Tovala Review: Smart Technology Meets Oven-Ready Meals

Here's my take on this innovative meal delivery service.

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Tovala Review Ingredients

Food and Wine / Laura Scholz

When you’re hungry at the end of a hectic day, there’s nothing more frustrating than opening the refrigerator and coming up empty or spending an hour or more chopping vegetables and preparing food. Enter Tovala, a meal kit service with a proprietary smart countertop oven that heats simple and tasty meals in 25 minutes or less at the press of a button.

Recipe planning, grocery shopping, and cooking are time-consuming, and my busy schedule as a freelance writer and long-distance runner doesn’t leave much time for meal prep. And after spending way too much of my budget on mediocre takeout when my home oven died, I was excited to try this quick-heating meal service and its technology-powered oven. The meals were flavorful, well-seasoned, and easy to prepare. I love being able to press start, accomplish another task, and return to perfectly cooked meals — no juggling pots and pans and no extensive cleanup. Learn more about my experience and whether or not Tovala fits your budget, diet, and family’s needs.

Tovala Ingredients with recipe card


Pros and Cons


  • All meals heat in 25 minutes or less
  • Minimal preparation required
  • Meals are flavorful and filling
  • Most packaging is recyclable 
  • Oven has a 100-day free trial


  • Menu is fairly limited
  • Many dishes are starchy and meat-heavy
  • Very few accommodations for allergens and specific diets

What is Tovala?

Founded in 2015, Tovala is both a traditional meal kit delivery service and a smart countertop oven with conventional baking, air frying, steaming, and broiling capabilities. Each oven includes accessories such as a baking sheet, air fry basket, measuring cup, and pot holder. Choose from a weekly rotating menu of more than 30 simple, quick-heating meals, each with its own QR code. After unpacking and assembling food, scan the code to automatically set the oven to cook the meal for the correct duration at the right temperature. 

How Does It Work?

To use Tovala, you must purchase the company’s oven, which costs $299 at full price or $99 if ordering six weeks of meals. No subscription is needed to browse the weekly rotating menus of more than 30 dishes ranging from colorful flatbreads to burrito bowls and main plates like teriyaki-glazed salmon with vegetable fried rice. You create a user account and enter your payment information to order meals. You must choose your weekly meals by 6 p.m. CT the week before your delivery. You can add or subtract meals or skip a week by selecting those options in your profile before that same deadline. 

The weekly delivery date depends on your ZIP code but will be between Monday and Friday every week on the same day. Most of Tovala’s meals are fresh, single-serving dinner entrées, but it does offer a small number of two-serving meals and breakfast dishes each week. Customers can also purchase bulk add-on items like bagels as well as holiday meals that serve four to six people. Ingredients for meal kits arrive uncooked but require minimal preparation. Most food only needs to be assembled onto trays and placed in the oven, although some recipes call for slicing cooked meat or adding a premade sauce, condiment, or garnish to the dish after plating.

While Tovala offers a limited number of carb-conscious, vegetarian, and gluten-free meals, Tovala does not specialize or cater to specific diets. Some dishes can be customized by protein or serving size (one or two), but most ingredients and serving sizes are preset and cannot be changed. The company ships meals to all contiguous 48 U.S. states.

Tovala Oven with meal cooking

Food and Wine / Laura Scholz 


Tovala’s meals start at $9.99 per serving and top out at $12.99 per serving. Pricing depends on the number of meals ordered per week, and customers can choose from a weekly plan of four, six, eight, 10, or 12 dishes each. A four-meal, single-serving meals plan costs a minimum of $39.96 weekly, and 12 meals cost a minimum of $119.88 per week, with a flat rate shipping fee of $9.99 per delivery. You can adjust the number of servings for each delivery, so you’re not locked into a specific number of meals per week. You can also opt out of auto-select meals and last-minute substitutions in the user profile on the app or website. 

Meal Choices

Tovala’s fresh meals require minimal preparation and plating time and cook in 25 minutes or less. The company offers more than 30 meals per week, with limited gluten-free, vegetarian, and carb-conscious options. Meals are heavy on proteins like salmon and chicken and starches like pasta, rice, and quinoa. Vegetarian options are limited, as are vegetables within its meat- and carb-centric dishes. I found Tovala’s recipes to be flavorful but not especially adventurous, with some internationally inspired meals ranging from Mexican and Mediterranean to Thai to Italian. 

What We Tasted

  • Shawarma-spiced chicken pita
  • Pesto-smothered chicken breast
  • Fire-roasted corn, bean & green chile flautas with chipotle salsa and guacamole
  • Penne alla vodka
Tovala oven with two meals cooking

Food and Wine / Laura Scholz


Tovala’s packaging is thoughtful, attractive, and functional. All elements arrive in a cardboard box with an insulated liner and an additional cold pack on the bottom for keeping proteins and other perishable items cool. My shipment arrived late in the evening on a warm spring day, and all the items inside were still cool when I unboxed them.

