As most of you know, for the past month, we’ve been trying out the many “meal-in-a-box” type delivery kits. Having tried five of the leaders in this increasingly congested field, here are my takeaways.
- If you can, you’re still better off just shopping and cooking for yourself.
Looking at these kits from a pure economic perspective, none of the meal delivery kits really make sense. Re-assembling the same or similar meals from the grocery store can be anywhere from 20% – 70% cheaper, depending on what kit you’re using and what go-tos you already have stored in your pantry. And I shudder to think of the environmental cost of all the added packaging and shipment needed here.
But note that I said “if you can.” If you have a disability that prevents you from making it to the supermarket very often, if you’ve just never learned how to cook on your own, or if you have a schedule that doesn’t allow for thoughtful meal planning and prepping, then these kits may still be right for you. In particular, for us, I think I might start ordering these for the week after we return from travel, where I know I’m not going to have time or energy to go to the grocery store. These kits *are* great for situations like that.
- Plated and Green Chef are my top recommendations.
So, if you decide that a kit is right for you, which one should you go with? For us, hands down, Plated was the winner. Delicious meals, good selection, top-quality ingredients, and easy-to-follow recipes made Plated the real deal. In fact, I actually forgot to cancel my Plated subscription after the free box, and so got another shipment the following week. And we were just as happy even when paying for it out of pocket; Plated is the head and shoulders winner of the meal delivery game for the *average* diner.
That being said, I think Green Chef deserves a runner-up consideration for the variety they offer. We felt Green Chef was among the middle-of-the-pack taste wise, but they are the only kit to offer lots of different options for lots of different diners. With vegetarian, vegan, paleo, and gluten free options available, Green Chef is the best option for those with some sort of dietary restriction.
- Be careful about your subscription & cancellation dates.
If you *are* going to try one of these services, though, make really sure that you know the terms of WHEN you have to cancel or “skip” the next week’s delivery. Several of these kits require you to cancel BEFORE YOU EVEN RECEIVE your first delivery, and certainly before you’ve gotten to try all the meals in your first box. It’s pretty shady, honestly.
So treat these the way you did Columbia House cd services (you know – the buy one, get 12 cds free promotion that 90s kids like myself so loved…) and just assume that the companies are out to trick you. If you do that and take appropriate precautions against being charged when you don’t actually want a shipment, then adding a meal delivery kit here or there can be a great change of pace to your regular cooking and dining schedule.
Want to read the individual reviews again?
I hope I’ve answered all your questions about meal delivery services in this series, but feel free to ask any followup questions in the comments. Starting in 2017, be on the lookout for our “Resolution Series” of quick, healthy meals to kick off the New Year.