Is It Worth Subscribing to Food Boxes?

Is It Worth Subscribing to Food Boxes?

Personally, I love cooking. But, it does take a lot of thought, planning, and prep work. After working long hours, the last thing I want to do is more work. I have little desire to cook, let alone think of recipes, so I usually resort to something easy. This usually consists of fast food, takeout, or some other highly-processed prepackaged item with little nutritional value. Recently, a friend of mine was raving about the healthy meals she got from her new meal kit service. To be honest, I balked when she told me how much she paid. However, after looking at my meals the past week I have been asking myself, is it worth subscribing to food boxes?

What You Get When Subscribing to Food Boxes?

Food boxes are becoming popular because they cater to people just like me. I really try to be health-conscious. But, shopping takes time and there are already too few hours in the day. Once COVID-19 spread, I developed even worse eating habits and had less motivation to get to the grocery store.

So, I began looking at the options and seriously considering subscribing to food boxes. The more I read, the more appealing the idea has become. Each week, you receive deliveries of fresh ingredients right to your door step. With various recipes and protein options, you can customize your food boxes to fit your palette and dietary needs.

The entire process seems too easy. Once you set your preferences for frequency, portion sizes, and recipes, the company delivers your ingredients as scheduled. The food box arrives in a cooler-style package with all the meat, produce, grains and unique spices to prepare the meal. However, reviewers noted that they typically exclude condiments like salt and pepper which you would expect to find in your average kitchen.

Each package also includes the recipe and step-by-step instructions to prepare the meals. After looking at the recipes my friend received, they were so simple to follow that even someone who has never cooked before would be able to make a gourmet meal.

What Are the Benefits of Meal Kits?

The first and most obvious benefit of subscribing to a meal kit service is the convenience factor. Not only do they select the recipes for you, but then they deliver it right to your front door. This means you spend no time waiting in line at the grocery store or scouring the internet for new recipes. It also removes the stress of planning and prepping from your shoulders. In fact, it requires no thoughts or decisions on your part whatsoever. All the work is done for you, and then is delivered directly to you in a tidy little package.

Then, of course, there are the health benefits. The meals they provide have much more nutritional value than the fast food diet I have been surviving on. The meal kit service would ensure that I eat better on a regular basis and reduce my dependency on takeout meals. Not only would it help me to maintain a healthier lifestyle, but food boxes also offer more enjoyable healthy food choices. Since you can customize your meal plan to your specific tastes and dietary needs, chances are that I would stick with it longer than other fad diets or stricter food regimens.

Lastly, subscribing to food boxes introduces you to new recipes. When I am able to find time to cook, I usually return to the same recipes again and again. Having the recipe and ingredients chosen for you could help get you out of your creative cooking rut. In addition to experimenting with new recipes, they may also include ingredients you don’t typically use. Ordering from a meal kit service could expand your horizons and teach you new ways to use ingredients you love.

What Is the Cost of Subscribing to Food Boxes?

The cost of these services is the biggest hang up for most people. If you break down the price of prepared meals versus what you pay if you bought food yourself, you will see exactly how much you are paying for convenience.

The average male aged 19-50 spends approximately $86.80 a week for groceries while females in the same age group spend $76.70. In comparison, most food box subscriptions average about $10 per person, per meal. If you do the math for one meal a day for a single person, it would cost $70 a week. That equates to about $300 a month and $3,650 annually. Furthermore, you would still need to buy groceries to supplement two more meals per day.

If you decide to subscribe to a meal kit service like Blue Apron, the cost is comparable to dining out. However, expect additional costs if you have dietary restrictions or want to try specialty items. While the cost is manageable for smaller households, it gets expensive the more people you add. So, it may be affordable for a single or two person household, but not for larger families.

Is it Worth It?

So, here is the million dollar question: Is it worth the money? While many subscribers whole-heartedly say yes, it depends on how much you value convenience. Subscribing to food boxes saves you the time and hassle of planning and preparing elaborate meals, but comes at a steep cost. And don’t forget, you still have to cook the food yourself.

The sad truth is that you will always pay more for quality ingredients. And, portion sizes tend to be smaller, so there will be fewer leftovers than if you shopped for yourself.

However, if you are considering a subscription, why not do a trial offer? Many services offer huge discounts for the first month as well. That way, you could sign up for the cheapest package and try it out before making a commitment. And, even if you decide to cancel, you can still keep the recipes and recreate them later. That way, you can decide for yourself whether it is worth it.

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Blue Apron Free Trial Review

Blue Apron Free Trial Review

Let’s be honest, many of us lack the time or the money to cook unique, cost-efficient meals today.  Whether you are a couple or a family, it is sometimes easiest to just eat out.  Eating out on a regular basis can get very expensive.  So, it’s easy to see how meal delivery services have become so popular, especially with their attractive introductory offers. I recently received a Blue Apron free trial.  I was eager to try and cook my way through a new and adventurous meal, something I wouldn’t normally eat.

