Meal Kits: Pros and Cons

So I’ll be the first to admit I was critical of this whole meal kit phenomenon. If a “meal kit” is something you’re not familiar with, it is basically a service where food is delivered to your doorstep in pre-packaged, pre-measured portions where you can simply cook the meal at home following the step-by-step instructions the come with the food.

I grew up in the economy size purchasing family, where everything was bought in bulk and at the bottom dollar (four kids in the family with farm sized appetites quickly bump into budget constraints). The thought of paying extra for everything to be ready for one meal seemed pretty preposterous to me. Carolyn, on the other hand, felt that this meal kit thing might have some value. I foolishly spouted off my disagreement immediately, drawing the (justified) ire of my wife.

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Rookie husband mistake. Engage two ears prior to engaging one mouth = happier wife.

But lately, a couple of random thoughts left me scratching my head thinking about how there might be some value to this whole meal kit business. These were prompted by an article from the September 2017 issue of Drovers magazine on the topic. The first thought was the article talking about how meal kits would decrease the need for grocery shopping.

Now, the grocery store is for my foodie wife like a trip to Cabela’s is for me. She meticulously watches the sales to score that perfect deal on sweet potatoes, all the while purchasing some ingredients I’ve never heard of that come in glass bottles at a price that negates the sweet potato savings. Before you think I’m complaining, I would happily remind you dear reader that I have never bought smaller pants since I met this woman, so I fully support everything she does with her cooking wizardry.

Carolyn with stars

I don’t care if it’s black magic, nothing can stand between that lady and her creations. Bon appetit!

However for me, grocery shopping is pretty much a pain in the rear end. It doesn’t matter what store it is, whenever I have the time to go is when every Tom, Dick and Harry in the tri-county area thinks this is the store they need to buy their groceries from. If I was a fan of crowds, I wouldn’t live in rural South Dakota.

Enter the meal kit. Now, I’m not saying it would replace all the grocery shopping, but I can sympathize with the folks who want to avoid the store sometimes so they can make supper. You can’t always make something out of what just happens to be hanging out in the freezer and pantry.

Which brings the second point–food kits would definitely cut down on food waste. It seems like once a month Carolyn has a recipe that calls for chopped celery. So she buys the stalk of celery, chops a cup and the rest just sits.

And sits.

And then I realize that it is about to go bad. This is where my “a penny saved is a penny earned” instincts kick into high gear as I begin to snack on celery. But snacking is not enough, so it becomes featured in meals. Pretty soon, I’m just eating the darn celery all day so it can be gone before it goes to junk, but I have become as bitter about my cuisine as the taste of the celery (no matter how much peanut butter I throw at it, which always seems to run out when there’s celery hanging around). I finally finish it all, congratulate myself on a job well done, and the next day Carolyn walks in with another stalk of it, for another recipe.

Wide Eyed Jake

And panic sets in…

The food kit, on the other hand, would contain exactly enough celery for that recipe. No endless days stuffing my face with celery because “by gosh I paid for it!”. Just enough for the tasty recipe and no more.

But, food kits have their limits. For starters, you pay for the convenience. Do you make the money back in reducing food waste? Maybe, but I would highly recommend that you check out the Food Waste Challenge put together by the Beef Checkoff to help reduce your food waste to begin with (P.S. if you do it right, you won’t end up foundering on celery like I do). But, if you eat at home on a somewhat infrequent basis, maybe the meal kit is the easier way to go.

Second, food kits assume your portion sizes. If you like a 6 oz. fillet mignon with a few veggies, then yeah, that’s fine. But if you’re the 16 oz. ribeye with a baked potato kind of guy, you’ll end up looking for more after you’re done with said food kit. Or, you may feel somewhat brazen and try to sneak some of your wife’s food, but I would not recommend this.

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Another rookie mistake.

So now I’ve become a lot more open to this whole food kit thing. We probably won’t be doing a lot of it at our place, due to an ample supply of beef from the folk’s last butcher and pheasants we’ve shot. However, I’ve heard tell that Hello Fresh food kits offers Omaha Steaks as part of their lineup. That being the case, you sure can’t go wrong with that deal.

-Jake

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