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.
Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.