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Are meal delivery services right for your family?

The pros and cons


As school gets in full swing, planning nutritious family suppers can be a challenge. Working parents are busy with commitments to work, family and their children’s school and extracurricular activities. As a result of such commitments, families may find they have little time to devote to cooking, let alone shopping for food.

As an alternative to dining out, which can be expensive, many families are exploring home-delivery meal kits. For those who value convenience and fresh foods, meal delivery services could be the way to go. Consumer research firm Pentallect predicts the meal-kit business will grow by as much as 30 percent over the next five years. Here is a look at the advantages and disadvantages to them.

Pros

Meal delivery kits’ biggest selling points are convenience and ease of preparation. Such kits make it possible for even novice home cooks to prepare restaurant-quality meals in their own kitchens. The boxes are filled with a week’s worth of ingredients for various recipes. The recipes spell out, step-by-step, how to create delicious meals.

Meal kits can provide a great way to try new foods, enticing eaters to try different recipes. They’re also a good idea for families or singletons who may be bored preparing their typical staples.

Another advantage to meal kits is the portions of the meals are already determined, helping people better control how much they eat. Meal kit users also are unlikely to waste food, which might be common for those accustomed to preparing large meals they rarely finish.

Cons

Cost is usually the biggest detriment to meal kits. Even though meal kits may cost less per person than dining out, they’re still on the expensive side. Meal kit devotees pay for the convenience of having someone plan, package and ship high-quality meals to their doorsteps. Meals may cost anywhere from $50 to $200 per week, with the average at about $10 per meal, per person, says Pentallect. People who can get great deals at grocery stores may feel meal kits are not worth the cost.

Another potential problem with meal kits is that consumers may be at the mercy of the company in terms of the variety of foods available to them. Picky eaters may find the kits include items they will not eat, which can make kits a waste of money and food. Also, it may take some research to find companies that offer foods that fit with dietary preferences, such as those that cater to food allergies or vegan diets or companies that provide organically sourced ingredients.

Environmentalists may frown upon the excess packaging and cooling packs used in some meal kits. Consumers must be committed to recycling or reusing packaging to make meal kits more eco-friendly.

Families who want to give meal kits a try are urged to read reviews on services and check out available menus to ensure the investment is worth it. If convenience is key, meal kits may be the ideal fit.