What I Think about Meal Kit Delivery Services
written by Mike Ballew August 28, 2022

Meal kit delivery services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh claim to save time, provide better nutrition, and reduce food waste. This is what I think about meal kit delivery services.

There are countless articles on the internet comparing every meal kit service available and ranking them on value, quality, and convenience. God bless them for undertaking what seems like a monumental task, this isn’t one of them. This is the story of what happens when a frugal guy is exposed to the concept of meal kit delivery services.

Meal Kit Delivery Services

Let’s begin by defining meal kit delivery service. A meal kit delivery service is not a food delivery app like Uber Eats that delivers restaurant food. A meal kit delivery service is not a prepared meal delivery service like Freshly that delivers already-cooked meals that you heat and eat. Meal kit delivery services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh ship boxes of groceries and other pre-portioned ingredients with instructions on how to prepare and cook each meal. You slice and dice and cook things in pots and pans just like you normally would.

I say “exposed to the concept of meal kit delivery services" because it wasn’t my idea. My wife earns her own money and what she does with it is her business. She announced she signed up for Hello Fresh and so it began.

I must admit, left to my own devices I would have never tried it. These companies are shipping groceries and making a profit off it. By the time you add packaging and shipping, surely it costs more than going to the grocery store. Plus, there’s an unlimited supply of free recipes on the internet. We both cook and I know how to make three meals, which admittedly are all practically the same thing: spaghetti, chili, and tacos. 

As it turns out, despite my preconceived notion that meal kit delivery services are just another unnecessary extravagance for rich people like private jets and infinity pools, they really aren’t that expensive. Dave Ramsey did a study comparing the total cost of ingredients purchased at a grocery store vs. a major meal kit delivery service and based on two servings with shipping they were all within a few dollars of each other. In one case, the meal kit was cheaper.

Chicken sausage pizza $14.13 $19.98
Meatloaf with sweet potatoes and beans $20.42 $19.98
Chicken orzo with zucchini and tomatoes $17.17 $19.98

What I Think about Meal Kit Delivery Services

On average you’re spending about two bucks more per meal. What do you get for your money? For one thing, time savings and convenience. You are not spending your time and gas money going to the grocery store. You are not hunting for recipes on the internet, most of which come with way more narrative and background than you want.

For another – and this might be the greatest benefit – a great idea. I don’t believe there’s a single meal we would have prepared on our own were it up to us. Meal kit delivery services are perfect for trying new things. We’ve been wanting to eat healthier and add some vegetarian fare to our routine, but it’s hard to get started. Almost all of our children and their significant others are vegetarian or vegan, which can be challenging when they come to visit. I must say we’ve prepared numerous Hello Fresh vegetarian meals that were very good and lacked nothing.

There are two reasons meal kit delivery services are comparable in terms of cost to conventional cooking. The first is portion control. They send you only enough ingredients to prepare each meal. When you do it the old-fashioned way, you buy whatever size is available at the store and leftovers end up in the trash after they’ve spent the requisite time going bad in the refrigerator.

The second is competition. There are a lot of meal kit delivery services and to remain competitive they have to slash prices. Most of them give away a significant number of free meals to entice you to sign up. It’s a tough business and one of the innovators, Blue Apron, has been in the news for struggling to make a profit.

Meal kit delivery services are not for everyone. The ideal scenario are couples who work outside the home. If you live outside the delivery area, it’s a no go. A lot of the meals are pretty spicy and the cost differential adds up per serving, so it might not be a good fit for families with small children. The meal kits are designed for two to four servings, so singles living alone would have a lot of leftovers.

Meal kit delivery services are definitely worth a try. For most people, it’s not a forever thing. In fact, at the 12-month mark only about 10% still subscribe. If nothing else you can collect the recipes of meals you liked and make them on your own.

Photo credit: Pixabay The Eggstack Blog will never post an article influenced by an outside company or advertiser. Our mission is to help you overcome uncertainty about retirement planning and inspire confidence in your financial future.
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