Monday, January 22, 2018

Pros and Cons of Meal Delivery Kits

Just over a month ago, I published a post on meal delivery kits, describing the nature of the service and noting a few points about the market, including some information about legal claims.  In that post, I promised more--specifically, a review of the kits themselves.  That review will come in two parts.  This is the first.  Today, I want to note some of the advantages and disadvantages of using meal kits, from my perspective.

First, the advantages:

  • delivery to your doorstep
  • the convenience of food and recipe in one box
  • little food waste (tailored quantities of food and fixings)
  • exposure to new recipes
  • introduction to new ingredients (most recently for us, spaghetti squash)
  • the chance to learn new cooking techniques
  • recipe cards that
    • lay out sequential steps
    • include helpful pictures and tips
    • have a glossy finish and wipe clean
    • fit in a magazine rack or storage unit

Now, the disadvantages:

  • undue packaging waste? (box, internal containers, cold packs)
  • uneven quality instructions (e.g., herbs divided . . . how--by type or by volume?)
  • expense (depending on what your household would do instead)

I have included below some pictures (click on any for full-size images) of the packaging for Hello Fresh and Plated, the two services we use most often.  

Hello Fresh:

HelloFresh1
HelloFresh1
HelloFresh1
HelloFresh1

Plated:

Plated1
Plated1
Plated1
Plated1

As for the cost, here's what we pay for each:

Hello Fresh (4 people, 3 meals) - $129, including shipping
Plated (3 people, 2 meals) -  + shipping

In a third post, I will say more about the relative merits of the individual services.  My husband orders Blue Apron for us from time to time, and I also will try to get some information from him for my next post.  Feel free to post observations or ask questions in the comments.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/business_law/2018/01/pros-and-cons-of-meal-delivery-kits.html

Food and Drink, Joan Heminway | Permalink

Comments

Thanks for this post Joan. We tried a couple of these services for a short while, but discontinued. Would you say "eating healthy food" is another plus? For us, these services were much less convenient than eating out, and the services were about the same costs as eating out (at a low key restaurant). But, now that I think of it, the food in these services is probably more healthy than most restaurant food; at the very least, you know what is going into your food from these services. I did wish these services provided enough food for leftovers; I think that would help with the financial side.

Posted by: Haskell Murray | Jan 23, 2018 6:25:59 AM

Certainly, it's less work to go out. And you're right that the cost can be similar (at or about $10/meal/person). Of course, what my hubby and I were looking for is more time together at home doing something other than working!

As for healthiness, the meals vary. I will say more about this in my next post. The calorie count is higher than meals I make on my own for our household, but the tastes are more complex. The produce ingredients are quite fresh, although some canned or packaged items are used, too. On balance, I would have to say that the meals are healthier than restaurant food sold at the same price point.

Posted by: joanheminway | Jan 23, 2018 7:57:30 AM

Since your initial posting and independent of your focus of meal kit cost, variety and quality, I’ve inquired with doctor of nutrition about meal kits and pre-prepared meals for my parents who reside in rural Tennessee and where availability of quality produce and variety of protein sources is often limited. My motivation has been that (1) seniors often don’t eat well nutritionally (if they ever did), (2) their appetite declines as they age lessening the motivation to prepare meals and (3) a failure to address both issues plays a substantial role in declining health and quality of life. Thus, looking to pre-packaged nutritionally sound meals removes the need for expertise and effort where preparation is not necessarily driven by appetite.

I believe that the market for meal kits is going to continue to grow both as a convenience and a necessity as traditional “home economics” classes disappear from public education.

The sources I was given for nutritionally sound “prepared” (as distinguished from kits) meals are:

https://silver.bistromd.com/Home
https://www.magickitchen.com/menu/MK-meals-seniors.html
https://personalcheftogo.com
https://www.veestro.com

As the quality of produce and protein sources in urban shopping venues continues to improve (Whole Foods, Sprouts, etc.), doorstep delivery from Amazon, Whole Foods, and curbside delivery at Kroger have grown, the meal kit still has allure.

I’m enjoying your exploration.

Posted by: Tom N | Jan 23, 2018 8:36:14 AM

Thanks for all this great information, Tom N. Our law school yoga group found a service like the ones you describe for our instructor when she was laid up after an accident. She totally appreciated it.

Apropos of your comments regarding local supermarkets (with which I agree), I will note that market chains have also started to compete in the meal kit market. I may have something more to to say about that, too. See, e.g., https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/08/grocery-stores-are-fighting-back-against-meal-kit-companies.html and https://consumerist.com/2017/08/09/grocery-stores-jumping-into-meal-kit-market/.

Posted by: joanheminway | Jan 23, 2018 10:00:45 AM

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