Meal kits have exploded in popularity, and for good reason. They’re a convenient way to make sure you’re cooking healthy meals at home that also taste good, but don’t require advanced cooking skills. While most of these services are similar in that they deliver a package of pre-portioned typically high-quality ingredients for you to whip up at home, there can be some notable differences among them.
Depending on what you find most important, some meal kits may be better suited for your lifestyle needs than others. Below, we’ve compiled a list of criteria that you can use to judge the many meal kits on the market to help you narrow down which delivery service is best for you.
Of course, one of the biggest factors to consider for most people is price. The prices of meal kit services can differ greatly. If you’re using this service as a complete replacement for buying groceries and cooking at home, then it’s important that you find a service that’s budget-friendly. Finding an option that works for the long-run is important, as developing a routine is essential to building a healthy eating regimen.
If you already have a set routine and meal kits are a way to reduce prep time and stress during periods when you’re busier than usual, then you’ll have more flexibility when choosing between meal kits. Whatever the case is for you, be sure to consider the per meal cost as well as shipping and other fees so that you’re not surprised by additional charges.
If you’re hoping to replace grocery shopping with this service to some degree, a pro tip to think about is that ordering the largest kit for a family works out to less cost per plate than ordering a smaller kit for a couple or individual. Ordering somewhat in bulk will help save you money in the long-run.
Another important consideration is the type of diet you’re on, and I’m not talking about weight-loss diets! Some meal kit services offer special packages for those who are gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, etc. These packages are better suited for you if you identify with any one of these dietary restrictions.
Of course, you can still purchase whichever meal kit you like and pick and choose between the ingredients you use. To avoid food waste altogether, however, you may want to find a service that caters to your dietary needs.
Be sure to look through the many meal kit companies and their offerings so that you’re confident that the meal options meet your dietary requirements.
Look for a meal kit delivery service that’s flexible and offers you the ability to customize the kits you receive. Whether you follow a strict diet, have allergies, or are just interested in experiencing an array of flavor profiles, customization is key to a great meal kit experience. This is especially true if you’re hoping to use these kits for a prolonged period of time.
Remember that regardless of the kind of food you’re in the mood for and regardless of your dietary restrictions, a good meal kit company will be able to offer you the opportunity to experiment while still offering nutritional value. This will help to make your meal plans more appealing. Try to keep an eye out for vegetable-heavy meals, because veggies allow for assortment when it comes to customizing meals.
People choose to cook at home not only because it’s more affordable than eating out, but also because it’s often the healthier option. When you cook your meals at home, you can control the ingredients and therefore the nutritional value of your food.
Keep this same objective in mind when choosing between meal kit delivery services. On the surface, many of these services appear healthy since they offer healthy ingredients in their bundles; however, it’s often the case that the recipes that are put together are more focused on taste, so it’ll be difficult to find low carb, sodium, and fat options with enough lean protein. This is an important consideration if you’re looking to develop healthier meal plans.
With this in mind, be sure to keep an eye out for macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat) and calories in your food so that you can judge whether the meals are nutritionally balanced. Reach for meal kits that contain fresh vegetables and protein-heavy meals and pay attention to how much you’re eating per serving.
Why is sustainability important when it comes to choosing a meal kit? Because being environmentally conscious is everyone’s responsibility and with that comes being aware of how much waste you produce as an individual.
Meal kits can be overly reliant on packaging, especially since ingredients are pre-portioned and packaged. This means subscribing to them would equal more plastic and waste than if you were to buy groceries. Many meal kit companies, however, are trying to combat the waste problem by choosing packaging that’s mostly recyclable. Choosing a company that cares about its environmental impact is one step toward waste reduction.
Food waste is also a huge problem in North America and a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In this area, meal kits come out as the environmentally friendly option in comparison to buying groceries. In fact, the average meals purchased from a store are guilty of 33% more greenhouse gas emissions than the equivalent meals provided through a service.
Meal prep time
It’s fairly obvious that a subscription to a meal service will cut down on how much time you spend making prepared meals because you won’t have to find time to plan your weekly meals and go shopping. This means you can spend more time preparing your meal plan for the week in advance, which will hopefully add up to extra free time in your day overall.
In addition, these services often come with recipe cards which provide fool-proof, step by step instructions that make the whole process of cooking a healthy meal quick and easy. On average, it only takes about 30-40 minutes to prepare a great meal and some companies even offer pre-prepped fresh ingredients, such as vegetables that are already chopped or minced to eliminate that extra time.
Many meal kits also come with weekly menu choices so that you have a plethora of options to choose from.
Ordering and receiving delivery
Most people subscribe to meal kits particularly for convenience, so the last thing you want to do is worry about where your food is and if it’ll be in good shape once it arrives. You want a service that’s as uncomplicated as possible, while also protecting your package against the elements so that it arrives safely.
When considering a specific meal kit service there are factors to consider regarding ordering and receiving your delivery. For instance, it’s crucial to figure out how easy or difficult it is to make changes to your service, how many meals per week they offer, and how last minute you can place your order. Other factors to weigh are what the delivery process is like and how to track your package. Features like receiving text updates can be a nice touch so that you don’t have to constantly check yourself.
Many meal kit delivery services offer intro deals to help you decide whether the kit is right for you. Intro deals are important because they give you a chance to try out the recipes and see if you like the service’s processes. They help me make certain that I’m satisfied with the service I choose.
Some companies offer a certain number of free meals that are spread out over several orders and some offer a number of free meals right off the bat on your first order. This not only saves you money by providing you meals for free, but it will give you a better idea of their meal plans.
Membership commitment and cancellation
Commitment and cancellation are important factors to consider in case there are some weeks that you want to skip receiving a package. It’s important to know what the deadlines are because if you miss them, the company will often choose the meals for you. Typically you’ll get sent reminders via email regarding upcoming dates to choose your meals, but it’s important that you keep these dates in mind.
Also, if you know that you’ll be occasionally (or frequently) pausing your subscription, make sure that the service you choose allows you the flexibility to pause your membership and resume at your will.
Check out the reviews
By now, we all know that reading reviews online is a great way to gauge the quality of a product or service. Reading a meal kit review will help you get to know what real people think about the service without signing up for a single one.
While you may want to still give the intro deals a shot so that you can form your own opinions, reviews will help you narrow down your search and will give you a head start instead of having to do the work of compiling the information yourself. Reading about other people’s experience with these companies will equip you with the information you need so that you can make the best decision when it comes to, not only the service you choose, but the plan you sign up for.
You also don’t have to scour the internet searching for reviews either. Check out my meal kit reviews on a variety of meal kit services across Canada. You can filter the list of reviews by geographical area, diet, price, etc. to find exactly what you’re looking for.
How to choose
To figure out the service that works best for you, take a look at all of the criteria I’ve listed above and figure out which factors matter most to you. Once you’ve pinned down your priorities, read some reviews and sign up for an intro deal to get a feel for the company.
Finally, don’t be scared to experiment! As long as you make sure you’re not tied down commitment-wise, you can give a company a try for a few weeks and see how you like it. This way you’ll find the meal kit service that checks all of your boxes.