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Are Meal Prep services worthwhile?

You've likely heard of Blue Apron or Plated, major players in the "meal kit" space.  Go to a website, order the food you are interested in, and within days you'll have all the ingredients necessary to make everything from coconut curry noodles to mozzarella and red pepper stuffed tenderloin.  There are more than half a dozen major players in this space already, most with venture-backing, and now the grocery stores like Albertsons (which just acquired Plated) and Kroger's are entering the fray, with - you guessed it - Amazon just behind them.  It's clear that there's a demand for make-at-home food - but is a meal prep service right for you?  Maybe.

Start with why

There are lots of reasons might consider meal prep kits.  They realize they are eating out too much and hence spending more than they need to and probably not eating as healthily as they could.  Or, they have a desire to learn some basic cooking skills, but don't know where to start with recipes and ingredients.  The hidden power of these services is the feeling people can get when they are in the kitchen, spending 30-60 minutes actually making a meal.  If you're not used to it, yes, it can be frustrating and you might occasionally nick yourself with a knife, but you'll likely gain an appreciation for all the hard work happened to get those ingredients to your plate.

Examine your options

North America has dozens of options.  In addition to all the ones mentioned above, there's also Purple Carrot (all plant-based, but used by many non-vegans), Home Chef, and Hello Fresh, among others.  While the lowest prices are offered by the current industry leader, Blue Apron, at an average of $9.99 per meal per person, there's still a lot of competition for market share and hence all sorts of great first-time customer offers you can take advantage of.

Pricing and Sustainability

To be fair, $9.99 per person for a home cooked meal is pretty good.  These companies will make the argument of time and sustainability.  They are getting you the ingredients you need in the portion size you want, hence reducing waste.  Of course, they are shipping these packages to you with non-recyclable foam and freezer packs.  There are tradeoffs.  They'll also argue it'll save you time from shopping in the grocery store, but some would argue that it's fun and interesting to pick out your own food and experiment, making your own discoveries and mistakes.  Whether a meal prep kit is right for you will depend on how you value food and its preparation in your life.  And if you've not been happy with either of those recently, perhaps it's time for a change.

How often do you cook at home?  Do you use a meal prep service?  Why or why not?  Share with us in the comments below to receive a coupon for 25% off any Rascal product at one of our clubs.

Ben Davis

About Ben Davis

A serial entrepreneur, Ben Davis is founder of The Gents Place and a leading investor in gentlemen's refinement and confidence.

I have started cooking at home and have been mostly successful. I do well with pan fried pork chops and chicken breasts, but can’t get a thick steak cooked medium well. I have also used a crockpot to make pulled pork and shredded chicken breasts. I look online for the recipes. I add a canned vegetable, slice of bread and candy bar for dessert. Cheaper than the meal prep but not as fancy. I might try the packaged meals if I get to cooking for two.

We’ve been using blue apron for about a year. Not sure if it saves any money, but I enjoy the ability to start and finish a project and enjoy the results in less than an hour. Compared to my job, it’s refreshing. I also like not wasting all the extra ingredients when I shop normally. I’ve been introduced to a lot of new flavors as well.

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