The first time I heard about a meal kit delivery service, I thought it sounded promising. You get all the ingredients you need to cook delicious meals delivered straight to your door? Amazing. But as more and more meal kit delivery services have entered the market, offering customers meals ranging from vegan to paleo, I am now convinced that they’re probably one of the worst ways to feed myself.
Of course, everyone has different needs, and a busy lifestyle can make cooking at home difficult. But if you ask me, although there are some exceptions, most people are probably better off opting not to use meal kit delivery services. Let’s take a look at how these types of services often miss the mark.
1. Meal kits are expensive.
I’m genuinely baffled that so many of these meal kit delivery services still claim that they’re offering affordable meals. Sure, you may pay less for a serving than you would at a restaurant, but that’s not saying much considering you still have to cook the food yourself. If you’re just looking at the price of ingredients, you are way, way overpaying for your food if you’re ordering from meal delivery companies. Generally, you’re going to be hovering around $6 to $10 per serving—you could be paying a fraction of that price if you were to head to the grocery store and buy the ingredients yourself.
2. Meal kits are still time-consuming.
If you do have some extra cash to spend on food, you might think that it’s worth it to pay the extra money because of the convenience these meal kit delivery services afford. But when you really think about it, you’re not even going to be saving that much time. Sure, the ingredients may be pre-portioned and ready to go for you, but you ultimately still have to cook the meal. And yes, you’re negating the need to go to the grocery store, which can be a big time-saver. But considering that, in many locations, you can get groceries delivered to your door anyway, meal delivery kits don’t have much to offer on the time-saving front.
3. The food often isn’t that good.
Obviously, not everyone is going to agree with me here. And I know that not all meal delivery kits are created equally—they all offer different dishes to appeal to different tastes. But in my experience, the food you generally get with these services is unremarkable, to say the least. Are they better than restaurant quality? Maybe it’s possible to make that claim if we’re just talking about fast food. Otherwise, though, I’ve found almost every meal I’ve had from a meal kit delivery service to be quite bland. I guess that makes sense when you consider that they have to make menus to appeal to such a wide range of customers. When you follow a recipe at home at home, you can tweak it to your taste. Unfortunately, that’s a bit more difficult when you’re using a meal kit delivery service.
4. There’s so, so much waste.
A lot of these companies say that they’re reducing food waste because you’re only receiving one portion and you don’t have to figure out what to do with the other half of your lemon. But that doesn’t take all the plastic and packaging that these companies require into account. Packing everything individually results in a ton of packaging waste, and if you’re ordering multiple meals a week, all that packaging really adds up.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether meal kit delivery services are worth it or not. For me, personally, the high prices, the boring food and the packaging waste means it doesn’t really make sense, even when I’m short on time. If you need or want to utilize these services, go for it—but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that this is the most efficient way for most people to eat.
Samantha Maxwell is a food writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.