Written by Janine Rogan
Wednesday, August 8th, 2018
Young professionals hustle hard. Between our full-time jobs, volunteer commitments, side hustles and family obligations, we're becoming busier than ever.
I find it hard to balance all these commitments with cooking a healthy dinner each evening. I've seen a lot of ads targeting young couples and families about the many different food box subscription services available (for example: Goodfood, Hello Fresh, Chefs Plate, MissFresh). The sales pitch is that everything comes pre-portioned and ready to cook in under 30 minutes.
My husband and I have now tried a number of food boxes, each for a few meals per week. We compared the costs and the quality of the products to determine if we could save time and money while still enjoying a nutritious meal.
Cost: Prices vary depending on where you are and the type of service available, but for us it's around $80-$90 to purchase four meals in a week, which includes free delivery and everything we need to cook our dinners for the week. Comparing prices on a per portion basis, I calculated that for a week's worth of dinners, on average it costs about $10 per serving.
Nutrition: When it comes to healthy eating, it's important to look at the nutritional and ingredient breakdown of these boxes. Although they do vary based on recipes, what my husband and I found was that a lot of these choices were high-calorie meals, with some close to 800 per serving! Not ideal if you're trying to maintain a healthy diet.
Sustainability: There's less waste, since they only give you what you need. In most of the boxes sent to us, the contents and the cold packs have been 100% recyclable.
Convenience: All you need to do is log on to your food box account and choose the recipes you're interested in. It's simple and easy to have the exact portions delivered right to your door, and they typically include a cold pack that lasts the day if you aren't available when they drop off your order.
Cost: When we purchase groceries for two people having four meals a week, we'll usually spend around $50. This includes a protein, vegetable and carbohydrate in each meal. Therefore it costs around $6-7 per meal.
Nutrition: Purchasing your own groceries will give you a lot more control of what you're eating and how many calories you're consuming on a daily basis.
Sustainability: Buying groceries can be sustainable if you buy exactly what you need and bring your own bags, but sometimes it's easy to buy too much food that eventually goes to waste.
Convenience: It takes more time to decide what to eat, shop, prep and cook. If I spend an hour grocery shopping and driving to and from the store, I need to factor in that time. Shopping for groceries can be enjoyable, but some days I'm just too busy or tired to do it.
If you're just looking at it from a nutritional perspective, grocery shopping remains the best way to stay in control. When it comes to comparing costs, you'll need to take into account what your time is worth. If you're always on the go and don't have an hour to do grocery shopping, then a food box subscription could be worth the extra $3-4 you would spend per meal.