Meal Kits vs Grocery: Which is Cheaper?

As the cost of groceries continues to fluctuate, a burning question lingers: are meal kits cheaper than groceries? 

Meal kit services offer unequalled convenience when it comes to home cooking and a diverse array of delicious recipes with the click of a button. These subscription-based packages deliver pre-portioned ingredients right to your doorstep, reducing the hassles of meal planning.

But does this accessibility come at a cost, or can meal kits prove to be a budget-friendly choice compared to the traditional grocery budget? I’ll dive into the details below and help you decide.

The Convenience of Meal Kits

Meal kits offer a level of convenience that shopping at a supermarket simply can’t match. So, if you’re looking to simplify your mealtime routine while possibly saving both time and money, meal kits might just be the answer you’ve been looking for.

Pre-portioned ingredients: With meal kits, you get exactly what you need for each recipe, reducing food waste and saving you money in the long run. No more impulse buying or overestimating ingredients at the grocery store, only to have them go to waste. 

Easy-to-follow recipes: With each meal kit, you get step-by-step instructions, making recipes accessible even to novice chefs. Plus, you get to explore new and exciting cuisines without the hassle of hunting down unnecessary portions of exotic ingredients in grocery stores.

Time-saving: Shopping can be time-consuming, especially when you consider the commute, aisle browsing, and waiting in checkout lines. You can have dinner on the table in less time than it takes for a shopping trip, allowing you to salvage precious moments in your day.

The Cost of Grocery Shopping

Traditional trips to the supermarket encompass more than just picking up ingredients from the store shelves; it can influence your budget in many ways, so it’s worth analyzing the possible hidden costs that often go unnoticed. 

Time-consuming: A trip to the grocery store may seem simple, but count the time spent commuting to and from the store, navigating packed aisles, and waiting in long checkout lines and the minutes quickly add up.

Transportation costs: Whether you’re driving or using public transportation, there’s a cost required to get yourself to the store. The price of fuel, parking fees, or bus fare can add up over time, adding to your overall grocery budget.

Impulse purchases: We’re all familiar with the allure of the grocery store’s strategically placed snacks and enticing sales! It’s easy to fall victim to impulse purchases when you spot a tempting candy display or a “buy one, get one free” deal. These unplanned purchases can significantly increase your grocery bill.

Food waste: It’s not unusual for items bought during grocery trips to end up spoiled and thrown away, further affecting your grocery budget. However, meal delivery services provide precisely portioned ingredients, reducing the chances of waste.

In addition to all of the above, rising grocery prices, intensified by inflation, pose a challenge to foresee the exact cost of groceries and stay within your budget. 

In the next section, I’ll delve deeper into the economics of meal kits versus traditional shopping to help you make an informed decision about your own food expenditures.

The Cost of Meal Kits

To make an educated choice between meal delivery and traditional shopping, it’s key to understand the pricing arrangement of meal kit services. Meal kit costs usually involve several factors, including subscription fees, delivery fees, and meal costs.

Subscription fees: Most meal kit companies offer subscription plans where you choose the number of meals and servings you want each week. These subscriptions often come with a fixed fee, such as a weekly or monthly charge.

Meal costs: The heart of the matter is in the actual cost per meal. Meal kit companies generally charge a price per serving. This cost differs based on things like seasonality, the number of ingredients in the recipe, and the quality of ingredients.

Delivery fees: Finally, there may be a delivery fee accompanying your meal kit cost that is delivered to your doorstep. Some meal delivery services include this fee in the subscription price, while others charge it separately.

When comparing meal delivery costs to traditional grocery shopping, reflect on not only the total price but also the convenience, portion control, and decrease in food waste you may experience. While meal kits may seem slightly pricier per meal, they can provide overall value by streamlining your meal planning and guaranteeing you use every ingredient efficiently.

Real Life Example: Dinnerly

Dinnerly is a prime example of a budget-friendly meal kit service. With ready-made or cook at home options, I’ll break down everything you need to know to understand how much ordering meal delivery services can actually cost.


Dinnerly comes in at one of the most budget friendly options, ranging from $4.99 to $7.04 per plate, plus $11.99 for shipping. Total costs per week range from $44.15 (2 servings, 2 recipes per week) to $131.75 (4 servings, 6 recipes per week).

