Hungryroot Review: Is This Popular Meal Kit Service Worth the Hype?

Meal delivery meets online grocery shopping

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Hungry Root Review cooking meal

Real Simple / Jeff Bogle

Americans are very busy people, with daily schedules packed with work, family obligations, extracurricular activities, and a host of daily errands. This leaves little time to cook and eat well-balanced, healthy meals and snacks. Not only that, but groceries have gotten far more expensive in recent years, making weekly meal planning increasingly challenging for many people. Thankfully, there's help available. Enter Hungryroot, a meal delivery service that can do the shopping for us and provide recipes for nutritious and accessible, globally inspired dishes. 

Personally, I could subsist on not much more than takeout pizza from my favorite local joint and plates of hummus with warmed pita bread—but logically, I know that this is no way to live a long, healthy life. Additionally, with my packed schedule, I don't always have the time or energy to shop for groceries or prepare meals from scratch, despite having always wanted to be a chef. In searching for a solution to this problem, I was intrigued by what Hungryroot could do for me and my family. I gave this service a try for one week, and here's what I thought of my experience.

Hungryroot review ingredients and packaging

Real Simple / Jeff Bogle

Pros and Cons


  • Wide range of meals and healthy snacks available each week
  • Multiple diets are accommodated
  • 100 percent recyclable packaging with biodegradable ice pack
  • Easy-to-use website with flexible delivery options
  • Free protein item with each delivery for life of subscription
  • Food contains no high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, or artificial sweeteners, colors, or preservatives


  • Cost prohibitive for some individuals
  • Packaging of food was unorganized
  • Groceries are selected using a number of credits based on your chosen subscription plan, which can be hard to understand

What Is Hungryroot?

Hungryroot is a personalized grocery delivery subscription service. The company was founded in 2015 with the aim of helping individuals and families eat healthier by delivering both fresh and prepackaged food that is nutritious, along with recipes that make it easy to plate up restaurant-quality meals in a matter of minutes. With the ability to tailor your deliveries to your unique needs and wants each week, pause deliveries, and receive customized recommendations, Hungryroot can take food shopping and food prep off your plate, giving you more free time each and every day. 

How Does It Work?

Before we even get into how Hungryroot works, it's important to note that it will work best if you put the time into letting Hungryroot know and understand your food and flavor preferences. To that end, you will begin your Hungryroot experience with a fairly extensive quiz that will cover the following:

  • Dietary preferences: such as pescatarian, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, peanut-free, gluten-free, etc.
  • Nutritional needs: high protein, carb-conscious, low sugar.
  • Favorite cuisines: Indian, Italian, Thai, Korean, Classic American, Mediterranean, etc.
  • Flavor profiles: This is where you indicate that you prefer aromatic flavors like a curry over a marinara, and creamy tzatziki instead of cheese-based sauces, for example.
  • Spicy heat level: none, mild, medium, or hot.
  • Detailed protein preferences: fresh fish, smoked fish, and/or shellfish, beef or lamb, poultry or pork, and tofu, tempeh, lentils, beans, and plant-based meat alternatives.
  • Dislikes: For me, this includes cilantro and eggplant, but it could also include things like mushrooms, garlic, tomatoes, onions, or potatoes.

This quiz, which takes maybe 15 minutes to complete, is essential to ensuring that your Hungryroot journey is pleasant from a taste and texture standpoint. The quiz concludes with your breakfast, snack, and sweet preferences, as well as your "taste for adventure" when it comes to trying things like plant-based eggs and dairy-free cheeses. It is important to note that you're able to easily tweak any of your answers at any point, should you, say, develop a taste for BBQ sauce or decide that, actually, you don't want any food that contains tree nuts.

The Hungryroot food selections get a refresh twice weekly, on Mondays and Thursdays. This means that you likely won't get bored with the meals—but at the same time, if you fall in love with a recipe, you may be left to recreate it on your own. In this way, Hungryroot can serve as a culinary incubator, giving you a taste of new food combinations and cuisines that you may not otherwise consider. 

You will need to sign up for a subscription before seeing and making your food and recipe choices, but once that's done, your first delivery can arrive within a matter of days—providing you live in the continental U.S. (There are some ZIP codes not served by Hungryroot, but those are few and far between). A new batch of groceries and meals will be generated for you every week based on your preferences from the quiz, but you can easily edit and swap one food out for another on the Hungryroot website.

