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Due to the recent pandemic, many of you may be debating whether meal delivery services would be something you would like to try for your family. You’ve seen them on TV – HelloFresh, Dinnerly, EveryPlate, etc. Recently, my husband I have been trying out various ones just see how they stack up. So, if you’re still trying to decide, please read my 5 pros and cons of meal delivery services below. I hope that by sharing some of the highs and lows we’ve encountered, you’ll be a better educated consumer and make wiser choices when it comes to these plans.
1. They do the shopping for you
In this day and age, when we’re all social distancing and staying home more, it would be nice to not have to worry with the hassle of buying groceries so often. In addition, the spread of the COVID-19 virus has shut down or hindered production in many meat processing plants which has made finding high quality meats in your local supermarket more difficult. For these two reasons, meal delivery services have become invaluable to many folks. Once you place your orders for your meals, someone else gets to worry about getting food to you. That’s one less headache you have to deal with.
2. Delivery as scheduled
Once you place your order and set your delivery date, you can pretty much expect your box to deliver on that date. And if for some reason it can’t, which does happen from time to time, most companies are great about communicating with you about why your delivery is late and when you can expect it to arrive. They are very good at updating the tracking information and keeping you in the loop.
3. Most meals are balanced
Of the meals we have tried from several different services, most come with a protein, a carbohydrate, and a vegetable. This is good if you’re trying to feed your family balanced meals. Experts say that you should make your plate colorful, and with meal delivery services you’ll do just that. Fresh produce (carrots, peas, green beans, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, zucchini, etc.) are offered throughout their assortment of dishes. We have also been impressed with the portion sizes, as most have been just right in this aspect with very few leftovers.
4. Step-by-step cooking instructions
We love the fact that we get to prepare and try dishes that we wouldn’t normally eat. And for this, we are very grateful for the step-by-step cooking instructions that are provided for each meal. Some services include them with the meal kits, while others require you to download them from their website. Trying to make some of these dishes without a recipe would be extremely difficult for us and we would only end up insulting our taste buds (and our stomachs).
5. Lots of variety
When choosing your meals each week, you get to choose from a wide variety of dishes (which are rotated regularly). There’s bound to be something that will appeal to even the pickiest of eaters. One thing that we like about meal delivery services is that you get to try many different flavors and tastes from all over the world.
1. Lots of butter and salt
After several weeks of preparing dishes from various meal services, my husband and I began to take notice of the amount of butter that the recipes were calling for – it was a lot! Then we went on their company websites and looked up nutrition information and we were shocked! The majority of the meals we researched were high in calories and even higher in sodium. So much so that we have begun modifying all of our meals now to make them way more healthier. A good example of this is when a meal calls for soy sauce. Instead of using what comes in the meal kits which is chock-full of sodium, we replace it with our homemade version made with molasses.
2. Short on cook time, long on prep time
This con gets many newcomers and was definitely a shock to us. There are some meal services that advertise that their meals take 30 minutes or less to cook. Yes, to cook, but that doesn’t include prep time. There was one service we tried (and no longer use) that nearly every meal we cooked took from 30 to 45 minutes just for the prep alone! After a long day, when all you want to do is get a good, hot meal on the table for your family, you don’t want to spend an hour or more in the kitchen prepping and cooking. My advice is to look into the total cook times of each meal before ordering. Note – this information may or may not be given out on the services’ website.
3. Not very economical
Here’s the bottom line – meal delivery kits are pricey. My husband and I do them because there are just the two of us and we don’t eat a lot. However, if you have a large family, these may not be your best option for dinner. They are nice for a Friday or Saturday night treat once in a while, but as something you would like to do regularly, you may be better off with your regular grocery shopping.
4. “Fresh” doesn’t always mean fresh
Some of the “fresh” vegetables we’ve received in our kits were needing life support when they arrived. Also, we’ve noticed that they don’t last very long in the refrigerator. We believe (though we can’t prove it) this is because, in order to keep prices low, when the meal delivery services purchase them from their vendors, they are very close to end of life to begin with. Because of this, we try to cook our meals according to how the vegetables look (seriously). However, there have been several times that we have had to prep and freeze vegetables because we knew they wouldn’t make it until we were able to cook the meal they were to go with.
5. Is it supposed to taste like that?
Many of the meals we have tried from various meal delivery services have been fantastic. However, there have been some that, even after following the recipe card to the letter, we were left asking, “Is it supposed to taste like that?” You will find that you have your favorite meals and ones you will come back to over and over again. However, if you’re not an adventurous person when it comes to your taste buds, then be prepared to be disappointed now and then.
So, those were my 5 pros and cons of meal delivery services based on what my husband and I have experienced. Don’t get me wrong, we love getting our box each week and enjoy cooking together, and we plan on continuing our subscription as long as we can. But if you are new to this, my suggestion would be to 1) educate yourself, and 2) try several different services to find the one that best suits your tastes and needs. For a nice list of meal delivery services to try, read Epicurious’s article 23 Best Meal Delivery Services and Kits of 2020.
If you use meal delivery services, I would love to hear about your successes and failures. Please share them in the comments below.