Are meal delivery services worth the investment and could you really benefit from them at all?
Well I’ve got 2 answers for you.
Yes if you plan on using them as an occasional substitute. (more on this later)
No if you think it’s going to save you money upfront.
I think it is important that I make that latter point clear because that really is the basis of whether meal delivery services are of any value or not.
To be honest “Meal delivery services are intended to complement a better quality of life than they are a means to live frugally.”
If your intentions are primarily to save money then truth is you’re better off prepping your own meals and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Why do I think that last point matters?
That’s because even with the best of intentions it’s tough to make a recommendation without taking into account your current situation.
But even though I’m not aware of what that situation may be, I believe you can make the best decision for yourself if you take the time to figure out how meal delivery services could fit into your current lifestyle.
Simply going off of someone else’s recommendation isn’t enough.
So to help you make that decision let’s begin with the importance of meal prep then compare that to the pros and cons of meal delivery services.
That’s how you get a better perspective.
What Can Meal Prep Do For You?
Don’t confuse this question with the benefits of meal delivery services. We’ll talk about those later.
What I’m asking here is “if you had all the resources do you think prepping your meals ahead of time will be a good idea?”
You probably have your answers already but let’s recap some of the benefits of meal prepping on your own.
1 - Saves You Time
This is one of the main reasons why anyone chooses to meal prep.
Regardless of your approach, prepping your meals in advance can save you time for other activities.
Anyone with a busy schedule can attest to this.
It’s always a great feeling to have your meals available or at least ready to cook when you need them.
2 - Allows You Total Control Over What You Eat
Want fajitas this week? Go for it.
Want smoothies for breakfast or maybe something heavier? Your pick.
Want to combine different options? Still your choice.
The point is there are no limitations when it comes to prepping your own food.
You have complete control over what you choose to prep and eat.
3 - Saves You Money
What happens when you’re hungry and don’t have something readily available?
You go for whatever option that’s going to satisfy you immediately. In most cases it’s either ordering in or dining out.
Not only do all those costs add up but takeout is the number diet killer.
Meal prep is a good way to eliminate a lot of the impulse buying. Plus it also encourages you to buy in bulk which is another way to save money.
4 - Healthier Food Decisions
Once you decide to start meal prepping you tend to start making healthier food choices for yourself.
When you have a plan in mind grocery shopping is a lot easier and you are less tempted to stock up on the unhealthy stuff.
5 - Portion Control
One of the biggest struggles with weight (specifically losing weight) is primarily due to the inability to properly portion the amount of food we eat.
Meal prep allows you to size up your meals accordingly and you can make the necessary adjustments depending on your goals.
6 - It Improves Your Cooking Skills
The best way to learn a new skill is to commit to it.
The more you prep your meals the more comfortable you get in the kitchen.
7 - Stick With Your Diet
When you prepare your meals ahead of time you’re more likely to commit to them and stick to any particular diet you’ve chosen for yourself.
Lesser temptations and the reduced need to grab something else all make it easier for you to maintain your diet.
8 - Less Food Waste
Shopping for and preparing what you need prevents you from having a pantry or fridge full of stuff you might just end up throwing away.
Plus leftovers from your prep means more meals for you.
Those are just a few excellent reasons why meal prepping is great and why it could be of benefit to you.
Like I said before, I’m sure you already knew most of these. (a little refresher doesn’t hurt though)
The only problem is meal prepping can be hectic especially if you’re a beginner and don’t have enough time to learn all the ropes.
The lack of time is often what makes it difficult to commit to and stick with it.
That’s where meal delivery services come in.
They help reduce much of the work you need to do on your own while allowing you to still reap the full benefits of having readily available meals.
Let’s take a look at how.
Benefits of Meal Delivery Services
1 - Saves Time
Less planning, less prepping, less cleaning and so on.
All you need to do is sign up, order the meals you need and have them delivered straight to you.
2 - Fewer Grocery Store Runs
Meal delivery services save you from all those treacherous trips to the grocery store and the temptations that come along with them.
If you’re someone who just doesn’t like grocery shopping then could be a good option for you.
3 - Cheaper than Dining Out
This really depends on how often you do it.