As this was a Blue Apron free trial, I had nothing to lose.  I had three meals delivered right to my door.  All of the packaging was recyclable, and it came with a couple of nice reusable freezer packs.  Here is my experience:

Blue Apron Meal: Chipotle-Glazed Meatloaf

Blue Apron Free Trial: Chipotle-Glazed Meatloaf

What I expected:

Blue Apron said the prep time for this meal was just 10 minutes with the cooking time of the meal being between 35-45 minutes.  The card (included in the picture) came with a quick description of the meal along with all of the ingredients for the meal.  Each ingredient listed even came with a picture in case you weren’t sure.  The flip side of the card also came with step by step instructions on how to prepare the meal. Additionally, there were some pictures to assist you along the way.  I laid out all of the ingredients on top of my counter along with the card and began.

The Good: 

You have all of the ingredients you need to create a unique dish.  If you tried to go to the grocery store and buy all of the necessary items to create something similar, you would spend way more than $10/meal.  Also, all of the items looked fresh and appeared top notch.  Everything from the beef, to the potatoes, to the garlic looked like it had been prepared just mere days before.  Finally, Blue Apron also pairs each of the dishes with a wine.

The Bad: 

While the meal card said the prep time was just 10 minutes, this was not the case.  It took me about double that time to prepare the meal.  The only way someone could have done the prep in 10 minutes is if they were highly experienced in the kitchen or if they had prepared this meal before.  The meal also lacked a side of vegetables.  While this might seem quite minor in the details, some healthy vegetables to go along with this meal would have made it complete.  I ended up cooking some green beans to go along with the meat and potatoes.  You also needed some cooking experience to help guide you through.  I don’t believe these meals are for the complete rookie.  For instance, you had to mince garlic, slice potatoes, and needed a few kitchen accessories to complete the meal.

Chipotle-Glazed Meatloaf Dish

Final Opinion of Blue Apron’s Free Trial

Ultimately my Blue Apron free trial was a success.  I was able to create a delicious, unique meal all by myself.  At just around $10/meal, it is also a great value because the same ingredients would cost much more if you purchased them at the store.  Downsides would be that it requires some basic kitchen knowledge and elementary kitchen items.  This meal service is great for a couple who enjoys cooking together and wants to spend some time create different dishes and bonding over the experience.

Continuing Beyond the Free Trial

If you decide to continue purchasing Blue Apron meals after the trial, you have a variety of meal options. The website is very user friendly and lets you browse through their selections easily. Furthermore, they cater to specific dietary needs as well. Pricing varies based on the serving size and the plan you choose. However, you receive a discount for your first week and free shipping. If you aren’t quite ready to commit to the program, the Blue Apron free trial is perfect for you. There’s no risk and you’ll have the chance to sample new dishes for free!

Are you interested in Blue Apron? Get $30 off your first week using this link.

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The 5 Keys for a $100 a Month Grocery Bill

$100 a month grocery bill

How do I eat on $100 a month?  I will tell you some tips for how I manage my grocery bill.  This $100 a month category includes all of the food I purchase at grocery stores along with some occasional household supplies, laundry detergent, toilet paper, etc.  I have a separate row in my budget for “eating out”.  I eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and a couple of snacks throughout the day.  I do not starve myself or eat Ramen and PB & J’s.  I am able to eat healthily and consume items such as chicken, pork, fish and beef.  Lastly, I am only supporting ONE person with this grocery budget, no kids or anyone else.

Here are my 5 Keys for a $100/month grocery bill:

1) Make a list: I make a list with all of the items I need beforehand.  This prevents impulse shopping or the purchasing of WANTS instead of NEEDS.  Always make a list!

2) Only buy items on sale: If chicken is on sale for $1.99/lb, I buy many pounds of it and place it in separate Ziploc bags in the freezer.  Additionally, I buy fruits and veggies that are on sale.  It might be apples and carrots one week, strawberries and cucumbers the next week.

3) Go generic: I will be the first to agree that some generic products do not taste as good as the original (i.e. Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup), but find out what generics are the same for you.  Whether it is nuts, chips or cereal, find out where you can save that extra dollar.

4) More prep time equals more food: I can buy a box of dry brown rice for the same price I can buy four microwaveable pouches.  The difference is that the box of dry rice yields twice as many servings as the “convenient” pouches.

5) Don’t waste food: This is a big one for me.  Whatever I buy, I eat.  I never let food go bad.   Google a recipe for food close to its expiration date or something that didn’t taste as good as you thought.  Any food that you throw away is harmful to your budget.

These are 5 things I do to keep my grocery bill low every month.  See if you are able to incorporate any of these into your shopping trips.  If you have any additional tips, leave them in the comments section below.

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