This post is part of my series about the ever popular Meal Delivery Services. Before I start talking about all of these services, I just want to make it clear that I am not being compensated in any way for this (or other related) posts, and these companies have no idea who I am. Since these services seem to be super popular right now, I just wanted to share my experiences with you all, and maybe someone who is deciding whether or not to try one of these services will find them helpful. I will, however, use my affiliate links and/or coupon codes for the various services when I can. Not only do I get a few dollars back if you use those links to make a purchase, but YOU also get some kind of discount as well!
It has been a few months now that we have been getting weekly meal deliveries from various services. (Hello Fresh, Plated, and Blue Apron are the three that we have tried.) We have tried each company at least twice, so I figure I have a pretty good base to write some reviews. Before I write specific reviews about each company though, I thought I would write some general reviews about the whole meal box delivery service concept as a whole.
Pro: All of the ingredients (for the most part) that you need for to make the meal comes in the box, so you don’t have to go to the grocery store! One of the biggest reasons that we started trying out these box meals is because finding time to go to the grocery store to get ingredients for a recipe (especially with the new baby) was pretty low on the priority list. It wasn’t something that either of us were looking forward to doing, and with so many baby related things going on (along with normal, daily house cleaning, and things that needed to be done) these boxes seemed like a way to cut down our every growing to-do list.
Con: There are some things that you have to provide – salt, pepper, oil, and in some cases butter and eggs, are not included in the boxes. Those are things that I would usually have already at home, so that is not a huge deal. However, in four different instances throughout these past few months, with two different companies, we were missing ingredients needed to make the recipes. In all of the cases, the companies were very responsive and apologetic, but it was still super frustrating. Thinking that you are all ready to go with a recipe and then you realize that you have to go grocery store and pick up that one random ingredient that was forgotten. It basically defeats the purpose of getting the box in the first place. Though some of these companies have been around for a few years, I know that they are more popular than ever right now so I’m hoping these mistakes are a temporary effect of the popularity and the companies being more busy, so I’m hoping that the companies will get a better handle on things, and realize that getting ALL of the ingredients in the box really is key to their success and needs to be a priority.
Pro: If the alternative to you making a meal at home is going out to eat, then the price of these won’t be much of a change from your normal meal budget. The prices vary but most are from $9.99 and $12.99 per plate, which is about what you would pay for a quick weeknight dinner out. The definite plus to these though, compared to eating out, is that they are generally more healthy than many things that are options for takeout or restaurant food.
Con: If you are the budgeting type, the cost per dish might be a little hard to get through. It definitely is not cheap, but you have to remember that you are paying for top quality ingredients (most, if not all, are organic when they can be) and convenience. But if you are the type of person that shops the deals, and makes the best meal that you can find for a certain amount of money, these boxes probably aren’t for you. They are a bit of a splurge on the everyday budget.
Pro: Each recipe lists how much time is needed to prepare and cook the meal. Everything is pre measured, so you just follow the instructions and dump in the ingredients rather than having to take the time to measure out a cup of this, 2 tablespoons of that, etc.
Con: I don’t know that we have ever made a dish in the amount of time that it says it takes on the recipe. Maybe they are geared towards more efficient or experienced people, but even when we are both preparing the food together, it pretty much never takes less than an hour from start to finish.
Pro: One of the other big reasons why we started trying out different meal delivery options is that we were stuck in a bit of a food rut. Each service varies, but there are usually a few different options that you can choose from for each delivery. You can choose from different meat eater, or non-meat eater options, but no matter what you choose you aren’t going to see basic meals like spaghetti and meatballs, or a hamburger. Everything has a bit of a seasonal or unique twist. So, since we were looking for new variety of foods to add to the rotation, each week there was something unique and different than we would normally eat to choose from.
Con: For a picky eater like myself, it was often hard to find something that I 100% knew I would want to eat. Yes, the theme of this blog is about me trying new things in an attempt to be not as picky, but when you are spending that much money on something it is hard to justify trying something new. Luckily, the husband is much less picky than I am, so even if I didn’t love something, it wasn’t completely wasted. I think there have only been a couple of meals that I have 100% liked everything – often there is some small thing we leave out (like peppers or onions) or some kind of sauce or topping that doesn’t get added because neither of us like it.
Pro: The waste of food is minimum. They send you exactly what you need – 2 teaspoons of cumin, or 3 cloves of garlic, or 2 ounces of panko bread crumbs. Since you are sent exactly what you need, you aren’t stuck with the rest of a container of a certain spice, or a certain food, to use up before it goes bad.
Con: One of the downsides to this is that if you bought a spice, or a bunch of veggies or other food, in bulk it would likely be less expensive than having it already portioned out like this. Also, even though this makes for less food waste, there is likely more paper waste since everything is packaged individually. For us though, I think I lot would get wasted if we bought whole packages of some of the things instead of being sent the pre-portioned version.
As you can see, there are definite pros and definite cons to these boxes. I feel like it also depends a lot on your lifestyle and situation. They definitely are not ideal for everyone, but if you are in a food rut looking to switch things up, and aren’t on a super strict food budget, I think they are worth giving a try!