Obviously, it depends on who you ask. It also depends on which meal delivery service you sign up for, too. And which grocery store, which ingredients, and so on and so forth.
But that doesn’t mean that we can’t come up with a general, overarching answer to this burning question. So here we go.
#1 – It depends on the meal kit service
A quick sampling of the most popular meal kit services – Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Home Chef, among others – gives a bit of a range when it comes to cost per meal. There are more premium options that may have ingredients from more exotic locales, and some kits that simply use higher quality inclusions.
Generally speaking, however, you aren’t going to find meals from a service for much less than about $20 per meal.
#2 – Easy versatility or flexibility?
One of the key positives when it comes to meal kit delivery services is the versatility that they offer. You’ll often receive a few completely different recipes, potentially from a variety of regions or genres of cuisine. It’s a turnkey way to expand your horizons without any long-term commitment when it comes to purchasing large amounts of ingredients you won’t use more than a time or two.
On the other hand, there’s no flexibility with meal kits; you get what you get and there won’t be any extra when it comes to your individual ingredients. When you go to the grocery store, you can choose how much of each ingredient to purchase. You can also shift gears if your tastes change, whereas a meal kit delivery locks you into whatever it is that you ordered.
#3 – Leftovers and waste
Keep in mind that you won’t have any leftovers with your meal delivery service. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on your habits.
There’s a high chance of having leftovers if you’re cooking for yourself, which is awesome if you have a big family and/or pack up your leftovers for lunch over the next couple of days. But if you’re the one who often has Tupperware full of old food sitting in your fridge, well … perhaps a meal delivery service is the way to go.
Food waste is an issue in the United States, and if it’s something that you struggle with then perhaps it would be a good idea to shift gears and find a better way to go about your meal planning.
This whole debate is entirely dependent on your own eating habits and your ability and willingness to put together meal plans.
In the grand scheme of things, the cost per meal is going to be similar once food waste and leftovers are factored into the equation. You’ll need to decide based on your own tastes, rhythms, and expectations. If you want to have control and flexibility, then stick with the good old-fashioned supermarket. If you want convenience, variety, and perfectly-sized portions, roll with a meal delivery service.
But either way, as long as you’re being smart with your decisions, you’ll end up spending a similar amount of money.