Meal kits have exploded in popularity over the last decade, especially as we’ve entered a work-from-home environment, where cooking lunch rather than eating out is often preferred.
While meal kits tout benefits like convenience, quality ingredients, and time-saving, will a meal delivery service actually save you money?
- What Are Meal Delivery Services?
- Can They Save You Money?
- Can They Save You Time?
- Unseen Benefits of Meal Kits
- The Final Verdict
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What Are Meal Delivery Services?
Meal delivery services operate on a very simple premise, they provide the ingredients and recipe straight to your door, then you cook the food. Some of the most popular meal delivery services include HelloFresh, Chefs Plate, Blue Apron, and Good Food. Each of these meal kits offers different meal plans geared towards individuals, couples, and families.
Before the pandemic, one out of every seven households had a meal kit subscription but in 2020, that quickly rose by 50% to be nearly one in four families.
The social distancing and lockdown measures laid the foundation for working professionals and families to fully experience the benefits of meal kit services. But as time passes and a sense of normalcy has returned, many people are wondering more about the dollars and cents of their meal subscriptions.
How Much Money Can A Meal Kit Save You?
When considering the price of a meal kit, consider two factors: First, the price of the meal kits themselves, and second, the opportunity cost.
Chefs plate has an average price of $8.99 per plate. Let’s take their beef curry naanwiches and break down how much it would cost to make this same meal at home assuming you had none of these items in your pantry. We’ll use Statistics Canada data and Walmart prices:
- Ground Beef: $12.52 per kilogram ($2.84 per 227 grams)
- Mango Chutney: $6.95 per 250ml ($0.80 per 2 tablespoons)
- Naan Bread: $2.47 for 5 pieces ($1.00 for 2 pieces)
- Sour Cream: $2.28 per 500ml ($0.20 for 3 tablespoons)
- Baby Spinach: $5.97 per 454 grams ($0.75 for 56 grams)
- Yellow Onion: $2.37 per kilogram ($0.27 per 113 grams)
- Rice Vinegar: $4.27 per 250ml ($0.13 per half a tablespoon)
- Garlic Cloves: $0.68 for 3 pieces
- Indian Spice Blend (one-third of each spice)
- Cumin Powder: $1.97 per 100 grams ($0.10 per one-third of a tablespoon)
- Curry Powder: $1.97 per 100 grams ($0.10 per one-third of a tablespoon)
- Turmeric Powder: $2.27 per 100 grams ($0.11 per one-third of a tablespoon)
Altogether it would cost $46.78 in BC, $49.40 in ON, and $45.90 in AB for all the ingredients including tax. The price per plate before tax would be $6.98.
Even though the cost of a meal delivery kit is higher than purchasing the items from a grocery shop, consider the non-monetary costs.
Will spending the additional money on a meal kit help you save more money in the long run? Personally, I’ve noticed an improvement in my budget after paying for a meal kit delivery service.
Let’s break down why a meal kit can actually cost less than going to a grocery store:
High-quality ingredients often come with a high price tag; however, meal kit services like HelloFresh have their own local farms built to give you the best produce and meats for the lowest price. This has allowed me to eat healthy food without sacrificing my monthly budget.
For a more detailed breakdown check out my post on HelloFresh vs the Grocery Store
Planning a meal often comes with a large shopping list and more often than not I’ve had to throw out extra produce and chicken breast because I didn’t cook them fast enough.
This is why I love how meal kits come with pre-portioned ingredients. Not only does it allow me to save money on my grocery bill by buying fewer items but it also allows me to produce less waste.
An added benefit is that if there are any leftovers from the meal, they make an easy lunch or dinner the next day!
The biggest benefit of meal kits is that they allow you to save money on eating out. Let’s be honest, the idea of planning and cooking dinner after a long day at work is daunting. There has been more than one occasion where I fell prey to takeout fatigue.
After introducing meal kits into the equation, not only do I find that it provides structure to my post-work routine but it has allowed me to resist the temptation of ordering out.
My monthly budget and I have finally been able to get along!
Meal kits follow a system where each week they are delivered straight to your front door, however, you have the option to skip a week. I cannot tell you how helpful this feature has been.
Life can be very busy and more often than not I find myself planning my schedule around when I should go grocery shopping. Now with a click of a button, I no longer have to worry about using the produce in my fridge out of fear that it’ll become rotten.
How Much Time Can A Meal Kit Save You?
One benefit of Meal kit delivery services is that they always save you time and energy on the meal planning process. Here’s what I mean:
Meal Planning, Prep & Cooking
Planning a meal arguably takes double the amount of time you anticipated. I found that even a simple meal that should have taken only 15 minutes easily stretched to 30+ minutes.
Suddenly, my entire evening is eaten up, pun very much intended. I think this is what initially drew my attention to meal delivery kits, for me the selling point wasn’t about saving money but instead saving time.
With many kits noting the expected cooking time, I have a much better gauge of how long my meals take to cook. Because of that, I have more time with my family and hobbies.
Unseen Benefits Of Meal Delivery Services
Since I started ordering meal kits I’ve noticed several benefits I didn’t foresee:
Trying New Cooking Techniques
I used to fall into a routine where I would eat the same meals because I knew how to make them. When I got my first recipe card from HelloFresh, I was put a little outside of my comfort zone.
It was totally worth it!
Once you get out of your cooking comfort zone, you realize that the same ingredients you once used now have completely different possibilities.
Being More Conscious Of My Carbon Footprint
As an individual, it is sometimes easy to forget how big of a role we play in the environment. Oftentimes we choose the convenience factor over what’s right, leading to impulse purchases and more waste.
Each week I received my box, I found myself wondering “Where did my food come from?” I think when food is laid out in a grocery store you don’t always stop and think about it.
This led me to read more about sustainability and examine how my life plays a role in this process. After spending hours reading about sustainability, carbon neutrality, and ways to reduce food waste, I came to these conclusions:
- I should prioritize my local grocery store or buy local ingredients
- I should prioritize fresh ingredients
I don’t think I would have had this internal reflection had I just continued to buy groceries at the store.
I think one large thing that most people forget is that food should be created for more than just satisfying your hunger. Since ordering meal kits, I have reignited my passion for cooking and fell back in love with the process.
I’m nothing more than an amateur home chef, yet I now find more enjoyment in preparing a meal instead of opting for takeout food or dining out.
The Final Verdict
In my opinion, I think Meal kit delivery services are totally worth it. Let’s break down the pros and cons of meal kits.
- Super convenient
- Fun cooking process
- Save lots of time and energy
- Save money in the long run
- Costs slightly more than buying individual items at the grocery store
- Individual packaging can still create a lot of waste
- Meal plans are not as accommodating to special diets
The biggest selling point of a meal kit service is that they can help you save time. We often overlook how valuable our time is and should base more decisions around preserving this valuable resource.
Meal kits are also still less expensive than eating out and they’ve allowed me to enjoy the process of cooking by thinking of it as less of a chore and more of a hobby. Each day, I can’t wait to have fun in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes.
If you’re interested in reading more about my experiences check out: