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5 Ways Meal Delivery Services Can Actually Save You Money

Meal kit delivery services, such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, seem to be all the rage right now — and, in my opinion, for good reasons. Here are my top five advantages in choosing a freshly-prepared meal-in-a-box service just for you — or the entire family.

1. Reduced Grocery Bill

With my meal delivery service, I pay $69 for three dinners that each feed two people. That’s $11.50 per meal per person. That may sound pricey, but I can’t seem to spend less than that on, say, a steak, a starch, and a fresh veggie at the grocery store.

I get my food box delivered twice a month, so I spend a total of $138 on six dinners. I rarely make a simple trip to the grocery store and buy groceries for cheaper. In 2015, the average U.S. household spent an average of $144 per week on groceries. With some meal delivery plans, the price drops per meal if you buy more than three dinners a week, and feed more than two people.

To me, the convenience of having a box of food (complete with the recipes for cooking it) dropped off on the doorstep, paired with the fact that I don’t have to meal plan or leave the house to shop, is worth every penny spent. I even save a few bucks on gas because, I’m not driving to and from the grocery store.

2. The Right Quantity of Food

When you first open a box of food, you wonder how such a little box could possibly feed two people. But it works, every time. All ingredients are pre-measured to perfection. At first glance, you think it’s not going to be enough food. Panic and skepticism set it. However, it’s plenty. How can this one lemon, shallot, chicken breast, herbs, couscous, and zucchini be enough? This brought me to the realization that I tend to “over shop” for ingredients at the store, and that perhaps my eyes are bigger than my stomach.

For those health-conscious, calorie-counter types, knowing exactly what is going into your body is important. I know I personally tend to overeat unless things are measured out. If you’re one of those people tracking your dietary intake and weight using personalized healthcare technology, portion control is everything.

3. Satisfying & Delicious

The ingredients that come in the box tend to be higher-quality than those found in average grocery stores, and it shows in the finished product. You know you’re in for a treat when your home-cooked meal looks and tastes just as good (if not better!) than something you’d find at a gourmet restaurant or swanky country club. The difference in making it yourself versus simply having it made for you is truly remarkable, and worth the little bit of extra effort.

Simple, yet creative, recipes with a good combination of fresh and flavorful ingredients make all the difference. The fact that you prepared it yourself is the cherry on top.

4. Time Savings

I don’t know about you, but I hate going to the grocery store. It’s last on my list of chores, and I pretty much do anything to avoid it. I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes, though. So, slogging through the aisles while pushing a cart and loading it with supplies is pretty much a must, except during the weeks the deliveries arrive. Americans spend an average of 40 minutes per shopping trip at the grocery store, and that’s not counting travel time to and from home.

The elation that comes from seeing the big food box on the porch means one less trip to the store for a few days, and less hassle overall.

5. It’s Fun

Food should be fun. Every meal can’t be perfectly planned and executed, but having a recipe card with fresh and measured ingredients certainly takes the pressure off. It’s nice to try things you wouldn’t normally think to make for yourself or loved ones. Cooking together with your family also contributes to the general health and happiness of your family members. Studies have shown that cooking at home helps kids eat better, and can even help improve their grades in school.

If opening the box to see what you’re going to make for dinner over the next three days brings a bit of happiness and peace of mind, it’s totally worth it. You may even feel a little fancy.

Melissa Davidson is a writer and social media marketer with a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Montana. She’s a former newspaper reporter who now spends her time and energy writing about health, wellness and social issues. When she’s not hovering over a keyboard, Melissa and her canine companion, Romeo, can be found riding and running throughout the Rocky Mountain West.

Image via Unsplash

  • LynnP2

    I think meal delivery services are a good option for people who want to curb their eating out, but it’s always perplexing to me when people say it’s cheaper than grocery shopping. $69/week sounds reasonable at first glance, but if all your dinners cost $11.50/serving, you’re talking $161 for two people, and that’s JUST dinners with no leftovers. $144 doesn’t sound so bad if it includes breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. Also, all those little packages (at least with Blue Apron, which I tried) seemed like a lot of unnecessary waste.

  • marg647

    If it works for you that’s awesome and you definitely can’t discount the value of convenience for some people but I would argue the costing less point is not accurate if you are shopping properly (which you’ve said you tend to overpurchase). I live in Toronto (major city in Canada)–lots of grocery options and meal delivery options so its possible to spend a lot or be really frugal. I spend $50/week on groceries for one person. $138 for less than one week of dinners each month (or $60 for six dinners for one person) is crazy to me when I spend less and get protein smoothies (chocolate almond milk, protein powder, banana and peanut butter) every morning for breakfast, cook dinner seven nights and pack the leftovers for lunch the next day and also get morning and evening snacks. And then how much do you spend the other three weeks worth of days out of the month where you don’t get the dinners? I also plan my groceries around cooking those seven dinners and make sure that ingredients I buy can go in two meals wherever possible.

    • I totally agree. I spend $30-50 a week on groceries so I just can never wrap my head around how these services make sense financially. But I also cook nearly everything from scratch. I suppose it’s a good deal if you’re buying a lot of pricier pre-prepared foods as part of your weekly grocery shopping anyways, but for me, these meal services are never ever cheaper than grocery shopping. More convenient? Heck yes! But definitely not cheaper. Also, my roommate orders them from time to time as she works a gazillion hours a week, and I always cringe at the amount of packaging involved.

  • Mj D’Arco

    I wonder if this is a made for affiliates only post… I guess these plans work for some people, but they are not a cheap option for everyone (a lb of a steak at wholefoods being 16$ that’s 5$ for the meat per serving at one of the most expensive stores, add a few veggies and it’s still cheaper than 11$).. also when you include how much the average house hold spends on groceries, id note that it might include a family of 4, so not a fair comparison… plus the environment impact from all the waste is outrageous…

  • alyjarrett

    My boyfriend and I use Blue Apron, and while I agree with the commenters that it is a more expensive and environmentally wasteful option than grocery shopping, to me the pros are worth it: I’m no longer wasting food and it’s a huge time-saver. However, meal delivery services make more sense in Silicon Valley, since my company caters lunch every day and provides free snacks, drinks and breakfast foods. Dinner is the only meal I have to pay for myself, which makes Blue Apron much more affordable.

    • Anni

      I think this should’ve been the point of the article – that meal delivery is the more affordable option if you only have to eat a few meals because other meals are provided, or if the 20mins – 1 hour you would take everynight making dinner and leftovers could be better optimized for working, spending time with your SO or family, exercising etc that would be more beneficial to your personal life. I love cooking, but I hate cleaning and cleaning gives me so much anxiety. If I was ever at the place where I was more financially able, I would 100% hire a monthly or bi-weekly cleaner so I have no judgement on people who are able to, and who choose to make their lives more convenient in other ways.

      I don’t think false equivalencies such as, 6 meals at $138 (for two people) is cheaper than $144 a week (avg. US household is about 2.5 people, avg of 21 meals a week) is helping her case.

      • Clytamnestra Dunge

        right with you on the cleaning: i am getting a maid as soon as it’s financially feasible

  • Maz

    “With my meal delivery service, I pay $69 for three dinners that each feed two people. That’s $11.50 per meal per person. That may sound pricey, but I can’t seem to spend less than that on, say, a steak, a starch, and a fresh veggie at the grocery store.”

    Most people go to the grocery store to get food for all their meals, not just dinner? Do you only have to pay for dinner?

  • Sara

    Yeah, I think this could have been an article about why meal delivery services are worth the cost, rather than how they can save you money. I really don’t see how spending $11.50 per dinner is cost effective at all – you can get a meal at any fast casual, healthy place (Sweetgreen, Chopt, Cava, etc.) for that much or less and they make it for you.

    • Ronja Brown

      Exactly! $11.50 for dinner made at home? I might as well order in.

