Christy Hayes and James Prisk are like a lot of people these days.
Their schedules are just as tight as their budget for the grocery store.
“If I needed to go to the grocery store, it was either on the weekends and I also work on the weekends. We probably spend $80 to $100 depending on what we need,” Hayes said.
So, cost and convenience are two reasons why the expecting parents of Hazelwood have turned to Blue Apron for the past six months.
“We order it once a week. And right now, it’s just us two in the house so it’s perfect,” Prisk explained.
Blue Apron is a pre-packaged meal preparation kit that you order and personalize online. Then it’s delivered right to your door.
Under the two-person meal plan, the kit comes with a total of six meals. It also includes recipes, instructions and just the right amount of fresh food and ingredients.
Prisk said, “There’s really no waste at all when it comes to preparing the meals. There’s almost exactly what we need.”
Companies like Blue Apron do brag about helping to cut down on food waste, but some don’t always promise to save you money.
So, Five on Your Side decided to see how these meal kits compare to going to the grocery store.
We ordered from Blue Apron and three of its competitors, Hello Fresh, Home Chef and Plated.
Then, we went to Schnucks at Hampton Village and bought the exact same ingredients, except for a few substitutes for things we couldn’t find.
Home Chef cost us $59.70 for six meals. Compare that to $80.24 at the store. We saved $20.54.
Blue Apron cost us $59.94 for six meals. Compare that to $75.03 at the store. We saved $15.09.
Hello Fresh and Plated each gave us a discount for our first deliveries.
But normally, Plated would cost $54 for four meals. That’s compared to $73.12 at the store. We saved $19.12.
Hello Fresh normally costs $59.94 for six meals. Compare that to $62.28 at the store. We saved $2.30.
So while it might not sound like a fortune, perhaps saving money isn’t the only benefit.
“Purely for my sanity and my organization during the week, it is saving me a ton. It’s not an argument. It’s not a fight,” said Tara Todd, a registered dietician.
Todd said money aside, meal kits can help busy people make healthier choices.
“We need to be able to enjoy the food we’re consuming. The patients and families I see just eat to eat. I think they’ve lost whether it’s good for them or tastes good,” Todd explained.
But for Hayes and her husband, the real selling point is time.
“I don’t have to grocery shop. The ingredients just come right to me,” Hayes said.
And in case you’re curious about trying one of these plans yourself, there are a lot of different options. Most companies let you cancel or pause your plan any time you want.
Todd recommended trying a few different ones before you commit to a meal service.
Even some local restaurants and grocery store chains, including Schnucks, are beginning to offer home delivery services.