If you’re someone who spends a lot of money on takeout food then using a meal delivery service could be a cheaper (and healthier) alternative for you.
4 - Customizable to Fit Your Dietary Needs
All the popular meal delivery services allow you to customize your meals as you see fit.
You’re able to add or remove different ingredients and can even switch over to a completely new diet at any point if you want to.
5 - Meal Variety
The beauty of meal delivery services is they offer more variety than you’d typically make on your own.
It’s easier to try new foods or different diets when all you need is a few clicks.
6 - Healthy Choices
Need healthy food on the go?
Well meal delivery services have plenty of options for you to choose from.
In fact most of them are built on you making healthier decisions.
The ease of ordering and lesser prep times also make it more likely for you to make healthy choices.
7 - They Make It Easier to Commit
With a simplified process it’s a lot easier to commit.
A lot of the guesswork is eliminated as well (Things like portion sizes, macros, calories, etc).
8 - Help Reduce Food Waste
All you need to do is order what you need and you’re good to go.
Some meal delivery services like Blue Apron even allow allow you to suspend or pause your meals for a few weeks at a time if you need to.
It all adds up to lesser food been thrown away.
9 - Convenience & Flexibility
This just about sums up all the previous points.
The convenience and flexibility you get with meal delivery services can be a much easier way for you to achieve your health goals quickly.
Cons of Meal Delivery Services
1 - Cost
Meal delivery services are definitely not the most affordable option as far as meal prep goes.
You certainly need some disposable income if you choose to go this route.
The cost of making your own meals is generally always cheaper than that of most meal deliveries.
2 - You Still Need to Prepare The Meals
Yes a lot of the prep work is done for you but you’ll still need to actually cook the meals.
The cooking times may obviously vary but it is still something you need to take into account regardless.
3 - Less Creativity and Lack of Control
Despite the fact that they allow you to customize your meals you still don’t get full creativity and control.
If you’re an advanced cook or someone who likes trying different things in the kitchen then this may not work well for you.
4 - Taste Uncertainty
There’s no guarantee that the food will taste like what you’re used to which could leave you with meals you don’t like.
5 - The Need to Recycle
Meal delivery services use a lot of packaging to keep their meals fresh.
That leads to a lot of trash you need to properly dispose of.
So Are Meal Delivery Services Worth It?
After looking at the pros and cons are meal delivery services really worth it?
In my opinion Yes they are but only if you’ve taken out the time to do your research (costs, meal options, etc) and have determined it is a good fit for your lifestyle.
There’s no denying that meal delivery services won’t ever be cheaper than a well thought out shopping list and meal plan.
But meal delivery services are intended for a different purpose.
They are meant to provide a convenient and simple way for you to eat healthier without all of the effort that comes with meal prep.
Keyword is Convenience.
If you want to eat well but are struggling with time or commitment then this is an alternative for you.
Which leads me to the next point…
Who Can Benefit from Meal Delivery Services?
– Anyone who knows they just don’t have the time to shop, prep or go through all the stuff that’s required of meal prep at home.
– Anyone who needs straightforward meals that are easy to make.
– Anyone who’s struggled with meal prep before but realize its importance and still want to benefit from it.
– Anyone who wants to gradually hone their cooking skills and be more confident in the kitchen.
Who is it Not Ideal For?
– Large families. Although there are options available, it could get really pricey.
– Anyone on a tight budget.
– Anyone who enjoys making their own meals from scratch.
Final Thoughts & Recommendation
If you’re going to use a meal delivery service then your best approach is to start with a comparison between the different ones to see which option best fits your needs.
Good news is I’ve already done all the heavy lifting for you here.
With work, family, friends and all the other things that keep you occupied I’m sure it does get tough to find the perfect time or day to meal prep.
Granted I’m sure you probably still do your best to prep because of the potential improvements it could have on your overall lifestyle – but the challenges still exist.
Meal delivery services can help but they are costly so here’s my recommendation.
Use them as an occasional substitute to free up more time for yourself and your other activities.
If you can create a balance between the meals you have delivered to you and the meals you make yourself then that would be perfect.
That’ll make it not as expensive as it would otherwise be.
Keep in mind that meal delivery services are more about convenience than they are a means to save money.