Whether it be an ad on a podcast, a commercial on TV, or your friend’s latest Instagram post, it seems meal prep kits are EVERYWHERE with new companies popping up all over the place. They promise to make meal planning, prepping, and cooking easy while preserving the at-home cooking experience.
If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that we’ve tried upwards of 150 (or more!) meals from meal prep kits over the past few years. They’ve become a big part of our meal planning and have saved us countless hours of time.
But while we’re big fans, they aren’t right for everyone. In this post, I’ll share the 3 key questions to ask yourself in order to decide whether meal prep kits are right for you.
When it comes to your family’s meals, what’s your goal?
The very first question to ask yourself is what you’re really looking for in terms of your family’s meals. In other words, what do you want to prioritize? What’s most important?
If you’re looking for healthy meals, is that low calorie, low fat, or a specific diet (like keto or vegetarian)? Take a look at the types of meals offered by meal prep kit companies to see if they would jive with your needs. HelloFresh, for example, has a vegetarian meal plan, whereas Chef’s Plate doesn’t but does offer some vegetarian options every week. Trying to keep it under 500 calories per serving? Take a look at a typical week’s menu to see how their meals stack up numbers-wise.
If you’re all about convenience, that’s good to know too. Maybe you value the convenience of a company planning, shopping, and prepping your meals. If that’s the case, are you looking for pre-cut veggies to make the process even faster? Take a look at the prep and cook time involved with various meals.
You may instead care about saving money versus eating out all the time, or getting takeout often. If that’s the case, what are you currently spending per serving and what would you like to be spending? Compare that to weekly meal plan costs to figure out what’s worth it to you.
What are the biggest obstacles to cooking for your family?
Next take a look at what your biggest obstacles are when it comes to achieving these goals.
Is it not having enough time to plan your meals, make grocery lists, shop, and prep the ingredients? If so, a meal prep kit is a fantastic tool.
Or is it that you’re dealing with picky eaters or people with vastly different dietary preferences or restrictions? A one-size-fits-all meal prep kit may not be a great fit. Take a look at a sample week’s recipes to gauge whether it makes sense for you.
Is it being stuck in a rut of making the same meals week after week? Meal prep kits often force you outside of your comfort zone and encourage you to try recipes, foods, and styles you wouldn’t normally be exposed to.
Is it the concern that you’re not great at cooking? Meal prep kits are actually what helped me learn how to cook. In my experience with HelloFresh and Chef’s Plate, I’ve found their step-by-step recipe cards to be easy to follow and have been amazed at how seamless things come together every time.
What are the alternatives?
Now that you have a good sense for what’s most important to your family’s meal plan and what obstacle you’re facing, give some thought to the alternatives.
First, you could do your own meal planning entirely. Find recipes on Pinterest, other websites (like Genius Kitchen or AllRecipes), or in cookbooks. Make a grocery list. Shop. Prep, portion and chop. Cook. This requires the greatest time investment but often yields the lowest cost.
Second, you could opt for prepping your meals at a store with stations like Supperworks. You’ll prepare a bunch of meals at their location which you can then take home and freeze. This requires a moderate amount of time (in a block) and is a moderate cost.
Third, you could buy prepared food like frozen entrees and salad bar sides from your local grocery store to save on convenience, but likely at a higher cost.
My Thoughts in a Nutshell
While we love the convenience of meal prep kits, the approximate cost of $10 per person per meal isn’t something we feel is worth it on a weekly basis, at least for us. I work from home so it’s easy enough for me to defrost meat and prep crockpot meals during the day, and to get a head start on dinner an hour or so before we plan to eat. We live close to many grocery stores, and the fact that we don’t have kids makes it easy for us to run out and get groceries whenever we need them. While planning and prepping meals takes time, we’re in a stage of life where it’s worth it.
That being said, I’d recommend meal prep kits if you:
- Have a large food budget or you’re already spending over $10/person/serving for meals;
- Value convenience;
- Want to start to enjoy cooking or learn to cook;
- Are looking to try something new and fun with your family; and/or
- Need to get out of a cooking rut.
I’d recommend thinking twice about meal prep kits if you:
- Are on a budget or want to spend under $10/person/serving;
- Have the time and/or desire to meal plan and prep;
- Hate cooking or have no desire to learn;
- Are happy with your current go-to recipes and don’t feel like trying anything new.
Save Money on Meal Prep Kits
If you’ve decided to check out meal prep kits, I’ve got you covered! The great thing is that they all offer amazing introductory specials to make it easy to try them out. I’d recommend trying a few different meal prep kit companies to see which one(s) you like, if any!
HelloFresh (Canada, U.S., UK)
We tried HelloFresh for the first time last year and loved the food. My complete review can be found here.
Chef’s Plate (Canada)
We’ve cooked tons of Chef’s Plate over the meals and love the service! My complete review is here.
Blue Apron (U.S.)
Blue Apron is the grandfather of ingredient-and-recipe subscriptions and services almost the entire United States!
I haven’t tried Plated myself, but have heard good things. Get $25 off each of your first two orders by signing up here. Or, if you’re planning on ordering for several weeks, click here to get 25% off your first four orders, up to $159 value.
Leave me a comment below: are you planning on trying out meal prep kits? Why or why not? Let us know!