In this beginner series post, we're going to walk you through how to choose a meal delivery service that will be perfect for you and your particular needs.
If you have a clear idea of what you're looking for, you'll be much more apt to find exactly what you're looking for.
Are you looking for something gluten-free, plant-based, something without any meal prep, lowest cost per meal, best meal variety, breakfast/lunch/dinner options, or something else?
We'll walk you through exactly how to go about finding that perfect meal delivery service.
What Are You Looking to Get from a Meal Delivery Service?
The first thing you need to ask yourself when considering a meal delivery service is what you need from it.
For example, do you struggle with time at night?
Do you end up with a lot of food waste?
Are you spending too much time coming up with recipe ideas, shopping & prepping?
There are a lot of reasons a meal kit can help ease your load when it comes to meals.
A few common meal kit benefits include:
- Saving time at night so you can spend more time with your family
- Weight loss
- Learning new cooking techniques
- Saving money on food waste since everything is pre-portioned
- Saving time throughout the week from planning, shopping & prepping
- Easier to follow specific dietary guidelines (ex: keto, paleo, vegan, etc.)
- Trying new foods
Once you nail down your biggest need, you can figure out which of the many meal delivery services out there can provide the best solution for your particular situation.
How to Find Your Perfect Meal Delivery Service
Once you've defined your problem, there are factors to identify when looking at potential services to see which one will work best for you.
Here are a few factors you should look at to determine their value to you.
Most likely, you'll have a preference in more than one area, so you'll end up happier in the long run if you really figure out what aspects you're looking for before investigating your choices further.
How Much Variety Do They Have With Meal Options?
No matter what you're specifically looking for, you'll definitely want to take a look at any prospective service's upcoming meal variety.
Usually, you'll be able to see at least 2-3 weeks worth of their menus, so it's a good idea to make sure they offer the type of variety you're looking for.
If variety is important to you, you may also want to check how often their menus repeat; this information will usually be found somewhere on their main web page.
Many meal delivery services offer a seasonal menu, which means the ingredients are more often than not pretty fresh and change with the seasons.
Some services will allow you to swap a meal or two, whereas others don't allow any substitutions from their standard menu, and others allow full choice, so be aware of which you'd prefer and make sure you pick a service that fits your needs.
How Much Time to Prep & Cook?
If saving time is more important to you than saving money, then you may want to choose a prepared meal delivery service instead of a true meal kit.
These meals are already cooked & ready to reheat.
They're the epitome of a time-saver, albeit pricier than their meal kit counterparts.
Even with meal kits, though, there can be a wide discrepancy between services in terms of the average amount of time a meal takes to prepare.
Thankfully, most services will post a copy of their recipes on their website.
It's a good idea to look them over to see how many steps they require, how long they quote for prepping and cooking each recipe, and how many ingredients are involved.
Be sure to look at the steps, though.
Some kits tend to squeeze multiple actions into one ‘step' to keep it within an arbitrary overall number of steps without actually being less complicated or time-consuming than others.
There are meal delivery services that specialize in being quick to prepare, have very few ingredients, or minimal preparation steps, so keep an eye out for those if that's an important factor for you.
What Type of Specific Nutrients Do You Need?
If you have any particular dietary needs or preferences, this can be a very important factor when selecting the perfect meal kit box.
Most meal kit companies will offer a variety of different meal plans, so you can usually find what you need.
Options such as vegetarian, vegan, low calorie, paleo, keto, etc. are offerings commonly found with the major brands especially.
There are some specialty brands, though, that may provide more of what you need, so it may pay off to do a bit of looking around.
Most plans out there are of the low-calorie mentality because a large number of people use these meal kits for weight loss purposes.
Many of them focus more on fresh ingredients (sometimes organic) and go heavy on the vegetables while remaining moderate in terms of protein levels.
If that's not your thing, be sure to check if they offer an adequate substitute, or you won't be satisfied when it comes to mealtime.
There are services out there that offer higher protein options, kits that focus on specific macronutrient profiles, the option to add additional protein, etc.
There is a pretty wide price range when it comes to both meal kits and prepared meal delivery services.
Some higher quality services can cost around $15 per serving, although the average is closer to $8-$10 per serving.
There are also budget options, and although you won't get all of the bells & whistles of some of their counterparts, you'll still save time and money where it counts.
These discount services can cost as low as $5 per serving.
It's also good to keep in mind that you can almost always save money on your first few orders by using one of their introductory promotions, which most companies offer for new customers.
There are obviously a lot of factors when it comes to how to choose a meal delivery service that's going to be just right for your needs.
If you take a look at our thoughts above, then look around to some various services offered to your area with these criteria in mind, you're sure to find the perfect one for you and your family.
There are so many different kinds of meal kits, prepared meal delivery services, and hybrid offerings that there really is something for everyone.