Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh is one of many new meal delivery services that are being used as an alternative to local grocery stores.

You can order your prescriptions, clothes, books and just about anything else straight to your doorstep, and meal kit delivery services have joined the list of things you can order from the comfort of your couch. Meal kit delivery services have become so popular that the global business was valued at around $2.2 billion in 2017 by Time. Favored services such as HelloFresh and Blue Apron, which net hundreds of millions of dollars each year, are pushing their advertisements to all age groups with a heavy emphasis on appealing to millennials, who often appreciate convenience. These services have sponsorships with popular social media influencers and offer discounted programs to get their customers hooked.

Seth Bodine, an MU student, took advantage of a discount code when he signed up for HelloFresh. "To me, cooking is very intimidating, and I wanted something that would help give me the incentive to cook," he says. Bodine says the meal kits did incentivize him to cook more, but once the discounted price rose, he cancelled his subscription. Although he discontinued using HelloFresh, he notes that he appreciated the convenience of the service and the recipes he received, which he can use in the future.  

Meal kit subscriptions become pricey in the long run, but how expensive is it? I’ve decided to put my detective skills to the test and broken down the cost difference between two meal kit services and how much the same meals would cost if you were to buy the ingredients at a local store. This experiment will compare the cost of one meal that serves two people before tax from each service. These are price estimates and prices will vary depending on the store and other related variables, such as the brands of the ingredients and varying ingredients needed for different recipes.

HelloFresh

HelloFresh’s weekly service operates on a subscription plan with the option to skip weeks, cancel and change meals. The meal I will compare is the stuffed meatball rigatoni bake, which serves two people.

Cost from HelloFresh = $25 (includes shipping)

Cost from Lucky’s = about $28

Although the cost of the ingredients is cheaper from HelloFresh, you have to also consider the fact that the meal kit only delivers the amount of each ingredient needed for one recipe, so you won’t have leftover ingredients for future use. So, it’s up to you what makes more sense in the long run — skip the store or have leftover ingredients.

Blue Apron

Similar to HelloFresh, Blue Apron also operates on a weekly subscription plan with the option to skip weeks, cancel and change meals, as well. The meal I’m going to compare is the seared chicken and pear salad, which serves two people.

Price from Blue Apron = $28 (includes shipping)

Price from Hyvee = about $37

The price for the ingredients from Hyvee is more expensive than from Blue Apron, but again, you will have leftover ingredients for future use if you skip the meal kit. But, while the prices from Lucky's and Hello Fresh were only $3 apart, you'd spend $9 more to make this recipe with ingredients from Hyvee.

Again, these are price estimates and only compare the price of two servings in an effort to depict what option might be more cost efficient. Personally, I was surprised that the cost of the the meal kit ingredients was not that far off from the cost of buying ingredients at a grocery store. In the end, you'll have to decide what makes the most sense for your needs and budget.

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