With almost $5 billion in sales in 2017 alone, it’s safe to say meal delivery services are popular. Even if you haven’t tried the pre-prepared meals from companies like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, or Plated, you’ve probably seen more than a few of their ads pop up in your social media feeds or know someone who has. While these chef-designed, pre-packaged meals can be a great way to try new recipes, are they good for stretching your grocery budget?
According to a recent Morning Consult poll, 59% of survey respondents listed high costs as their primary concerns with meal kits. But with projections suggesting the meal-delivery industry could become a multi-billion dollar market by 2022, it seems like plenty of consumers are still willing to jump on the meal delivery bandwagon. The widespread appeal appears to depend on a variety of factors other than monetary savings.
Costs can be measured by more than money.
Meal delivery services enjoy the highest popularity among millennials and individuals earning more than $100,000 a year, particularly those living in cities. These results point to the fact that busy people appear to value time savings and food quality as much as, if not more than, financial savings.
There’s no denying that it takes time to plan your meals, create a grocery list, and shop for the food. By creating recipes and sending all the ingredients right to your door, companies like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh can save you the time you'd typically spend on planning and shopping. The busier you are, the more value this service becomes.
Quality of Ingredients If saving money on your groceries is your primary goal, it's easy to reduce costs by buying low-quality food. Unfortunately, this strategy usually leaves you with an abundance of processed foods that lack nutrition and flavor. The most popular meal prep services rely on culinary chefs to design meals that combine high-quality ingredients to create a meal that’s healthy and delicious.
With the most popular 2-person meal plans starting at $60 per week for three meal kits, the cost averages $10 per meal. While you can certainly spend less shopping for yourself, these options are considerably less expensive than the average meal at a restaurant. So, if your busy schedule leaves you dining out on a regular basis, meal delivery services may provide financial savings after all.
The value of the meal delivery service depends on your expectations. If you’re looking to spend less than you would by planning your meals and shopping for yourself, you’ll probably be disappointed. But if you view these services as a time-saving bridge between home-cooked meals and going out to eat at restaurants, the value is much easier to see.
Looking to do more with the money that you do have? BECU offers free consultations with trained specialists to help you make decisions and take actions on savings, budgeting, and debt management in real-time during a confidential one-on-one session. Schedule an appointment for a Financial Health Check today!