Each of us wants to save time, money and energy.
Companies that offer make-at-home meal delivery services promise all of those things. But do they really come through?
Chef Ashley McGee helped by opening up one of the demonstration kitchens at Johnson and Wales University and cooking with us. Each company sent us a box to try and promised what we got was exactly what anyone with a subscription would have received.
You can order boxes that serve just two people or a family. Each box contains several meals that you pick in the days before the delivery arrives. They range in price from $8 to $12 a meal depending on the plan and most will let you cancel a weekly subscription at any time.
In many ways they were all the same. Each gives you the exact amount of every ingredient you will need for each meal, though you may have to have oil or butter in the house.
In each case the produce and other ingredients are packaged together and separated by ice packs that keep the meat and fish cold. Hello Fresh and Blue Apron clearly spend a little more time on their packaging but in all three boxes the produce and proteins were all in very good shape.
We made one meal from each box with Chef McGee. You can see our results by watching the video on this page.
"I wouldn't have thought to order from one of these services before this test, but actually they were all very good. All of the instructions were very clear. I liked the instructions from Home Chef best because they detailed what types of pots and pans we would need, too. Again, though, they were all really delicious," Chef McGee said.
While the boxes saved us the time of shopping for the ingredients, and the energy of looking up recipes, we also wanted to know if we saved money.
We used the salmon recipe we made from the Hello Fresh box as an example and assuming we had none of the necessary ingredients in our home already, we shopped for the same ingredients at a popular local grocery store. Here's what we found:
1 bunch broccolini - $2.99
1 thumb ginger - $0.68
1 head garlic - $0.69
1 English cucumber (they didn't have Persian) - $1.00
2 limes - $1.18
1 bunch scallions - $1.00
10 oz. salmon - $6.98
1 box brown rice - $2.65
1 container honey - $2.97
1 bottle soy sauce - $1.69
1 jar sesame seeds - $4.69
Total cost - $26.52
Cost per meal based on two meal plan - $13.26
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