Each meal is packaged individually in a neatly labeled, recyclable cardboard box, complete with a recipe card with a QR code, an image of the finished dish, and easy-to-follow instructions. Cooking times and dish names can be viewed without opening the individual boxes, which makes it easy to sort through items before cooking or storing them in the refrigerator. Primary ingredients for each dish come prepackaged in individual, oven-safe aluminum trays secured with plastic wrap or in a secure plastic bag. Additional items like toppings and sauces come in small plastic containers. Almost all the packing and shipping materials — including the box itself — can be reused or recycled, which minimizes waste.

The Cooking Process

While Tovala dishes are technically meal kits, they function more like heat-and-eat prepared meals. Besides cooking spray to coat oven trays, everything you need to prepare meals comes with the kit. Most meal components arrive uncooked, although some sauces, pieces of bread, and garnishes are premade and can either be heated in the oven or served at room temperature. 

Meal preparation time is minimal — just arrange items in individual aluminum trays for cooking, place them in the oven, scan the QR code, and press start. Some recipes are more labor-intensive (you may have to fill your tortillas with ingredients or slice cooked meat), but none require chopping or mixing. Each recipe I tested was cooked thoroughly and properly in the oven. The chicken was moist and at the appropriate temperature, while dishes like flautas and lentil rice were warm and crispy but not overdone or burned. 

Tovala pasta plated

Food and Wine / Laura Scholz


Not only did all meal components cook evenly at the same temperature for the same length of time, but almost every Tovala meal I tried was well-seasoned and flavorful. Some meals, like the penne alla vodka, were slightly bland, and the overall quality of the food was more fast-casual than fine dining. Two standout dishes were the shawarma-spiced chicken pita, which was flavorful due to red harissa and garlic white sauce toppings, and the fire-roasted corn, bean, and green chile flautas, which were crispy, delicious, and filling. 

Who Should Use Tovala?

Tovala is great for quick-heating, convenient, and tasty meals. Most meals are single-serving, so the service is a better option for busy individuals or those needing a one-off meal rather than those trying to feed a family. Because meals must be cooked in the company’s oven, it’s worth considering whether you have the space and budget for another kitchen appliance. The price per serving is comparable to a fast-casual restaurant or take-out meal, but some portions are small. While the company offers several different meals per week, the selection is limited for vegetarians, vegans, and others with dietary restrictions.

Final Thoughts

Given the convenience, quality, and taste of Tovala’s meals, I would continue to use the service occasionally, especially for one-off lunches or dinners when I don’t have the time or energy to cook. But at a base price of $9.99 per one-serving meal, it is more money than I would like to spend on daily meals, so I would likely stick to the four-meal plan. Overall, the service is a good investment for busy people who want the ease of flavorful, quick-heating meals and are comfortable eating meals heavy on starch and protein.


Can You Freeze Tovala Meals?

Tovala meals arrive cold in an insulated box and should ideally be stored in the refrigerator, as freezing ingredients can impact their quality and taste when cooking. Freeze any raw vegetables, proteins, garnishes, and sauces before the meal’s expiration date, which is listed on each box. You should never freeze raw salads or sides that are not meant to be cooked, and to ensure meals cook properly, you should thaw any frozen items overnight in the refrigerator before heating them in the oven. 

Are Tovala Meals Low in Sodium?

Tovala’s weekly rotating menu includes over 30 different dishes per week. While each meal plan includes some carb-conscious, vegetarian, and gluten-free dishes, there are no designated low-sodium meals. Tovala lists each meal’s nutritional profile on the website and app, which is the best way to determine if a meal is low in sodium or meets your particular dietary goals.

What Is the Tovala Smart Oven?

The Tovala Smart Oven is a countertop appliance designed to cook the brand’s fresh meal kits. Each meal is labeled with a QR code, which you can scan to set the oven to cook at the correct temperature for the right amount of time. You can also use the oven to reheat smaller items like slices of pizza or use it for traditional baking, air frying, steaming, and broiling. 

How Many Servings Are in a Tovala Meal?

Most Tovala meals are single-serving to fit inside the oven, which is 18.5 inches long, 14.32 inches deep, and 11.75 inches high. A limited number of weekly dishes are available in both one- and two-serving portions, but the specific options vary by week. The company occasionally offers special add-on meal kits serving four to six people.

Where Are Tovala Meals Made?

Tovala prepares its meals in two kitchens — one in Chicago and one in Salt Lake City. After preparation, meals are boxed and shipped directly to customers based on their distance from these hubs. All meals arrive to customers within 48 hours of shipping. 

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