Meal delivery services have become more and more popular in recent years for many reasons. In this review, you can learn all you need to know about meal kit delivery services, from how they work to the main benefits, pricing, and more.
First Thing First, How Do Meal Kit Delivery Services Work?
Most meal kit service options begin with selecting how many weekly meals you’d like to receive. Then, you’ll note any dietary restrictions you have. After entering details such as your name, delivery address, and payment method, you can select your weekly meals (including snacks and add-ons, like extra protein).
Each meal kit delivery service caters to different diets, though most offer low-carb or low-calorie options. The meal delivery services cost varies, depending on how many meals are selected, which meal service is selected, etc.
Types of Meal Delivery Services On The Market
A few types of meal delivery kits are currently available, ranging from ready-made meals to meal kits that help you create home-cooked meals in a snap.
Meal kit services like Hello Fresh, Green Chef, and Home Chef provide fresh ingredients to your door so you can craft meals in the comfort of your home. These meal kits arrive with pre-portioned items, including fresh herbs/seasonings, produce, and protein. They require minimal kitchen ingredients, like olive oil, salt, and pepper. Typically, all the ingredients are marked in each meal delivery kit, making it easier to decipher which items go with which recipe.
Prepared Meal Delivery Services
Meal delivery services (including Factor and BistroMD) supply pre-made meals that can be heated in the microwave (or, in some cases, the oven/grill). With these options, you don’t have to meal plan, meal prep, or do any cleanup in the kitchen after your meal. They’re great for those with busy schedules who don’t have time to cook during the week.
Sometimes, meal delivery service options offer meal kits and prepped meals. A few examples of companies that provide both include Home Chef and Martha & Marley Spoon. Weekly deliveries can have as many meal kits or prepared meals as you need, so you can adjust them to your preferences.
Main Benefits of Using Meal Delivery Service
Here are some of the benefits of using a meal delivery service:
Convenience – Less Time On Meal Planning, Shopping, And Meal Prep
Meal delivery services save time and effort. Instead of shopping for groceries and preparing meals, you can have fresh, healthy meals delivered to your door. As mentioned, this also helps you save time coming up with meals for the week. This means you won’t have to take time out of your week to craft a grocery list.
Healthier Eating Options
Many meal delivery services offer healthy options, such as organic or locally sourced ingredients and portion-controlled meals, which can help you maintain a healthy diet. Unlike takeout meals, you can adjust the salt and oil with meal kits to help create healthier dishes. Plus, meal delivery companies usually ensure their meals have veggies included. Some meal services also work with nutritionists or dieticians to craft the meals, ensuring they have the proper nutrients for your goals.
Many meal delivery services allow you to customize your meals to your dietary and food preferences. Depending on the service, you can select the type of meals you desire (vegetarian, low-carb, gluten-free, etc.) or filter the available meals to your preferences. You can also customize the number of meals you receive per week.
Can Fit Different Diets
As mentioned above, meal kit delivery services can work with different diets. So, they’re customizable to your needs. When selecting meals, you can typically find options such as gluten-free, vegetarian, low-calorie, or low-carb.
Meal delivery services offer many meal options, which can help you avoid boredom and excite your taste buds.
Depending on the meal delivery service, you’ll have a selection of 20+ meals each week. The weekly menu typically includes rotating meals and new choices from different culinary styles (American, Italian, Mexican, Asian, and more), so you can select your favorites and try new dishes simultaneously.
Expand Your Cooking Skills
Ordering from a meal delivery service is an excellent way to improve your kitchen skills. Each meal kit has clear directions so that you can follow an easy step-by-step process. The more meals you create, the more comfortable you will be in the kitchen. Since the ingredients are already portioned out, you can focus on your cooking skills instead of gathering the items for the recipe.
Cost-Effective – Top-Quality Ingredients For Less
While some meal delivery services can be expensive, others offer affordable options, especially when compared to eating out at restaurants. Most meal delivery services use high-quality ingredients, so you can make restaurant-quality meals without paying restaurant prices.
An Eco-Friendly Choice
- Reduced food waste: Meal kit service can help reduce waste because the ingredients are pre-portioned, meaning there is less likelihood of throwing away excess food. Some meal kit companies also use “ugly” produce that may have otherwise gone to waste.
- Locally sourced farm-fresh and organic ingredients: Some meal kit companies prioritize using locally sourced and organic ingredients, which can reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation and pesticides.
- Packaging: While meal kit companies strive to use recyclable materials for packaging, the amount of packaging required can still be a concern for some. Some companies have implemented compostable or reusable packaging as an alternative.
Do Meal Delivery Services Save You Money?
Meal delivery services can be easier on your wallet than eating out and grocery shopping, especially if your concern is reducing food waste.
Below, we explore the cost benefits of meal delivery services in more depth.
Meal Kit Services Vs. Grocery Shopping
Recently, there has been a rise in costs for groceries which has put most groceries about 12% higher than previously. In comparison, meal kit costs have only risen about 5% to 8%, so they are typically the more affordable option. Of course, this may not be the case with some pricier meal kits and meal delivery services.
If you typically have produce or other items going bad in your kitchen, you lose money each time you throw them out. Since meal kits have pre-portioned ingredients, you won’t need to toss out any items that have gone bad. So, you save money on food waste each time you purchase a meal kit.
Another factor when considering the cost of meal kits vs. grocery shopping is the gas money spent on driving to and from the grocery store. While some meal deliveries charge a delivery fee, some have it embedded in the cost, so in comparison, it may be cheaper than hitting the store.
Meal Kits Vs. Takeout
The rising cost of groceries has also impacted the cost of food in restaurants since they are directly related. Many times, a single portion at a restaurant is around 1.5x (or more) costly than a meal created from a meal kit.
Generally, each has multiple portions (as most meal kit dishes are meant to be split between 2-6 people). This causes the cost per serving to be less than takeout from a local spot that serves the same quality of food (organic, locally sourced ingredients, etc.).
While you can find cheaper takeout than a meal kit, it’s usually lower quality ingredients. These cheaper takeout options are not as healthy and typically have higher oil levels.
Moreover, meal kits can also be helpful in portion control because they typically come pre-portioned with the exact amount of ingredients needed for the recipe. Many times, takeouts and over-ordering can be common causes of overeating.
Many meal kit services also provide nutritional information and serving sizes for each recipe, which can help you make more informed choices about what and how much you’re eating. This information can be beneficial if you’re trying to follow a specific diet or meet certain nutritional goals.
Bottom Line – Are Meal Kits Worth It?
In our opinion, meal kit services are worth it, especially if you have a busy schedule during the week. If you’re looking to skip meal planning, including listing ingredients for your grocery shop and spending time at grocery stores, meal kits may be a good fit.
Their other benefits, such as healthier, cheaper meals and less food waste, are great reasons to add meal kits and meal delivery services to your weekly routine.
With the option to adjust the frequency of the deliveries by skipping a week or putting the deliveries on hold, the ability to select the number of delicious meals per week and less expensive options like Everyplate or Dinnerly, it’s possible to alter the cost to your budget needs.
Consider meal kits services like Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, or Green Chef for those whose schedule allows time to cook. If cooking does not sound appealing, or you don’t have time during the week, a meal delivery service like Factor is a good option that will also allow you to eat healthy. Or, you can select one of the meal delivery companies that offer both.