What is the difference between meal kits vs prepared meals?
In today's on-demand world, there are so many options when it comes to food delivery.
There are options for everything under the sun, and all of them with differentiations that make them unique.
Two of the most popular and most satisfying options out there include meal kits and prepared meal delivery services.
What does each service entail?
What's included? What are some pros & cons?
We've got the low down on both types of services to compare and contrast if you're looking for some help getting meals on the table.
What is a Meal Kit?
A meal kit is a box of ingredients shipped to your home along with recipes so that you can cook them without the planning, shopping & prepping that usually accompanies meal planning.
There are many different models, but most of them operate within a subscription model.
You'll receive a set number of meals per week, and typically you can pause as needed.
Most of the time to get started, you'll fill out a questionnaire about your family's dietary needs & preferences so you can choose a plan that works for you.
The ingredients will be mostly prepped, with the exception of those that don't hold very well and need to be prepped immediately before cooking, such as sweet potatoes, fresh herbs, etc.
Pros of Meal Kits
The benefits of meal kits can vary depending on your specific needs and the specific company you choose, but there are some overarching themes that tend to span the board.
Some of these benefits include:
- Time savings – skip planning, shopping, and prepping
- Money savings – less food waste and pre-measured ingredients mean you don't have to buy a full package of everything you need for a recipe
- Ability to try new things – most companies rotate their menus weekly so you get new options often
- Learn new cooking skills – recipe cards are typically detailed and even include tips & tricks so you can learn a new technique you may not have tried before
Cons of Meal Kits
While there are many worthwhile benefits to using meal kit services, there are some downsides as well.
Some of these areas include:
- You still need to do the cooking
- Most kits only cover one type of meal (dinner, for example)
- Chance of ingredients breaking down in transit (wilted basil, for instance)
What is Prepared Meal Delivery?
Prepared meals, on the other hand, are meals that have already been cooked, then cooled and packaged for reheating by you.
This goes a step further than meal kits, albeit at a higher cost.
There are many different models within this industry as well, although most of them also operate within a subscription model similar to those of meal kits.
You can typically choose your meals per week or allow them to randomly generate and pause as needed.
Some services will ship their meals after flash-freezing them, so you can keep them for longer periods of time and defrost before reheating.
Others provide fresh meals meant to be eaten within a week and kept in the refrigerator.
Pros of Prepared Meals
There are many upsides to using a prepared meal delivery service.
They're the epitome of convenience, that's for sure.
Positive notes include:
- Even more time savings than meal kits – no planning, shopping, prepping, or cooking! Simply reheat.
- Some money savings, albeit not as much as meal kits – you'll still save on food waste for sure
- Ability to try foods you'd never choose to cook yourself
- No dishes! You can reheat & eat right in the container it comes in
- More freedom to choose exactly what you want
- Portion size is already set for you
Cons of Prepared Meals
As with any service (especially a delivery service), there are some downsides.
Examples of these include:
- Higher cost than meal kits
- Wider variety of offerings (many services offer a mix of different types of meals, such as breakfast and dinner)
- Meals aren't quite as fresh as when you cook them yourself