Hungryroot packaged ingredients in pan

Real Simple / Jeff Bogle


In short, Hungryroot isn't necessarily for bargain shoppers. Having quality foods delivered to you, many of which are organic, all-natural, and fresh, comes at a cost that may be prohibitive for some. While my first order came with an introductory discount of $30, the price tag would have been $102.51 without the discount. (This was for two lunch servings, four dinner servings, and a handful of snacks and sweets.) When compared to dining out multiple times a week, this would undoubtedly prove a money-saver. But apples-to-apples with DIY grocery shopping and meal prep, whether it's the discounted $75 or the full $102, the price would be significantly more than what these ingredients would cost me.

Meal Choices

Hungryroot offers meals for practically every kind of diet. Along with standard meat-laden meals, there are vegan and vegetarian choices, as well as plenty of pescatarian, paleo, keto, dairy, and gluten-free meal options. And because the food choices and recipes are refreshed twice weekly, the odds are that you will find a wealth of recipes you will be eager to try every week, plus a bevy of groceries, snacks, and extras to add to your orders. Recipes run the gamut of pasta dishes, burgers made from both meat and plant-based alternatives, fresh fish and shellfish dinners, stir-fries, curries, macaroni and cheese with added proteins, and more. 

You'll frequently encounter questions like "How often would you like these?" while logged into your Hungryroot account. This is to help the company fill your deliveries with more of the food you want each and every week. In the vast land of meal delivery services, Hungryroot sits in between meal kits and prepared meals, because while there is some work over heat required to plate up the recipes, the cooking couldn't be more minimal and easy to manage. (For me, it was a little too easy.)

What We Tasted:

  • Paneer and cauliflower tikka masala bowl
  • Thai peanut paneer and stir-fry veggie bowl
  • Zesty shrimp taco salad
  • Mini nutty pumpkin bread
  • Organic blackberry yogurt cup
  • Plant-based chopped Chick'n
  • Big coffee cake muffin
Hungryroot pumpkin bread and tea

Real Simple / Jeff Bogle


The most disappointing part of the Hungryroot experience for me was the packaging. My week's worth of groceries and fresh food looked as if it were tossed haphazardly into one oversized box with just one cooler pack at the bottom. Even after collecting and unpacking the box within an hour of its delivery, what I found was a bag of lukewarm shrimp and a chopped salad kit that was set to expire the following day with lettuce that had already gone brown. I was surprised to find nothing secured inside, and no sorting or compartmentalization within the delivered box. 

For example, I had ordered three recipes, each with its own ingredients. I would have expected everything for each recipe to be together in some way, to make it easy to organize in my refrigerator or just get started cooking. Additionally, the order slip with the actual step-by-step recipes to make the meals was missing from the delivery. I had to find one particular email or log into my Hungryroot account to access the recipes to make dinner, which was clunky and a bit annoying, considering the main concept of this service is its purported ease of use in a busy world. 

I was ultimately uncomfortable with using the shrimp, since it felt too warm to be safe to eat, and I didn't want to serve my family the chopped salad that had already turned brown, so I logged into my Hungryroot account to note those two issues with this delivery. To the company's credit, a $16 credit was immediately applied to my account, to be used to partially offset the cost of a future delivery.

The Cooking Process

There is practically no prep work needed to make Hungryroot meals, and only a tiny bit of actual cooking. Most meals, if you follow the recipe cards word for word, will take you less than 10 minutes to have on the table, and they rarely use more than one pan on the stove. 

The paneer and cauliflower tikka masala bowl was the first recipe I chose to make after the delivery arrived. Right away, the amateur home chef in me shone through because instead of sautéing the cauliflower in a frying pan for four to five minutes as instructed, I roasted it in my toaster oven for 20 minutes after drizzling it with olive oil and tossing it with salt and pepper. (This is the way my wife and I prefer to enjoy cauliflower, one of our favorite veggies.) The cooking method swap didn't impact the overall vibe of the dish. If anything, it made the cauliflower more restaurant-quality, because it was tender and crisp at the same time from the roasting. Oddly, this recipe didn't call for rice which felt unsatisfying, so I microwaved a bag of basmati that I happened to have in my pantry. That fluffy base pulled everything together and we devoured the meal, wishing there was more.

Like the tikka masala bowl, the Thai peanut paneer and stir-fry veggie bowl was almost too easy to make! It came with a 9.5-ounce package of gorgeous, bright, and fresh, presliced stir-fry veggies, which consisted of yellow onion, broccoli, red and green bell peppers, carrot, zucchini, and snow peas. I decided to sauté the veggies for about twice as long as the recipe called for (five to six minutes total) because I wanted them to be just on the other side of firm. I also added some thawed frozen shrimp I had in my freezer to add extra protein to this fantastic meal that I would absolutely have paid $16-$18 for at a restaurant. 

