Food

5 Ways To Make A Fancy Dinner Without Spending All Your Money

Blue Apron/Marley Spoon

Making dinner every night can be tricky. Maybe not the actual cooking part, but thinking of different ways to shake things up without breaking the bank is pretty hard. I love being creative in the kitchen, but my bank account loves buying from the clearance rack and living off ramen noodles, if you know what I mean.

I did some research and tried to find the best ways to get new and exciting meals in my lineup without spending a crazy amount of money. The nice thing about these services is that they can be adjusted to feed multiple people. Since I live alone, I can order something that makes two servings and have meals for a couple nights, or even lunch the next day. But if you're a family of four, you can get an entire meal for everyone at the table!

These are the best services to make sure you're getting good food and a good value.

1. Plate Joy

One of the biggest problems with eating healthy is how expensive it is. With Plate Joy, they customize your meals based on your budget, food preferences, and what you already have in the cupboard. Every meal, every snack, it's all planned out for you! I find that I spend more money when I'm shopping randomly around the store and not using ingredients already in my fridge.

Plate Joy's digital pantry keeps track of what you have and promises to reduce the amount of food you waste. Not bad, right? You can sign up for a 10 day free trial, and if you love it (which you almost definitely will), you can sign up for a six month plan!

My favorite part about Plate Joy is that you can customize your menu based on a particular diet you're following. For me, I want low carb, high protein options, and I can let them know that.

2. Gobble

I find myself running around a lot, and that can lead to a lot of poor food choices. I don't always have time to spend 30 minutes cooking in the kitchen. With Gobble's 15 Minute Dinner Kits, you can have a restaurant-quality meal on your table faster than you can make it to a drive-thru.

By providing pre-cooked sauces, grains, and pasta, or pre-sliced vegetables and meat, Gobble recipes take just three steps to complete, which is about as foolproof as it gets.

Your first Gobble kit will contain three gourmet dinners ready to be made, your recipe cards, and free dessert! Free delivery means you're not paying extra for the convenience, and they've also broken it down into an easy pricing guide.

3. Blue Apron

Blue Apron refrigerated boxes used for delivery
Blue Apron

If you've ever wanted to feel like a professional chef, now is your chance. No culinary school required! Blue Apron mails you farm-fresh produce, hormone-free meat, and everything else you could possibly need to make a gourmet, healthy, delicious meal. Deliveries are sent in refrigerated boxes so you don't have to worry about it getting delivered when you're not home, and you can also skip a week any time.

You can choose a two-person or family plan, and choose recipes from their delicious menu. Take away the stress of planning, prepping, and shopping with Blue Apron!

4. Checkout 51

Checkout 51 App
Checkout 51

Maybe you're like my sister, and the idea of having food delivered to your door doesn't sound ideal. I believe her exact words were "how am I supposed to impulse buy if I don't go to the store?" Well, Hayley, I think that's the point. But anyway, Checkout 51 is the way to go! This online app gives you cashback for buying your regular groceries. There's a round of offers each week, and all you have to do is send in a picture of your receipt and you'll get money back for your purchases. Stores like Walmart are included on the list of "accepted" grocers, so you're all set!

5. Martha & Marley Spoon

Sheet Pan Pasta from Marley Spoon
Marley Spoon

Is there a more trusted name in the culinary community than Martha Stewart? So why would you trust anyone other than her to send you dinner? Through Martha & Marley Spoon, you can get meals for two to four people delivered to your door, all you have to do is cook them! You can order up to four meals per week, all of which are set to feed four adults.

If you sign up right now, you'll get a $30 discount on your order, no matter which plan you choose! You can skip a week any time you want, and shipping is free! All meals are approved by an in-house nutritionist, so you can be sure your family is getting exactly what they need.

Regardless of how you do it, there are ways to give yourself healthy meals without totally breaking the bank or driving yourself crazy with creative block.

Meagan has an intense love for Netflix, napping, and carbs.