How We Score
Assigning scores to the meal delivery services we feature on our site is the most difficult part of our work. Objective criteria are hard to establish and bias is not easily minimized. In order to attain the highest level of objectivity, we keep the operations of our marketing and finance teams separate from the operations of our research and review teams. That way, we eliminate the chance of financial interests influencing our decision-making process, be it directly or indirectly.
Our scoring is exclusively based on 6 criteria identified as crucial to customers based on the feedback they provide. These include meal options, variety, nutritional value, portion size, and pricing.
Meal options, variety, and pricing are 3 criteria that are statistically of greatest interest to consumers. Since no service offers unparalleled variety, every meal option that exists or prices that are impossible to beat, compliance with these criteria cannot be determined based on individual service analysis. Scores on these 3 criteria are based on comparison between similar services and each service’s score is relative to the scores of its top competitors. Thus, if we state that a service deserves 2 out of 5 stars on the pricing criterion that does not mean that it is necessarily expensive on its own. That means that it is expensive in comparison to the majority of companies that offer similar service type and quality.
The nutritional value criterion is completely objective but requires a lot of manual work. When we determine how well a service does in the nutritional value department, we aggregate the data from all the labels on all of its currently available products. We calculate mean values for all the key nutrients and compare them with the recommendations in the latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines For Americans.
If all values are within the recommended range for the consumer type the service caters to (e.g. diabetics or vegans), we give the service the highest score on this criterion. The score is proportionately lowered depending on how much the service’s meals deviate from the recommendations.
Finally, portion size is normally a subjective criterion. However, we do not base our rating on how well the service’s meals satisfy the needs of people with big appetites in comparison to people with small appetites. We rely on the guidelines for healthy eating provided by the American Heart Association.
Once again, we take diet type into consideration. The same rules do not apply to weight loss meal delivery services and meal delivery services that cater to athletes. Just like in the case of nutritional value, we calculate the scores based on the compliance with the official recommendations for individuals to which the service caters.
The total score is the arithmetic mean of scores on all 6 criteria, adjusted via comparison with similar services. The final adjustment makes our ratings more reliable, as it prevents us from basing our assessment on the ideal instead of real state of the meal delivery market.