We are all well familiar with the notion of getting food delivered right to our doorsteps right? Personally one of my earliest, happy memories is the giddying excitement I would feel when the pizza delivery man knocked on our door and handed over a giant box of fresh hot sloppy, cheesy pizzary goodness.
But in recent years the food delivery niche has expanded substantially. Whereas previously, food delivery was a Friday night treat generally consisting of a hot, fatty, oily indulgence that would make your Doctor frown, this really is not the case anymore. Firstly, some time ago the supermarkets started doing deliveries saving families the agonies of waiting in checkout lines behind noisy children and then the everything company Amazon even started delivering food to our doors.
But perhaps the most interesting development of all, is the meal kit/food box industry. Meal kits (sometimes known as food subscriptions) are pre-packaged deliveries of fresh, measured and curated ingredients that you then cook into a delicious hot meal. Each meal is individually packed, the quantities are weighed out precisely and you get an easy to follow recipe telling you exactly what to do to cook it.
Meal kits have proven a big hit with working families and single professionals but are also popular with bad cooks and lazy sods. Even self proclaimed domestic gods like me dabble with them when I cannot face going to the supermarket (it was NO fun during the COVID pandemic let me tell you). Meal kits can save you an abundance of time in shopping for food and in planning — for me the trickiest part of cooking is staring at my cupboards wondering what exactly it is I feel like eating. Meal kits take care of all of this helping diners to eat healthily, easier than ever. The market is big and getting bigger.
There are loads of meal kit companies out there. Some like Hello Fresh operate internationally and now feed millions of families worldwide whereas others operate more locally and only cater for certain states or provinces.
What Is In A Meal Kit?
Firstly, it is important to understand that there is a meal kit subscription for pretty much every possible palette. You can have your provider send you as little as 2 meals per week or you can have them do 7. They can provide a meal just for you, or for a family of 8 — it all depends on what you need and how much you are willing to pay. More interestingly, they also cater for a range of different diets. When I was using Hello Fresh, we were on their vegetarian plan and one week even tried their low calorie menu. You can also find meal kits subs for vegan, keto and even bodybuilder diets (ie, loads of meat. Steroids not included).
However, there are some common themes running throughout meal kits. They all emphasize healthy, nutritious food. With a meal kit plan you are guaranteed to be well on your way to hit your 5 a day. Even when they do send you potatoes to make fries with (chips for us British readers) the recipe will call for oven cooked rather than deep fried. Meal kits also strive to provide variety and keep things interesting — you will only ever see the same recipe twice if you are a long term subscriber and have worked your way through the whole menu.
How Does Meal Kit Delivery Work?
So as I said, you join up with a plan, select how many meals you want per week and how many people you need to feed. You can customise the meal kit type you want such as vegetarian, low calorie or whatever. However, please note that (to my knowledge) it is not possible to customize within meal subscriptions, for example, if you have one vegetarian in your family then either you will all have to go vegetarian, or else the vegetarian will have to deal with being served cooked up rotting flesh. Capiche?
Anyway, you then simply select your preferred delivery date and then a big box of ready to go meal kits will materialise. Please note that it is important to try to be home when your meal kits delivery arrives otherwise it may be left outside which is not ideal. Also, a little bug bear of meal kit deliveries is that they do tend to use a LOT of packing as everything is individually wrapped. Whilst a lot of the packaging is fully recyclable, some of it is not. Still, this is a conundrum of the modern world at large faces and is not unique to the meal kit game.
Is A Meal Kit Worth It?
So, is a meal kit worth your money? In case you are still in doubt about whether a meal kit subscription is right for you, let us take a look at some meal box contents and some actual meal kit recipes to help make your mind up.
- Halloumi, Pepper, and Sweetcorn Tacos
In this meal box I received the following ingredients;
1 x echalion shallot
1 x yellow bell pepper
1 x small tin of sweetcorn
1 x pack of halloumi
1 x small sachet ground cumin
1 x small sachet mayonnaise
1 x small pot chipotle paste
1 x medium tomato
4 x spring onion
6 x tortillas
This meal contained 2 of our recommended 5 a day. Whilst halloumi is not perhaps a completely healthy component, the rest of the ingredients are very healthy and so it all balances out. If we had opted for the low calorie version, I presume that the meal box would hae contained either low fat halloumi, or they may have swapped it out for another ingredient altogether. A full serving (502 grams) contained 3717 KJ of energy and only 48 grams of fat.
- Sweet Potato Coconut Dal
In this meal box I received the following ingredients;
1 x onion
1 x knob ginger
1 x sweet potato
1 x sachet cutty powder
1 x small tin tomato puree
1 x small tin coconut milk
1 x sachet veg stock paste
1 x box red lentils
1 x pack of coriander
1 x lime
1 x small pot of dukkah mix
2 x whole wheat tortilla
1 x pack baby spinach
Again, this contained 2 of our 5 a day. All in all its a very healthy meal, coconut milk does contain some fat, but its all about moderation and a low cal option is available. Note that the tortillas are made from whole wheat for extra health value. One serving (586g) contains 3549 KJ energy and 32 grams of fat.