Should I Try a Meal Kit Service?

Dave Beaulieu May 15th, 2018

Over the past several years, meal kit and meal delivery services have exploded in popularity. Whether you’re in an office or driving around the neighborhood, you’ll increasing see the cardboard boxes from Blue Apron, Platted, or one of the other services.

You’ve probably also gotten emails or seen online ads promoting the services. Describing their virtues and promising home cooked meals well beyond anything you’ve ever seen.

Today, there are millions of people that have subscribed to a meal kit service. Some of the companies are publicly traded and most have celebrities, and world renowned chefs standing behind them.  All that attention, and growth, brings to mind a very important question:

Should I try to a meal kit service?

I’ve been an avid home cook since I was a kid. I love everything about cooking (except for the cleaning), and while I eagerly took to trying this “new way” to shop and eat, I was also a bit worried, that I’d feel “cheated” if I didn’t get to shop and plan. Or maybe a bit constrained if I was “told what to cook”.

What I found was, like just about everything, meal kits are simply another path to get to the same place. Not better or worse, than a more “traditional” path; just different. 

Compare Meal Kits

There are however, three things I think really drive the decision to subscribe or not.

Time Savings

One of the greatest elements of meal kit services is they can save you a ton of time. It takes about 10 minutes to sign up for any of the major services. Once signed up, you’re in a subscription program where (based on your preferences) you’ll automatically get a box a week containing your recipes.

Spend another 5 – 10 minutes a week, and you can change your default recipes and swap them out for other choices.

When the box arrives, add another 10 minutes for unpacking and putting away the ingredients and that’s your shopping & planning time.  For me, that would save a couple hours of time every week – particularly hemming and hawing over what I should cook.  The decisions are made for you.

Food comes in the right quantities and it’s easier to prep than starting from scratch.  If you’re looking to cut some time out of the cooking process, meal kits will help.

Creative/Variety

For many, meal kits may also provide a greater variety of dishes and ingredients than they would otherwise get. It is very easy to fall into a pattern of cooking the same 4 – 5 things over an over again. You may like them. But you may also get very tired of the same thing over and over.

Some services are designed for more adventurous eaters, and by design have more variety, but most people will find just about all them have choices that they are not typically used to. 

You’ve got the ability to change out your weekly recipes, and choose some more exotic fair – without the worry of finding unusual ingredients or not knowing how to cook them. The service has done the work for you.

So, if you’re looking to get out of rut, or looking to be a bit more adventurous I’d suggest giving a service a try.

Health

With over 100 meal kit services in the market, you can find one to fit just about any kind of health niche you’re looking for. There are specific vegan, paleo, and gluten free services that specialize all their meals. They provide the ideas/recipes and the ingredients that fit your needs.

But aside from any specific food need, I tend to find I cook and eat a healthy meal when I’m using a kit.  First, during the meal selection process (for all the major providers) it’s easy to see calorie, fat, carbohydrate amounts and other nutritional facts. It a recipe doesn’t fit what you’re looking for it’s easy to move on. And for me, it if doesn’t enter the house, it’s got a much better chance of not entering my mouth.

The other important aspect I’ve noticed, is the proteins (meat) portions tend to be a bit smaller than I typically get, and the vegetable portions tend to be a bit bigger than I usually get.

At the grocery store, I find it really hard to resist the 16 ounce ribeye in the meat counter. Honestly, I know it’s not anywhere close to good for me to eat that much, but I often buy it anyway. And then I’ll buy a few green beans or a bit of broccoli (maybe with cheese sauce) to go with it.

Many of the meal kits are closer (not all the time) to what a “normal/healthy” portion should be. Again, because the kit is “self-contained” I’ll stick to portions as designed, eat a better mix of food, in better portions.

All that said, I’ve found the kits I’ve tried to deliver fully on flavor and total portion size.  I just really appreciate the assist in cooking what I know is healthier food.

So…should you try one? I find the cost is about the same as the grocery store. The services are easy to sign up for, and easy to quit if you’d like. So, give it a try. Let me know how it goes.

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