic ingredients."

Some meal kit services like HelloFresh offer custom recipes that let you swap out certain ingredients. This can make it easier to pick and choose meals you're interested in trying out without being limited by worries of surprise appearances by certain allergens. 

"Investigate the company's policies on cross-contamination to ensure your safety," adds Sabat. "Specialized meal kit services catering to specific allergies can be a helpful choice. Read customer reviews, plan your meals in advance, and always have emergency allergy medications on hand."

Green Chef offers an inviting gluten-free meal plan while The Good Kitchen is ideal for gluten, peanut, or soy allergies (thanks to its dedicated facility that's free of said allergens).

How we compared the best meal kit delivery services for people with allergies

In order to make informed decisions regarding the right meal delivery service for you, there are several bases any worthwhile meal kit should have covered. We hit them all on our way around the field:

  • Ingredient transparency: Perhaps the biggest thing we considered was how easy it is to double check details regarding ingredients: nutritional labels, food sourcing info, and sustainability practices were all on our list.
  • Organic options: We looked for organic and sustainably sourced ingredients, which can contribute to healthier eating and may reduce the risk of childhood allergies altogether
  • Menu variety: We prioritized menus that catered to different dietary limitations. Variety is the spice of life, but it's also a green flag for anyone who may need to choose meals carefully due to certain allergies.
  • Customer service: At the end of the day, reaching out to someone with a meal delivery company can be the best way to ensure your needs are met when it comes to isolating ingredients, making substitutions, etc. "Asking them some initial questions or getting clarification on things can be helpful to know if the company is responsive," says Sauceda. We made sure to stick with meal kit providers who won't leave you hanging should you try to connect with a representative.

Read more about how we review products

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Tom Horton

Tom Horton is a resident health expert for CBS Essentials, with deep experience in topics ranging from chronic conditions to health-care devices to diet options. He lives in upstate New York, and draws his power from local bookstores, long hikes on a sunny day, and his cat Sammy.

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