By now, everyone is familiar with meal kits like HelloFresh. Even if you’ve never used a meal kit service yourself, you probably know someone who has used it at some point. Meal kits have become increasingly popular in recent years, but what’s the reason behind their sudden rise to popularity? Is it all hype, or are they providing real value?
Today I’ll cover the differences between subscribing to a meal kit service and going to your local grocery store. They both certainly have their advantages, but your decision will ultimately depend on what you find most important when it comes to meal prep.
To help you decide which option suits you best, I’ll compare and judge using a meal kit service like HelloFresh to grocery shopping on the following points:
- Price comparison
- Level of convenience
- Food waste and packaging waste
- Quality of products
- Level of cooking skills
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HelloFresh is a meal kit company that focuses on providing healthy food options with a high focus on sustainability. At HelloFresh, there are 4 options to choose from. All of these prices include the shipping fee:
- 3 meals for 2 people: $78.93
- 3 meals for 4 people: $133.95
- 4 meals for 2 people: $99.98
- 4 meals for 4 people: $165
For the purposes of comparison, we will focus on their first price point plan—three meals for two people at $78.93. This means that per meal, you are paying about $13.16
At the grocery store, this plan will cost you roughly $45. In other words, you will be paying $7.50 per meal. This is assuming that you are purchasing the same, if not similar, items.
It’s clear that shopping at the grocery store is the most cost effective option. So, if your priority is to save money, you may decide that grocery shopping is preferable to meal kits. If saving money is not your main goal, however, and you instead place higher value on things like ease of meal planning and convenience, then you may want to consider meal kits as an option.
It’s also important to remember that most people are not replacing grocery shopping entirely with meal kits. While that’s an option, most people are customizing their food shopping using a combination of grocery shopping and subscription meal kits depending on their lifestyle and needs. In other words, the expense of meal kits can be a manageable option.
Australia, Canada, Europe, United States
|Dietary Plans Available:||
Two (Couple), Four (Family)
|Price per Plate||
$10 to $15
Level of convenience
As mentioned earlier, meal kits don’t need to replace grocery shopping entirely. If you have a week coming up where you know you will be busy and every minute of your day counts, then meal kits are the perfect option. In the area of convenience, meal kits are certainly preferable to grocery shopping.
HelloFresh does the work of creating a meal plan for you, so you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to cook each week and how you’re going to make the time to take a trip to the grocery store. All that’s required of you is to choose from the delicious meals available on their website in order to customize the recipes you will receive. You can choose between veggie boxes, meat boxes, and pescatarian boxes.
Food waste and packaging waste
As a responsible citizen, it’s important to consider the environmental impact of your consumption and to try and make the most sustainable decisions possible. The topic of waste is extremely important considering the environmental issues we face as a global community. Let’s consider the food waste and packaging waste of subscribing to a meal kit service versus grocery shopping:
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that approximately 17% of the total global food production may be wasted. The UNEP’s “Food Waste Index Report 2021” estimates that the food waste accumulation from households, retailers, and foodservice amounts to 931 million tons every year.
It may be surprising, but the biggest culprit of this waste are consumers—nearly 61% of food waste happens at the household level. This is in contrast to 26% of food waste that comes from food service and 13% that comes from retail.
The goal should always be to buy only enough so that you use it and don’t waste it— though sometimes it doesn’t work out perfectly. On occasion you may end up buying more than you use, or you may buy perishables and not use them in time before they spoil.
With meal kits, you are eliminating your carbon footprint in this regard. All the ingredients are measured out according to portion sizes. As a result, you’ll only be purchasing exactly what you need to cook your meal. In fact, even the spice blends are portioned according to the number of meals.
Waste also comes in the form of containers that your food comes in. Many grocery items are still packaged using non-recyclable materials. On the other hand, HelloFresh is committed to sustainable packaging. For example, almost all of the packaging of your meals arrives in recyclable material, previously recycled material, or both.
In addition, the cardboard box that the meals are delivered in are made of recycled and virgin fibers. To dispose of the box, you can simply fold it and throw it in with your other recyclables. The paper kit bags are recyclable and compostable, and the cardboard separator can be left for curbside recycling.
As for variety, both traditional grocery shopping and meal kits offer a wide variety of food options and potential dishes. In regards to shopping for yourself, you have every option ahead of you—an advantage that can also be a little overwhelming or intimidating. If you don’t want to be tied down at all and enjoy creating your own shopping list, then grocery shopping may be the way.
On the other hand, HelloFresh adds new recipes often. They offer over 50 menu and market items every week that feature a wide variety of meat, fish, and seasonal produce. This allows you to try new foods without having to spend time trying to find recipes yourself—especially if you’re not all that creative in the kitchen. They also include recipe cards with your meal kit so that preparing the meal is easy.
Quality of products
In regards to grocery stores, food quality will depend on how much you budget for food. It’s not always the case that cheaper items lack in quality, but it is true that organic food, for instance, is more expensive than inorganic food. Regarding produce, the availability of fresh produce can be hit and miss, depending on the store.
With meal kits, the quality of your food is consistent. HelloFresh focuses on sourcing high quality ingredients. Most meals include fresh produce and some of the items available are organic.
Level of cooking skills
Regardless of your cooking expertise, both grocery shopping and meal kits are entirely feasible options. If cooking is not your greatest skill and you choose to go grocery shopping, it will just require some preparation as you find recipes that are a little more straight-foward. Over time, as you gain confidence in the kitchen, you can introduce more complex recipes.
On the other hand, a meal kit is an option that suits any skill level. To prevent any confusion while you’re cooking, HelloFresh will send you the ingredients in exact measurements. The recipes are also included for each meal so that you are able to easily follow along.
What’s better: HelloFresh Meal Kits or Grocery Shopping?
All in all, your decision about whether or not to incorporate meal kits like HelloFresh into your meal planning will be dependent on what you value when it comes to preparing your food. If you like to experiment with your cooking and don’t want to be restricted at all, then grocery shopping may be your best bet. It’s also slightly cheaper than HelloFresh.
On the other hand, If it’s important for you to eliminate as much time from food prep as possible while also creating restaurant-quality meals, then meal kits like HelloFresh could be a great way to improve efficiency. While slightly more expensive, it delivers good value in terms of time saved and reduced food waste as well.
Which one do you prefer — having HelloFresh delivered to your door or heading out to the grocery store? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts!