The Plant-Based Meal Delivery Throwdown: Thistle Vs. Sakara Life

In partnership with Thistle. 

While prep-at-home meal kits were all the rage for years, brands are now delivering even-healthier, even-more-convenient options in the form of delicious fully-prepped meals straight to your doors. If you’re interested in convenient, clean eating, you’ve likely seen a lot of options circulating around your IG feed. After eyeing two of the tastiest options for weeks, I finally put them to the test to see how great (and cost effective) they really could be. One clear winner emerged. Discover which brand I’m recommending to all of my friends in this edition of throwdown, featuring Thistle vs. Sakara Life. 

The Players

Credit: @thistleco

Thistle: Thistle makes eating nutritious, plant-based foods incredibly convenient and accessible. The brand prepares everything from hearty meals to cold-pressed juices fully under the guidance of professional nutritionists and allows you to fully customize a plan that works for you. Thistle’s globally-inspired meals arrive on your doorstep 100% prepped and ready to eat – and each is plant-forward with the option to add meat if you choose.

Credit: @sakaralife

Sakara: Sakara is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘with form,’ or the manifestation of thoughts to things. It’s clear that Sakara intends to be more than simply a meal service – it definitely feels like more of a lifestyle-brand-slash-nutrition-experience. A whole food, plant-based meal delivery program, Sakara is built upon nine pillars of nutrition: no calorie counting, plant protein, eat your water, greens, good fats, eat the rainbow, nutrient density, sulfur-rich veggies, and body intelligence. 

The Options

Credit: Thistle

Thistle: Thistle's plans are totally customizable. The first question the site asks is specifically how many breakfasts, lunches and dinners you’d like to choose. From there, choose between plant-based protein only, meat only, or a mix of both. Each meal guarantees an average of 20g+ of protein in each serving, from a mix of tofu, nuts, seeds, veggies and ancient grains, and you’re also able to flag any shellfish, fish, coconut, peanuts, soy, pork or tree nut allergies (all of Thistle's meals are already free from dairy, eggs, gluten, refined white sugars, plus artificial additives of any kind). Then, you get to put together your actual order with the help of daily menus that are as gorgeous as they are thoughtfully curated, plus pre-batched salads, juices and snack kits to satisfy every craving under the sun. 

Credit: Sakara Life

Sakara: With Sakara, you can choose from a number of programs – The Signature Nutrition Program, The Detox Program, or The Bridal Program. The Signature Nutrition Program is the brand’s most popular offering, and it allows you to choose your meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a blend), your days (3 or 5 days per week are offered depending on your location), and either a one-time program or weekly subscription. One thing to note with Sakara: the menu is set each week, so you’re opting into options that are pre-chosen (without a ton of flexibility in terms of selects each week). All meals avoid meat, dairy, gluten, refined sugar, pesticides, harmful chemicals, and GMOs, and Sakara delivers them on Mondays and Thursdays. 

The Cost

Thistle: Thistle’s pricing feels incredibly fair for what you’re getting. Prices are slightly higher for the meat-based options, but never exceed $17.24 per meal, with discounts down to $11.50 per meal when you add more to your order and/or go veggie.

Sakara: This one’s certainly on the higher end of the meal delivery service spectrum. If you opt for 3 meals a day, Sakara’s Signature Program comes in at $440 for 5 days, $880 for 10 days, and $1,760 for 20 days. If you choose to subscribe, the program is $349/week for 5 days of meals. A subscription earns you a few benefits, too: you can swap meals, skip, or cancel easily, plus there’s no delivery fee. 

The Experience

Thistle: A handy text alerts you that your order has arrived at your doorstep, and it’s all fun and games from there. Each meal is individually packaged and labeled, down to day and time (Monday lunch, Tuesday breakfast, etc.). In terms of packaging, the containers are no bigger than they need to be, plus Thistle’s jars are reusable (and the delivery bags and ice packs are either yours to keep, or can be picked up by Thistle delivery persons to reduce clutter). 

Sakara: This is a premium service, and it shows. For instance, in addition to pre-prepped meal ingredients (which are separated so nothing gets soggy), the brand also sends a clear, plastic bag that includes “The Ultimate Guide to the Sakara Life,” a piece of sage to turn your home into a zen getaway (for 15 min), and a few other
Sakara products like detox super bars and teas.  

The Taste

Thistle: My week with Thistle was full of constant variety. While my own homemade efforts always fall back on tried-and-true staples, I was suddenly enjoying breakfasts and lunches full of spice, texture, and high-quality ingredients. I enjoyed everything from Tofu Chilaquiles to Ramen Salad with Sesame Edamame and a Ragu Pasta Bowl with Tofu Bolognese for dinner. Whenever I was feeling peckish, I had snacks like Creamy Yellow Split Pea Hummus with Crudités, salads like the Kale and Quinoa Caesar, and an array of juices ranging from Power Greens to Watermelon to keep hunger at bay. My Thistle order was healthier and more thoughtfully sourced than anything I would've whipped up myself.

Sakara: Sakara’s meals definitely feel like something you couldn’t easily just whip up on your own. My partner and I most enjoyed the Sakara burrito bowl with turmeric corn salsa — an ideal size for lunch with surprisingly fresh ingredients — and the zen zucchini muffin with coconut bliss creme. The food is all really delicious, though I wouldn’t say it’s always the most satiating. We definitely had to supplement a couple of meals, which defeated the purpose of the (very expensive) plan. I see Sakara as an indulgent option for a pre-something-big week – one where you’re attending a wedding or about to go on vacation. However, for most people, it’s not exactly a sustainable option for healthy meals on the reg. It’s delicious and high quality, but not the most feasible for most people. 

The Winner

I’ve got to hand this one to Thistle as the most well-rounded meal delivery service I’ve ever tried. The brand strikes the perfect balance between healthy and satiating, customizable and affordable – and offering an endless variety of I-would-have-never-made-this-for-myself options. It’s absolutely worth the subscription cost and the fridge space for busy individuals looking for delicious, reliable, health-conscious meals and snacks. And, the best part is that the brand works with you to fill in whatever gaps you need, whether that means a full week of breakfasts, lunches, and dinner, or a couple of lunches and snacks for hectic days here and there. It’s delicious, it’s nutritious, and it’s 100% worth the hype.