Meal Kits: do you use them?

@shrinkrap’s question in the WFD thread made me think about my own experience with Meal Kit services. My cousin once gave us a Blue Apron gift certificate. I thought I’d share and am curious about others’ experiences.

Plus:

  1. No shopping.

  2. They send all the ingredients portioned, measured, prepped and a nice photo of the dish with the recipe & instructions on the back. Simple & easy.

  3. Perfect for busy caregivers (working parents, people taking care of elders, etc.) who want something fast, healthy and not from a restaurant.

  4. Great for people learning to cook.

  5. The food is good.

Cons (me personally):

  1. You don’t want to waste the food, so you cook even when you might be too busy or just don’t feel like it. Kids are grown and out. I cook when I want.

  2. There is a lot of packaging which might disturb eco-conscious people. I find uses for the ice packs and some of the little containers, but on a regular basis I think it’s wasteful.

  3. If you’re already an experienced cook it doesn’t take long to whip something up on your own. If I follow a recipe it’s usually something that peaks my interest, I’m passionate about or want to learn about. BA is great and the dishes are creative, but also remedial.

All-in-all I think Meal Kits are really great if they fit your lifestyle.

Happy Cooking!

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Interesting topic. I’m sooooooo behind on wfd that I might as well just throw in the towel and plan for October…

I’ve done this a couple times and gifted it to my in-laws after surgeries when I thought it would be an easier way to get dinner on the table. I concur with all of your pros cons. I recently was thinking about it again because work has been so insane that I’ve had a very hard time figuring out how to get us all fed.

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I have a relative who “doesn’t cook”. She ordered several Blue Apron packages and had an epiphany about how she could actually Google menu ideas, recipes and instructions, shop for simple ingredients and do it herself. Worked for her!

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Several years ago I was caring for a friend after her foot surgery plus running her storefront business. We eventually signed up for Hello Fresh. I wish we had done it earlier. It gave her some control since she picked out the meals. It freed up my time since I didn’t have to menu plan, discuss menu with her and then shop/prep, etc. Most of what I tried was tasty. Big eaters would need to add a salad, bread, etc.

I would do this again in certain situations. I wish these options existed the three times I was housebound due to health issues.

As a side note, I’ve noticed some grocery stores are getting in on the action. A year or so ago Lowes Food had meal kit boxes based on recipes by Vivian Howard plus autographed cookbooks available. Publix has their Aprons program - everything is in the Aprons cooler ready to bring home along with that days recipe card. But both of those examples require leaving the house.

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Lot of useful insights here. Thank you! I thought about ordering a plan for my daugther , keeping in mind her oven hasn’t worked in her Queen’s NY apartment in the year or so she’s lived there. We did it for her MANY years ago with a sort of a diet selection, and uncooked food built up quickly.

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I tried a couple of times when there were discount introductory prices, because mobility limitations mean I mostly rely on home delivery of groceries. Always way too much packaging that isn’t degradable or recyclable. Portions were fairly stingy and required an extra side dish or salad.

I was limited to Stop&Shop for online shopping for fresh food but now have Misfits Market for most of my produce needs. As an apology for delivery being unavailable during their spring strike, they offered a choice of a S&S meal kit for free. The pork tacos al pastor were excellent but I found the fillings skimpy. A pound of meat was supposed to make 4 three-taco portions. I added more veg, doubling the volume of filling. Not worth the regular $30 price.

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It’s trending here in my food hell. I have no use for it. When I go food shopping I buy what looks good and plan around it. Also, being a perfectionist and control freak I have to select the ingredients myself. Half of the things in the box are probably uninteresting to me so that’s another reason. Some people say they tend to get some same vegs several times and that gets boring after a while.

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I also have no interest in the kits, which in very recent times are being marketed in the UK with quite heavy TV advertising. The advertising is clearly directed at “young, busy people”, so I’m hardly a target audience. By the by, we were sent a “flavourings kit” and three recipes. We cooked one recipe - it wasnt memorable - and threw away the other two., as they didnt appeal as dinner.

The “same veg” issue was actually the reason we stopped getting the weekly organic veg box delivered. Obviously there are some veg that you are always going to use in a week’s cooking but others you do just get bored with.

