We humans just keep squeezing more and more things into our day. Between appointments and our 9-5 job, kid’s sporting events and our workout routine, it’s amazing we find the time to cook at all, let alone start the coffee grinder for our morning coffee. For some of us, making an extravagant meal from scratch is absolutely out of the question, just like making a homemade floral arrangement is, or creating a masterpiece painting.
Enter: meal kits. Meal kit delivery services like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron have taken places like the United States by storm. Why? Because all the effort of planning, purchasing and looking for the recipe is taken away, but you still get to cook a delicious meal for yourself and/or your family.
Meal kits have been available for quite some time now, which means there are enough options and enough reviews out there to have an idea of how well they work. Now that the initial craze is over, we’ve taken some time to look over the main meal kits out there and really dig into the pros and cons of them, then compiled it into this great list for you. Let’s get going.
Ironically, this one has been a pro and a con since cooking kits started. At first glance, it can easily seem like the excessive packaging of individual foods and the boxes upon boxes that it comes in couldn’t possibly be good for the environment. But, with food waste ranking as one of the worst things for the environment, meal kits aren’t quite as unsustainable as we once thought.
As we just discussed, the excessive packaging definitely makes this a con for meal kits. However, if you think about all the packaging that comes with food from the supermarket, it’s not drastically different. This is also dependent on what kind of shopping you do and how much takeaway you get. Takeaway is notoriously bad for packaging, especially in places like the US where Styrofoam is used regularly still. Regardless of what you use, excessive packaging is a problem that we need to address.
Pro: Creative meals
If you struggle with coming up with something to eat each week besides spaghetti bolognaise or eggs on toast, we feel you. Being creative and branching out with recipes that you see at event venues and 5-star restaurants takes work, along with a bit of courage. Meal kits mean the work of searching for a recipe is removed, however, which means you can focus on creating the masterpiece instead! There’s plenty of recipes that you’ve probably never even thought of cooking, so this is a great way to expand your palate, risk free.
Con: Not getting creative yourself
If all the work is done for you, how will you ever learn how to be creative? Be brave, young cook, and try a new recipe all on your own and see how it goes.
Pro: Portion control
For those of us who struggle with portion sizes, meal kits are a perfect way to ensure you’re getting the right sized portion without overeating.
Con: No leftovers
If you like to try and cook large batches of food to have leftovers for lunches or dinners later in the week, or perhaps enjoy making a big batch of soup to freeze, meal kits are not great options for you. They will be a single meal, or if you purchase a larger kit, might get you by for two meals, but they are not built for cooking in bulk or in batches.
Pro: Maximising downtime
You know how delivery services like Amazon, or even same day flower delivery has made our lives so much easier? Almost to the point where we get frustrated when we have to wait two whole days for custom flowers or can’t get same-day Amazon shipping? Yes, it is a bit ridiculous. Anyway, all of that ease means that we don’t have to run to two or three different stores looking for a product, which gives us more time to sit at home staring at our screens. (we’re only half kidding about that).
Meal kit delivery services take out the time it takes for planning a meal, the time it takes to shop for it, and even the time it takes to prep some ingredients, as some meal kits will come with pre-marinated meat or prepped ingredients.
Possibly the biggest con to meal kits is the price point. This can be mitigated partially by choosing different sizes (i.e. family size versus 1-2 people), frequency of deliveries (2-3 times per week, 1 time per month), and type of meal kit (organic, vegan options or a more straightforward option). If you do the math, you can certainly buy more food for the price that you’re paying, but it’s only worth it if you’ll actually use all the groceries you purchased and don’t let any of it go to waste. If you’re quite notorious with throwing out food or not eating your leftovers, the price for a meal kit can be worth it.
If you want it to, a meal kit can be a great way to socialise! If you live with flatmates, consider purchasing a once a week or once a month family size option for you and your flatmates to cook together. If you have a family with kids, this can also be a great way to spend time together preparing a meal. There are even sociable meal kits available in places like Poland that help isolated elderly women interact with their community.
As you can see, meal kits can be great or not so great for just about everyone. It’s really up to you and your cooking habits to determine if this is the right option for you. Have a think about what kind of cook you are and what your food habits are, as well as what you’d like them to be. If the pros outweigh the cons for you in this scenario, give it a shot! At the very least, it can be a fun trial period of trying out a new dish or two.