The Pros & Cons of a Food Prep Box Home Delivery Service.
First off, let me start off by telling you I never would have imagined myself paying a premium on a food box of ingredients that I could easily pick up at the grocery store myself and save my pennies, and I’m sure you’ll agree, as moms we try our best to budget and save wherever we can….but, hear me out on the pros and cons and you might just find that it’s worth a try.
Food Box Cons.
So I’ll start with the cons because I like to save the best for last. Firstly there’s the obvious one that is:
PRICE: you’re definitely paying more for the food box than what you would if you shop smart at a grocery store for the same quantities, although to buy all the actual ingredients yourself would sometimes actually cost you more depending on the packaged quantities, and you would likely also have ingredients left over…which most likely will get lost in your fridge and if they’re lucky to make it into a “clear the fridge out” dish and not the trash can.
Now for some this may actually be a pro, but I’m actually a big fan of leftovers, especially to take for lunch on the days I work at the office, so that can be a bit of a bummer. Especially when you’ve cooked something absolutely delicious that you’d really like to eat again.
PORTION SIZE/NO SECOND HELPINGS:
Most of the time I found the portion sizes to be just right but there were a few times that my husband and I were still a bit hungry afterward and could have gone for another helping. Although to be fair we also tend to share every meal with our toddler so perhaps if we fed him separately it’d be just right. But I’m all about getting him to try new things from an early age to prevent him becoming a fussy eater (but let’s face it, I think they’re all fussy eaters at some point so at some stages we end up feeding them whatever they’ll eat just to make sure they don’t starve!)
USE BY DATE: One thing I noticed with these ingredients, particularly with the meat, is that you really need to use them all within a few days or at least the week in which you receive them. While most of the time this isn’t an issue it can be a bit annoying when you have any disruptions to your normal routine like spontaneously deciding to meet up with friends for dinner, or if you’re just not in the mood to cook when you’ve been running errands later than expected and decide to just grab something on the way home. But for the most part it works out fine. Which brings me to the pros…
Food Box Pros.
IT GIVES YOU A BREAK:
While you still have to do the cooking (unless you are lucky enough to have someone who will actually cook for you), it gives you a break from…figuring out what to make for dinner…making a list of ingredients…taking trip to the grocery store…measuring out what you’ll use etc. which may not seem like a big deal but it actually feels pretty good when you try it because it saves you a lot of time and stress in the process.
IT IMPROVES YOUR COOKING SKILLS:
So I’ve been wanting to take cooking classes for a while to broaden my horizons on what I cook, because honestly I’ll confess that I’m really not great at cooking from a recipe. I just don’t seem to have the attention span to read right through it all and put everything into a list and then go get all the ingredients and read through it again for instructions, and figure out the timing for each component. So having most of that taken care of and just having to focus on the step by step guide allows me to easily try new ingredients that I had previously never even heard of, like Poblano peppers (they don’t have them in Europe ok), and white miso paste to make the most incredible sauce for pork chops. I also learned about how amazing zesting lemons and limes can be to add an amazing fresh flavor to a dish. It really turned cooking into a new adventure that I looked forward to.
IT GIVES YOU SENSIBLE PORTIONS:
OK, I know I said I didn’t like that you can’t have seconds or leftovers but in a way it’s been really helpful to learn portion control, I’m not talking a calorie controlled diet here or anything, but just realizing that I don’t always need to feel totally full to be satisfied and also just getting a feel for how little I actually need with ingredients has made it easier to shop for less rather than buying in bulk thinking I’m saving but then having things go bad.
One of my pet peeves is food going bad in the fridge and having to throw it away. I give myself a guilt trip every time thinking about the “starving kids in Africa” that my Mom always drummed into us as kids whenever we wouldn’t eat our veggies. I really hate to waste food, and not only that but it’s a waste of money too. According to the NRDC, apparently the average family in America wastes $2,275 worth of food every year. That’s $43.75 a week…so that’s almost the cost of a box right there and you know there’ll be no waste so it feels pretty good to have a fridge full of perfectly measured ingredients that will leave you with clean empty shelves at the end of it.
IT MAY ACTUALLY SAVE YOU MONEY:
So even though it seems to cost more initially it may actually save you money in ways you may not realize at first.
Apart from the ‘no waste’ part that I love, there’s also the fact that I go to the grocery store less, which means fewer impulse buys, which admittedly I’m pretty bad about, and no matter how well-intentioned I am going in with a list and trying to stick to a budget, there’s always something I find that’s either a really good deal, or I hadn’t thought to put it on the list, or it just looks interesting and I wanna try it, etc. I always find an excuse and persuade myself it’s a good idea.
And my favorite, which is really the biggest money saver of all, is that it really keeps us from eating out as much…which is what we often did when I just needed a break from figuring out what to cook and going grocery shopping etc. (usually on the weekends). I think it helped that my delivery day just happened to be on a Thursday so I would be keen to try the new recipes as soon as I could. It’s kind of like eating out in a way because the food is such good quality and it’s always interesting to try the new mix of flavors.
After trying different boxes for a couple of months we realized we actually ate out a lot less so it really saved us a lot overall.
I’m still trying I decide which one is my favorite since there are quite a few out there to try. My first experience was with Hello Fresh, a fellow mom friend recommended it to me and it’s definitely one of the best, the ingredients are always fresh and the recipes are great. I’ve also tried comparable ones such as Home Chef (the recipes are a bit more basic), and Plated (loved the recipes but the ingredients often weren’t as fresh).
THERE ARE ORGANIC OPTIONS
If you’re trying to be a bit more health conscious and eat clean there are also some great organic options such as Sunbasket (my overall favorite as far as recipes go) Green Chef (they have fewer options to choose from and are very adventurous with their menu so it can be a bit hit or miss), and Blue Apron (Price wise this one wins, they have really tasty recipes with new and interesting ingredients, and excellent customer service whenever I’ve had any issues).
If you’re trying any of these for the first time they generally offer a great discount of around 50% off to try it out. Usually after you sign up they will send you a few free gift box coupons to give to friends so ask around and see if any of your friends have tried it yet and maybe they’ll have one for you, or otherwise you could be the one to offer them one, and if they end up liking it too you’ll get a discount added towards your next box as well so it’s a win-win.