  • elle

    Yes! I get 5 vegan soups (2 servings each) sent to me weekly. There is NO WAY I could buy all the vegs, beans, and quality spices included for what I pay for this. Also, I really resent time it takes to cook and clean up after meals, and I’m just not a good cook. Domestic chores are like a second job (that I don’t get paid for!) It is absolutely worth it to me. I still buy fruits and breakfast items, and I supplement the soups with bread or salad or other sides. still, under $100 a week for everything.

    • Clytamnestra Dunge

      i see you brought your sockpuppets to give us even more slapstick. thanks.
      who would ever buy mealboxes when they hate to cook and clean?? maybe try canned soup and bring you grocery bill down to $20 a week.

  • Elizabeth H

    I feel like I’m the only person who LOVES grocery shopping. The fact that it would deprive me of the fun of grocery shopping is for real the #1 reason I haven’t been tempted to try any of these even though someone gave me a free week of Blue Apron.

    • TJ

      Meal planning being a chore was news to me. I kind of love going through my internet bookmarks and cookbooks for what to make that week

    • Clytamnestra Dunge

      i just don’t see the point of cooking meals that someone else thought up: just skip that last step and order out.
      (the only way i might possibly consider it is if these boxes would actually live up to their money-saving promises, but i can easily make a 4-person meal with soup and dessert for $11)

  • Samantha D

    I just ordered a meal delivery service that brings packaged healthy meals. I could never say that it saves me money, but I think it’s an example of putting your money toward things that have the biggest impact on your life. I struggle with eating out, having no time, and not really enjoying cooking and preparing foods. This is a great convenient solution which will hopefully help me eat more produce and automate something that used to be stressful.

  • Aileen

    I got one of the”try it free” Blue Apron boxes and was so irate at how much it would have cost for what was in the box I refused to make the meal. You can do all sorts of comparing average cost of groceries for a US family vs. cost of delivered meals, but I found that the products actually included in my box were such cheap items that if I recreated the same meal myself it would have been about a third of the cost. I got veggies like summer squash and zucchini (super cheap) a tiny chicken breast (cheapest type of meat) some freakin pasta and an assortment of spices. That $23 dollar meal would have cost me less than $10 in the store. (Also, even in this article she’s comparing cost of three dinners for two people to the cost of all meals for the whole week for a family, which I see a lot.) If you want to pay extra for convenience but still know what’s in your food, then go ahead and use meal prep delivery services. But they are not a cheaper option by any stretch of the imagination, and are really only accessible to people who have disposable income.

    • Clytamnestra Dunge

      the 2 biggest complainst i have heard about those companies are:
      -they will stalk you forever if you dare cancel your subscription
      -despite the high costs the boxes contain a lot of cheap ingredients (like onions and such)

  • Heather

    I got a try-it-free Blue Apron box and while the lazy person in me that doesn’t much care for meal prep absolutely loved having all the ingredients pre-portioned and delivered to my door, it is extremely expensive and I wouldn’t do it again. My husband and I spend maybe $40 a week at the grocery store for all of our meals and we eat well and healthily on that budget so it’s a little nuts for us to spend MORE than that for only three dinners (with no leftovers!). That being said, if you can afford it, it’s a great service, especially for beginner cooks; it’s just not financially practical for us. I do recommend trying it once (there are a zillion coupon codes) for great meal ideas and the step by step picture recipe cards and then re-creating them on your own. I got a second box as a wedding gift and the six recipe cards have been repeatedly reused in my kitchen!

  • GemNoelle

    I love Blue Apron and HelloFresh as the occasional splurge but they are defiantly not money savers. I topically spend about $100 a week of groceries for my boyfriend and I including most meals and snacks for the week. When I get Blue Apron I typically only save about $20-30 off my weekly grocery costs. I view Blue Apron/HelloFresh as a cheaper alternative to a nice sit down meal out.

  • Clytamnestra Dunge

    thanks for the laugh.
    for reference: the trick to good ‘sponsored content’ is to make your main selling point vaguely believable and to address actual criticisms