Meals Through the Mail? Pros and Cons of Dinner Delivery Services
Getting supper on the table used to mean two options: You could decide what you want to cook, make a shopping list, go to the store, come home and cook…or you could pick up the phone and order a pizza.
But now there’s a third option: With meal delivery subscriptions (like Blue Apron and HelloFresh), you get a box full of everything you need to prepare dinner (ingredients and recipes) shipped right to your door. You still cook, but you don’t have to do the legwork of planning out what you’re going to make and shopping for all of the ingredients.
That said, meal delivery services do have some drawbacks. Here’s what to consider before you sign up:
What You’re Going to Love:
- The food tends to be nutritious: Most meals are pretty healthy—they are built around fresh produce and lean proteins. Plus, they are designed to make a specific number of servings, which can help you with portion control. Just keep an eye on the calories: Depending on what you order, the meals can run up to 800 calories per serving.
- Most items are sourced locally: Many services pride themselves on using ingredients that are local to where you live. Sometimes they’ll even mark where items came from on your delivery form or the food itself.
- Unique dishes take you out of your comfort zone: If you’ve been curious about exotic-sounding foods like butter chicken or chimichurri sauce, meal delivery services might be just what you need. The recipes are more unique than just tacos or hamburgers and, since they are all tested many times, you don’t have to worry about the dish being a dud.
- The recipes amp up your cooking skills and horizons: Never poached a chicken before? You’ll get step-by-step instructions on exactly how to do it. Concerned about not knowing when roasted veggies are done? A photo guide in the kit can clue you in. Soon you’ll be feeling more and more confident in your culinary know-how.
What You May Not Like:
- Costs are a factor: Although often less than eating dinner out at a restaurant, these services are usually more expensive than if you swung by the supermarket yourself. Prices vary, but you might find yourself paying $20 per meal for two servings and $35 per meal if you want to feed a family of four.
- Packaging isn’t green: The overabundance of cardboard and plastic wrapping used to box up the food means they aren’t the best for the environment. However, many services have launched returns and recycling programs that allow your shipping materials to be reused.
- The meals require some TLC: These aren’t dishes you’re going to throw in the microwave—they require some time and work to prepare. You’ll be roasting, searing, and dicing, so if you don’t want to handle the prep work, a meal delivery service may not be for you.
- Picky eaters, beware: Keep in mind that many ingredients can be on the daring side. Finicky children or adults may not be as willing to try some of the unique-sounding dishes (although they could be the perfect way to introduce your kids to different flavors).
Have you tried a meal delivery service? Let us know what you thought about it in the comments below!
Photo credit: Basheer Tome