For the zesty shrimp taco salad, I used some of my own precooked frozen shrimp, since, as I mentioned above, I didn't trust the shrimp that had been delivered. Overall, this dish was just OK. The Spicewalla taco seasoning pack added a little zip, but the cucumber, corn, and black bean salad didn't pack enough of a punch or coat the leaves of lettuce enough for our liking. Had I been able to use the raw shrimp that was sent, the cooking process would have been just a few minutes long, which is on par with our Hungryroot experience. This service, based first on grocery delivery and seemingly second on meals, is more about putting things together to create dinners than it is about prepping and cooking.

Hungryroot review paneer cooking

Real Simple / Jeff Bogle


Overall, the taste of the food was a mixed bag. The individually wrapped baked goods were far too earthy and, in the case of the mini nutty pumpkin bread, inedible. (My wife took one bite and spit it out.) The paneer and cauliflower tikka masala bowl, on the other hand, was remarkable. The Sach Foods Original Organic Paneer, a food I adore when eating out at our favorite Indian restaurants, was perfectly firm, easy to cut and sauté, and absolutely delicious. The final touch was to tear open and pour in the pouch of Maya Kaimal Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce, which was smooth, sweet, and mild, which pleased me and my youngest daughter who can't handle much spice at all. 

A couple of nights later, I made the Thai peanut paneer and stir-fry veggie bowl for my wife and my mother. This was the highlight of the whole delivery. It was incredibly delicious with those crisp, fresh veggies, rich peanut sauce, and more of the scrumptious paneer. The recipe included a Brown Rice Quinoa Blend, which my wife and I tried with an open mind, but since neither of us is a quinoa fan, we weren't crazy about it. My mother, on the other hand, found this rice, lentil, and quinoa blend delicious—in fact, she took the leftovers home and sprinkled it in her salads later in the week. 

The free protein sent with our first delivery, a box of plant-based chopped Chick'n, was tender and provided a close approximation of the texture and taste of real chicken. I cooked that in the toaster oven on a night I cooked made-to-order quesadillas and homemade guacamole for my extended family.

Who Should Use Hungryroot?

Hungryroot is ideal for the busy amateur home chef who likes to cook and eat a variety of foods that span global cuisines, but who doesn't have the time or energy to go grocery shopping for all of the bits and pieces to make their culinary dreams a reality. I found that a Hungryroot subscription is more akin to "putting meals together" than intense cooking. Anyone who wants complex flavor profiles and the ability to easily dip a toe into culturally diverse dishes, without having a sink full of dishes to clean afterward, would love to whip up the recipes Hungryroot provides.

Final Thoughts

Since childhood, I've wanted to be a chef, and I love the process of cooking from scratch for my wife and kids. While I enjoyed the flavors of some of Hungryroot's meals, I found myself feeling like I wasn't really cooking but rather just opening up containers and combining them in a frying pan. With that said, however, I can appreciate what Hungryroot offers its customers. It's a service that busy folks who want fresh and healthy food, easy-to-follow recipes, and global flavors can enjoy—particularly if they don't have the time to chop, measure, caramelize, and clean up an avalanche of pots and pans at the end of the night. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does Hungryroot Have Ready-to-Eat Food?

    Hungryroot is a subscription service that curates and delivers groceries along with recipes to prepare quick, wholesome meals. There are some ready-to-eat foods such as salad kits and soups, but that's the extent of Hungryroot's prepared meal options. 

  • How Many Servings Are in a Hungryroot Recipe?

    Each Hungryroot recipe can be scaled to accommodate either two or four servings, depending on how many mouths you'll need to feed. 

  • How Customizable Is a Hungryroot Plan?

    A Hungryroot meal kit and grocery delivery subscription plan is 100 percent customizable. You will be served up a set of recipes and grocery items destined for your pantry and refrigerator, but you can change every single meal and item to satisfy your overall flavor preferences (although your answers during the comprehensive quiz should take care of this). 

  • Can You Skip a Week of Hungryroot Deliveries?

    You can easily skip a week of Hungryroot deliveries for any reason. Maybe you have travel plans, or perhaps there's still a good amount of food remaining from your previous delivery. Whatever the case may be, simply log into your Hungryroot account and select "skip next delivery" before Thursdays at 7 p.m. local time.

  • Can You Freeze Hungryroot Food?

    As with everything from the grocery store, the ability to freeze Hungryroot food depends on the individual items. That said, by and large, all food can be frozen, thawed, and/or heated up, and enjoyed just as when it was fresh. 

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