Recipes and Portions:

The serving sizes are for 2 or 4 servings per recipe, and you can choose between 2 and 6 recipes per week from their 100+ options. This means you could get anything from 4 to 24 meals in a week, depending on the plan you choose. 

Is It Cheaper to Get a Meal Kit or Buy Meals?

If you compare the cost of a cheap meal kit and the cost of grocery shopping, the meal kit can be cheaper. A cheap meal kit costs, on average, $8 per meal (including shipping). 

Let’s dive deeper into the exact costs of creating grocery store meals.

A recipe that Dinnerly is offering this week is the Chicken Vesuvio with Parmesan Potatoes & Peas. The following are the costs at the grocery store for the ingredients to recreate this meal at Safeway:

Total cost: $12.50

Suppose you’re in a large family and you buy in bulk. Here’s the cost breakdown of the Chicken Vesuvio.

Total cost: $9.52

As you can see, at an average of $8 per meal for a lower-priced meal kit, this meal does end up being cheaper if you were to cook it from a meal kit vs. at home from scratch.

Meal Kits vs. Groceries: Which One is For You?

Now that we’ve surveyed the convenience and cost factors of both meal delivery services and traditional shopping, let’s break down which selection might be the right fit for different types of customers: single individuals, couples, and families.

Single Customers

For single individuals, the decision between opting for meal kits or traditional grocery shopping often hinges on factors like cost, variety, and convenience. Meal kits, especially the more affordable ones like EveryPlate, often come out cheaper than buying ingredients separately from a grocery store. As a single, it’s especially harder to buy in bulk as a single, and purchasing smaller portions usually costs more.

Grocery ShoppingMeal Kits
ProsFreedom to cook any dish
Cheaper than buying small portion ingredients
Less food waste
ConsTime consuming
More food waste
Recipes usually feature more economical meats like ground beef, chicken, or turkey


For couples, both meal kits and traditional grocery shopping present distinct advantages and disadvantages. Meal kits, particularly the more affordable option, often prove to be cost-effective, when compared to grocery shopping, even when buying in bulk. 

Grocery ShoppingMeal Kits
ProsOpportunity for couples to collaborate and experiment in the kitchen
Greater flexibility in the kitchen
Eliminates meal planning for busy couples
Wide range of choices for various tastes and dietary preferences
ConsTime consuming
More food waste
May limit a couple’s culinary creativity


One of the most significant benefits of meal kits for families is the convenience they offer. They effectively eliminate the time and stress associated with meal planning and grocery shopping, allowing parents more quality time to spend with their children. Additionally, from a financial perspective, meal kits can often be more economical, even when compared to buying groceries in bulk.

Grocery ShoppingMeal Kits
ProsFlexibility to curate meals for picky eaters
Eliminates stress of meal planning and grocery shopping
Allows parents to spend more time with their children
ConsTime consuming
Carefully planning required
May cost more than meal kits
May not cater to diverse tates of families—especially if children are involved

Are Meal Kits A Good Value?

Meal kits can offer good value, considering the rising grocery prices in Canada and the USA. According to the USDA, the Customer Price Index (CPI) for groceries is up 3.6% since July 2022. 

While they may seem a bit pricier per serving, the convenience, portion control, and reduced food waste can justify the cost for singles and couples.  

Striking Balance Between Convenience and Cost

The costs between meal kits and traditional grocery shopping with meal prep can differ considerably, reflecting your unique needs and situation. Rising grocery prices in Canada and the USA have made cost-sensible choices more important than ever. While meal kits do appear to be cheaper than groceries (depending on the meal kit service and types of meals you choose), traditional grocery shopping offers a canvas for culinary creativity, allowing for personalized meals tailored to specific tastes, especially for families with diverse preferences. Ultimately, the choice between meal kits and grocery shopping is a balance of convenience, cost, and culinary creativity, and individuals must weigh these factors based on their unique circumstances.

Natalia S.

Natalia S.

I’m Natalia S., mother, writer, dance teacher, and Airbnb host living with my school-aged daughter in Vancouver. I’m the type of person that loves to eat, is fairly health-conscious…but never cooks. When I’m not busy pinning all the recipes that I won’t cook later, I’m wearing every hat that comes with running three businesses and raising a child.

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Meal Kit Comparison - Simplify Your Dinner Decision
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