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Oh yes, another con for us is if I’m cooking, I need to have leftovers minimally for my toddler’s lunch the next day and for me. Extra bonus would be if I send some for my husband too. Even with the larger options, they still fall short on that much food.

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I think @TheCookie got the basics correct. Different people can look at the same facts and come to different conclusions.

Cheaper than eating out but not much when you add in utilities.

We’ve looked at them a couple of times (we’re both busy with 60 hr/wk+ jobs). Cooking what we want as we want it is pretty easy. Meal planning takes 15 minutes/wk and shopping a bit over an hour (we’re close to a number of groceries so are advantaged in that respect). We often cook to “feed the freezer” for when we’re both schedule constrained at the same time. Lots of home canning on the odd weekend we have time.

I can definitely see the attraction for people trying to transition from eating out and take-out to cooking themselves, but other than transitional support I don’t see it.

That’s before all the packaging…

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We tried Hello Fresh for a couple of months earlier this year to supplement our meals when I had surgery. I learned a lot from them, esp adding the juice and zest of a lime to chopped jalapeño which really brought out the flavor of certain food. However, the portions were small, they arrived on days when I had planned my meals, and of course they were no longer as fresh left in the fridge for a while. In addition, it did taught my son how to cook and prepare the food but instructions shows a lot fo pots and pans used which means more washing for me. They have to rethink that part of the cooking.

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That is what I’m hoping for for my daughter. She knows some things, but I don’t think she does it as often as she could. I’ve never even seen her apartment, but I’m thinking it doesn’t make her want to try, especially with no oven.

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I think they would be quite useful for this group. When you are never in the kitchen it becomes hard to think in those terms. The kits I tried were successful at providing quick, easy and tasty. The recipes were on trend and even provide instructions for plating/garnishing.

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Good responses! People are bringing up the one con I left out (didn’t want to be too wordy :wink:). The portions. I wasn’t sure if it was just an us thing. My husband eats a lot and it was sufficient but not wholly satisfying. On the other hand, my cousin who gave me the Blue Apron gift certificate feeds herself, husband and child (7 yrs) without supplementing and finds them more than sufficient. She’s little, her son eats like a super model, but her hubby is a big guy and requires a lot of food, so… :thinking:

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Trust me the one piece of equipment is the counter top oven
It works as toaster, and if she bakes, that will be great , the low temp for proofing and the keep warm temp helps also. The only other equipment I wold not agree to exchange is with is a microwave.

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Yep, I love my kitchenAid counter top convection oven. It does everything an oven (and a toaster) does but on a smaller level. Great for the two of us, also during hot summer months. I actually gave up my microwave and rarely miss it.

This leads to a rant on my part about the loss of home economics (and shop) in most school systems. Why are kids graduating from high school without fundamental skills including basic cooking and the ability to change a tire? Young people are hiring folks to install curtain rods! They can’t make hard-cooked eggs.

I am astounded by the number of kids posting on cooking fora saying “I leave for uni in two weeks and can’t cook.” Jeepers.

Okay, so it’s the current reality and food kits are a way to play catch up. More important is to get life skills back in out schools.

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I don’t disagree, but to be fair, my daughter is almost 30, and it’s been quite a while since she graduated HS. She had plenty of opportunities to learn while home, but since then she has lived in a variety of cities and settings that make it much easier to eat out or take out than when she was home. I think I might do the same if I lived how she lives; working crazy hours, hanging out after work with no family to enter the equation, renting from landlords that don’t repair, carrying groceries on a train or bus, passing 10 take outs/Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s on the way home; what’s not to like?

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I know. I told my boys that learning to cook would save them a lot of money. One of them takes after his dad and has absolutely no interest in cooking (luckily his gal likes to cook). But the other one now calls himself Bobby Flay. :relaxed:

So true. It’s become so easy.

I totally get your daughter’s situation! Does she ever order from Fresh Direct? They have lots of meal kit options
https://www.freshdirect.com/browse.jsp?pageType=browse&id=meals_kits&pageSize=30&all=true&activePage=1&sortBy=Sort_PopularityUp&orderAsc=true&activeTab=product&brandFilterGroup=clearall

And it’s easy to tell which are all stove top and which ones need the oven, probably the same cost as take out here but i think their stir fry kits could help her practice and feel more confident making one herself on the fly.

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