Convenient, healthy and delicious: but are meal kit services good value? They can be – it all depends on the way you’re eating right now.
If you’re already planning nutritious meals, buying in bulk, shopping around and making all your meals from scratch, signing up for a My Food Bag-style service may not be such an attractive proposition.
On the other hand, meal kits could be excellent value if you shop randomly, make last-minute meal decisions and often resort to takeaways or Uber Eats.
Meal kits are much healthier and cheaper than takeaways, you don’t have to plan your meals, and you’re not running around the supermarket with two hungry children right before dinner – which almost always results in spending more money.
“Food is the number one problem area for people frittering away their money,” says Hannah McQueen, founder of EnableMe.
“Coffees and lunches, for instance, are a way to get out of the office – and I get it – but you often spend more than you would otherwise. Meal planning and conscious spending is a quick win when it comes to saving – there’s normally a 30% difference between your default, unplanned spending and conscious spending.”
There are also harder-to-measure benefits. Meal kits can be a way to get your kids to try new flavours, or improve the nutritional quality of your meals. It can take some of the everyday hassle out of dietary requirements like eating gluten free, vegetarian or high-protein. They can help you enforce portion control and help you eat seasonal local produce.
The cost for meal kit deliveries ranges from $6.50 to $14.70 per person per dinner, so shop around to compare various services and menus. You’ll pay more for menus that provide higher-priced ingredients, like gluten free or Paleo meals.
Because companies like My Food Bag have bulk buying power, the cost of the ingredients is broadly the same as if you bought identical items yourself at the supermarket.
If you have time to plan your meals and shop strategically, you can definitely feed your family for less than the price of a home-delivered meal kit. But if you’re not sure where your money goes each week, and you’re often making sub-optimal choices at the last minute, meal kits could actually save you money.
“Meal delivery feels more expensive, but it isn’t necessarily,” says McQueen. “The question is will it lower your stress level by having the convenience of a meal kit? If it does, the extra cost tends to cover itself.”