We are more about customization today than one size fits all. To meet that demand, online subscription services regularly emerge to offer everything from coffee to sunglasses, all delivered right to your door. In fact, there’s no need to leave the comfort of your couch to find the latest fashion, shop for healthy snacks, or even decide what’s for dinner tonight. But what do you actually get for your money, and are they worth it? I chose a selection of four popular subscription services to join for 1 month, and here’s what I found.
What is it | Ingredients and recipes for meals for two or four people, delivered weekly.
How much | Two-person plan: $59.94 per week, family plan: $139.84 per week.
What I liked | It is like cooking school in your home. They have loads of support online, including information on recipes and video cooking tutorials. The recipes work and are really delicious. My one son said it was the best burger he ever had in his life. When enjoying our second meal, my other son said it tasted like it came from a restaurant.
This part needs work | It is perfectly portion controlled, so don’t count on leftovers. Typically that would be fine, except it takes quite an effort to complete these meals. This is not a service that provides a fast or easy dinner. You need to be ready to put in some work on these recipes. In addition, they claim all packaging is recyclable, but there is a lot of it, and if you are eco-conscious, this would not be a service for you. Other than calorie count, there is not much nutritional info provided on all of the ingredients you receive.
What is it | Five personalized beauty and lifestyle samples delivered to you each month in your beauty box.
How much | $10/month or $110/year (including 1 month free).
What I liked | This is an inexpensive way to try new items from facemasks to moisturizers and hair products. There is also a Birchbox Man, offering monthly samples of grooming products.
This part needs work | I received 11 emails from them since I signed up 4 weeks ago. It feels like my inbox is under attack. This service packages what essentially would be free samples if you went to each of these beauty bars in person. If you like miniature-sized bottles and tubes, it works. However, if you are someone who prefers an uber-organized make-up drawer or cabinet, these minis can be maddening.
What is it | Healthy snacks delivered to your door.
How much | Free for the first sample box, then $19.95 per month for a five-snack box and $13.95 for a three-snack box.
What I liked | They use high-quality ingredients and no artificial additives. The first sample is free, so you get to try the service and see if you like it. Whether you are looking for sugar-free treats or you only love spicy snacks, the site is set up to cater to your tastes.
You build what they call Your Pantry by choosing snacks you like, and you can tailor this to discard items you weren’t crazy about or add in new picks. There are a variety of choices, and each snack we tried, including the sriracha-roasted cashews, pineapple coconut bars, sweet blueberry almonds, pistachio power clusters, and sea salt pop pops was delicious. They even included a surprise snack—everything bagel stix—which was a nice touch. The cost is less than what you would spend at a health food store for five snacks, so I decided to continue the service.
This part needs work | From access to nutritional information to a simple-to-navigate website, the service is impeccable. Just one note: the serving sizes are typically for two.
What is it | Personal styling service delivering five fashion items to you monthly.
How much | Cost of clothing varies by item; $20 styling fee is applied to your final order.
What I liked | You initially fill out a style quiz that lets you choose items you like and dislike. The fit on every item I received was perfect. Even better, they were all flattering. It felt like my birthday, receiving this gift of clothes, picked just for me. When I opened the box, there was not one item I would have picked for myself, but after trying them on, I wanted to keep all of them. Their stylists are definitely talented and insightful. They will accommodate you if you want to switch a delivery date and were lenient when I requested a few more days before returning the items. Customer service was excellent.
This part needs work | Similar to some other services, they need to cool it on the emails.