Do Meal Prep Kits Save You Money?

CHICAGO (CBS) — You like to cook, but hate the meal planning and shopping.  People just like you are turning to meal prep kits.  Recipes and ingredients delivered right to your  door.   It’s a huge trend, but will it save you money? CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey checked it out.

David Pryor and Stephanie Zosak’s busy jobs force them to find quick dinner solutions.

When asked how much they were spending each week on groceries, Pryor answered “I think we were spending anywhere from 80-100 bucks”.

So to save time and money they decided to try Blue Apron, a pre-packaged meal kit delivered to your door.

They like that the dinners are portioned – each 800 calories or less. And, they get exactly the right amount of every ingredient – leading to less waste.

“It might only call for 3 tablespoons of fish sauce but… you’re stuck with a 5 to 6 dollar bottle of some ingredient that you may never use,” said Zosak.

While companies make no promises about savings, we decided to see how meal kits compared to grocery shopping.

We ordered from four delivery services. Blue Apron, Chef’d, Hello Fresh and Chicago-based Home Chef.

“We really have heard from customers who are thankful for the fact that their grocery bills have come down,” said Home Chef’s Chief Revenue Officer, Rich DeNardis.

Each box arrived on time, with recipes and ingredients.

We then shopped for all of the same ingredients at the store.

The produce, meat, speces and condiments.

Chef’d offered the most variety including recipes from the American Diabetes Association and Weight Watchers.

But at a cost of $56 for four entrees, the store was a lot cheaper – costing just $43-dollars. A savings of nearly $13.

The store was also cheaper compared to Hello Fresh, which cost $69 dollars for the box of six entrees. But the store was $61, $8 less.

There were savings with both Home Chef and Blue Apron.   Four entrees, including delivery, were $50 at Home Chef. The store was  $57. A $7 savings buying the meal kit.

Six entrees from Blue Apron cost $60. At the store, ingredients were $65-dollars. $5 dollars in savings with Blue Apron.

Not a fortune but the advantage with meal kits may be…

“Less about the cost component of it and more about the fact that it’s convenient,” said Jennifer Ventrelle, a Registered Dietitian with Rush University Medical Center.

Ventrelle thinks meal kits are worth the money for people who struggle to eat better.

“You’re paying for the convenience. You’re paying for the health. You’re paying for portion control,” said Ventrelle.

“It really just is a one stop shop for three of your weekly meals,” said Zosak.

More than 100 companies offer meal kit deliveries.

No matter which one you use –  if you  keep the price per meal to $10 or less – it’s likely buying the kit will be less expensive than buying all of those ingredients at the store.

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