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Mom and daughter preparing a meal

It seems impossible to watch TV without seeing an ad for an all-inclusive meal kit delivery service. You know the ones with names like Hello Fresh, Blue Apron and Plated. You’ve probably wondered if these services are a good deal or a wasteful extravagance. The truth is, whether a meal delivery service is a smart way to spend your food budget really depends on your own lifestyle, eating habits and savings goals. Here are some pros and cons of these services to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you:

PROS

You’ll Eat at Home More

One of the biggest selling points of meal delivery services is that they allow you to prepare restaurant-level meals in your own kitchen. If you routinely dine out (or get take-out) several times a week, using a meal delivery service will probably save you money in the long run.

You’ll Learn New Recipes and Techniques

If you’re new to cooking or tend to make the same meals again and again, a meal delivery service will expand your horizons and help you learn new skills. All meal planning kits contain detailed recipe cards. Once you discover some new favorites, you’ll be able to recreate them on your own by simply purchasing the ingredients.   Mom and daughter using meal kit delivery

You’ll Minimize Food Waste

If you routinely buy more groceries than you need, a meal kit delivery service will help with that. Everything is perfectly portion controlled. You should end up with zero food waste — and zero wasted dollars, too.

CONS

The Expense

While the cost of meal delivery services varies, they average out to around $10 a meal, per person. That’s more than what you’d pay buying groceries on your own, but less than dining out. Also, many of these services offer significant discounts on your first delivery. Provided you remember to cancel after your first box, you could try out several boxes at a discount before deciding whether to continue with a service long-term.

Excess Packaging

In addition to the box everything comes in, every ingredient inside is packaged individually, and there are cold packs, too. To avoid a sky-rocketing carbon footprint from disposing of all that packaging, you must be committed to recycling everything.

You Might Not Like Every Meal

Although most services allow you to specify certain ingredients you’d rather avoid, there’s still a chance you’ll run into a meal you don’t enjoy. You’ll get the most value — and enjoyment — from these services if you have an adventurous palate and few dietary restrictions.

Use our Living Expenses Calculator to see if meal kit delivery fits into your overall budget.

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