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Meal Kits Offer a Convenient Way to Cook Fresh at Home

by Samantha Kennedy, UF/IFAS Extension Wakulla County

As a single person, I often find it challenging to cook fresh and interesting meals for myself. Sometimes I work long days, and after my nearly hour-long commute home, the last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time cooking.

As a result, I often fall into the habit of eating the same few things over and over again because they are quick and easy to make.  Let me just say, it gets boring fast.

I kept hearing about all these meal kit delivery services, but was reluctant to try one. Fresh food mailed to my house in a cardboard box? I was skeptical.

Meal Kit

An example of a meal kit
Photo by Sam Kennedy

Recently, however, I decided to take the plunge. A friend had given me a discount code to try it at a reduced price. Since there is not contract or obligation to continue, the worst thing that could happen was I was out a few bucks if not satisfied.

I have been using the service for almost two months now and am enjoying it very much. I find myself looking forward to receiving my box and opening it up to see the goodies inside.  I have yet to make a recipe I did not like.

Advantages

There are several advantages to a meal kit delivery service. Most of the ingredients for each meal are included in the box, except for staples such as butter, milk, and oil.

There is no measuring involved and each meal is designed to make preparation quick and simple. Most recipes take 20-35 minutes from prep to plate.

The meat and produce are high quality. I only had issues with one ingredient and it was easy to get the problem resolved by contacting the company’s customer service department.

There are a variety of meal plans to choose from depending on family size and dietary preferences. The smallest meal plan is for two people, so I am able to stretch each recipe over two days. The portion sizes are generous as well and I enjoy trying recipes I never would have chosen on my own.

My meal kit service comes with a free mobile app, which makes it easy to select meals, switch plans, rate recipes, contact customer service, or even skip delivery during certain weeks. Since I am often out of town for work, this flexibility in delivery is a major advantage.

Drawbacks

There are a few drawbacks, however. The biggest one is packaging. As in, there is a lot of it.

There is the box it all comes in. Then there are the individual bags for each meal, and there is the packaging for all of the pre-measured ingredients.  Not to mention the insulation and ice packs to keep it all cool on my doorstep while I am at work. Everything but the insulation is recyclable, though, which is a plus.

Another drawback is not being able to substitute for ingredients which may cause allergies. However, each recipe clearly points out any ingredients containing common allergens such as milk, soy, and tree nuts.  This makes it easier to choose the meals that work best for me each week.

The price of each kit stays the same each week unless I choose a premium meal.  The average cost of each plate of food is $10. This at first seemed like a lot of money. After all, I can buy my own groceries and make my own recipes for less per plate.

Yes, I probably could. But I actually did the math and found I saved money using a meal kit service.  I made fewer trips to the grocery store, which resulted in fewer impulse purchases.  I also ate out less since I knew I had an easy and delicious recipe waiting for me at home. In one month of using the service, I saved nearly $200 on food purchases.

Conclusions

Home delivery meal kits are not for everyone. The price per kit certainly increases with family size. Also, it may be difficult to get finicky eaters to try something new.

However, I have found the service to be very beneficial. Not only has it ultimately saved me money, but I am excited about cooking again.

For more information about meal kit delivery services or other cooking questions, please call Samantha Kennedy at UF/IFAS Extension Wakulla County at (850) 926-3931.

For more information on Wakulla County Extension Services please visit http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/wakulla/

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