Food at your front door

Several home delivery services offer meals in a box

blue apron food box delivered GOODS DELIVERED More companies are delivering fresh ingredients—helping people to create a ready-to-prepare meal at home. Photo: Blue Apron

Like to cook but hate the planning/shopping? There are at least 100 different companies that offer meal preparation kits which, include recipes and ingredients delivered to your door step. Similar offerings include discounts on first orders, pre-portioned ingredients for two to four meals per week and feeding two to four people.

Delivery windows are between 8am and 8pm and insulated packages arrive with ice packs so food stays fresh even if you’re not home when the food is delivered.

Step-by-step instructions on recipe cards, some with photos and video instruction, are provided. You will still need to chop, combine and stir foods according to the recipe. Every food item and ingredient is included in the kit except basics like salt, pepper, sugar, oil and eggs.

Many provide foods that are antibiotic free, sustainable, locally sourced and organic. Some offer vegetarian and gluten-free options.

You can skip weeks that you don’t want and cancel the subscription at any time.

As for the cost, these meal services say that they can offer pricing comparable or less than grocery stores because they cut out the middleman. Bypassing wholesalers, regional grocers and then grocery stores—foods are purchased directly from the farm/producers and then sent directly to you. According to a CBS Channel 2 news investigation, if the meal costs less than $10, it will probably be cheaper than buying all the ingredients at the grocery store.

Prospective buyers could even consider pre ordering special holiday options available by some vendors.

Some experts believe that meal kits will boom into a multi-billion industry within the next five years. Today, about 19 percent of people say they’ve already tried a meal kit service according to Morning Consult, a brand management company. Although research has found that meal kit services are most popular with millennials, men, and wealthier Americans, companies are pushing for a larger market share among young couples, working families and empty-nesters.

Pros

Convenience of having a complete meal without having to shop.
Gives you the chance to try new recipes and foods.
Don’t need to purchase a full size package of an ingredient when only a tablespoon is needed for the recipe.
Portion control – the amount of food is generally satisfying for an average adult.

Cons

Spur-of-the-moment changes in your routine may mean that food may spoil before you can get to it.
Depending on which meal plan you choose, it may be more costly than buying the ingredients at the grocery store.
As ingredients are produced in facilities that also process milk, eggs, fish, nuts, wheat and soy, foods may not be good for people with food allergies.
Some of the copious amount of packaging is not easily to recycle.

Here’s a quick summary of what differentiates the five different providers based on meals for two people, three times a week, along with ratings done by Megan Leonhardt, of Money Magazine last July 2017:

Plated
Rating:  90 points
$12/pp
$71.70 per week (50 percent off first order)
20 recipe choices per week
Dessert for four people is offered at $8 extra

Blue Apron
Rating: 86 points
$9.99 per meal
$59.94 per week ($30 off first order)
8 recipe choices per week
Wine club option: For an extra $10 per bottle, six 500ml (2/3 of a standard-size wine bottle) bottles arrive at your door every month.  

Marley Spoon – Martha Stewart
Rating: 80 points
$12 per meal
$61.50/week ($30 off first order)
10 recipes choices per week
Thanksgiving meal option (by Nov 15)
Six, easy-to-follow instructions per recipe

Hello Fresh
Rating:  68 points
$9.99/pp
$59.94 per week ($35 off first order)
8 recipe choices per week
Egg free/nut free facilities
Wine pairing tips
Wine $14.83/bottle 750 ml, 6 bottles/month
15 percent off for college students

Dinnerly (a sister company to Marley Spoon)
Rating: Unrated, for now, only a West Coast option
$5/pp  ($8.99 shipping)
$38.99/week
3 recipes choices per week
Digital recipe cards instead of paper
Few ingredients
Less packaging materials

Local—Tracy, CA

Bev Stenehjem

Bev Stenehjem

Bev Stenehjem is a wine columnist for South Valley Magazine and is the author of the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley, Arcadia Publishing. Bev also promotes the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley association on Facebook and Twitter. Reach her at [email protected]
Bev Stenehjem

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About Bev Stenehjem
Bev Stenehjem is a wine columnist for South Valley Magazine and is the author of the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley, Arcadia Publishing. Bev also promotes the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley association on Facebook and Twitter. Reach her at [email protected]