My friend Jessi posted on Facebook an article entitled "How to Save Money When You're Young, Dumb and Broke." I won't tell you which of those modifiers I identified with, but I read the article and noticed that the author, who also seems to be living alone, has taken to using a meal kit subscription service and finds it economical for her circumstances. For those of you who don't know (I didn't), companies such as Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Plated and Gobble offer weekly subscription boxes delivered to your door that contain ingredients and recipes for 3-ish meals, for anywhere from 2 to 4 people. The one the author cited, Blue Apron, costs $60 a week, and she gets anywhere from 6 to 9 meals out of it. This got me thinking, and I've wasted most of my morning ruminating on the pros and cons in my head, which I will presently share because I can.
Pro: Cheaper than grocery shopping
I know, $60 sounds kind of expensive for three meals. However, in watching a Youtube grocery haul recently, I realized I spend an average of $100 on food a week. For myself. $50-ish at Costco and $50-ish at Trader Joe's, once a week. Having groceries delivered would dramatically reduce my monthly food costs by mitigating temptation if nothing else. Even if I went shopping twice a month for breakfast food, fruit and snacks to augment, I'd still be saving over $100 a month on food. If I got 7-9 meals a week out of it, my daily food cost would be under $10 total, which is pretty good -- better if I can stretch the leftovers.
Pro: Less Waste
The food I consume is 90% perishables and 50% Costco quantities. Even with a consistent diet and eating at home as often as I can, I end up wasting a lot more produce than I'm happy to admit simply because I can't get through that large a quantity before it goes off. (I do plan to start composting to offset some of this, but that's a work in progress.) Having pre-portioned ingredients means no waste. As for the packaging, it all seems fairly recyclable -- some services even let you ship the packaging back for free to be recycled.
When it comes to feeding myself, I am spectacularly unoriginal. My daily meals at home consist of a bowl of plain Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen berries and chia seeds (which I have eaten daily for at least six years) and a lunch/dinner salad consisting Costco power greens, cherry tomatoes, a couple other veggies, maybe some fruit, Kirkland pre-grilled chicken breast strips, a smattering of blue cheese and some balsamic vinegar (which I've eaten daily for three years), occasionally augmented with hard boiled eggs to snack on. I just never think to make anything else and can't normally be bothered to do any food prep that involves slicing, let alone heating. With one of these boxes, I'm guaranteed at least some variety in my diet without having to be creative.
Pro: Forces me to cook
I'm not a naturally gifted cook and don't do it unless I have to. I bought a crockpot thinking that if I could cook in bulk and freeze it, but it's been a long ordeal retraining myself that the freezer is not just where food goes to die, and that leftovers from the freezer can indeed be palatable. Knowing how I tick, I'm much more likely to cook three times a week and eat day-old leftovers than cook twice a month and eat leftovers that went unrecognizable in the freezer.
Pro: Less time spent shopping
I'm a bit of an agoraphobe, and grocery shopping for me is like running the gauntlet, especially on weekends (stay tuned for a Costco intra-aisle road rage post to follow). Not only would having to do it less be delightful, but I'd save a gallon of gas each week I don't have to go. Plus, I'll be less likely to starve those weeks over the winter when I can't be arsed to put on snow boots, unbury my car and go out.
And finally . . .
Pro: It's a package to open
I'm a Prime addict -- I love
As for the cons . . .
Con: I might still waste food
If for some reason I don't like the recipe, get busy or otherwise flake, there's still a good possibility I'll defeat the box's purpose. I like to think I'd do better than that, but let's be real -- I'm committing to cooking three times a week when I currently cook once a month at best.
Pro/Con: I might never leave the house
There are indeed some weeks when I only go out because staying in means waiting to see whether the cats eat me first or I them. If the food comes to me, why go out at all.
For my circumstance, this service has enough going for it that it's at least worth a shot. I'll probably order a box for next week since I'll be out of busy season and will have more time to cook.I'll try to chronicle that ordeal -- with pictures -- if I remember.