What a Crock and others are changing the way Americans make dinner.
It's the end of a tiring workday, you find yourself gazing into an open refrigerator that’s filled with unappealing leftovers and some past-their-prime veggies, wondering “Ugh, what's for dinner?”
For many Americans, meal delivery services is the answer. Every week, you pick from a selection of meals that include an ever-changing list of offerings on a company’s website, such as Blue Apron, Purple Carrot, Peach Dish, HelloFresh, or Green Chef, the list goes on-and-on, and a few days later a box packed with chilled, premeasured quality ingredients and detailed recipe cards arrive at your front door.
The trend took off back in 2012. These meal prep services are now a $400 million business that’s calculated to increase drastically in five or six years from now, according to Technomic, a known food industry resource. Today there are more than 100 different meal delivery services that provide some easy-to-follow-recipes in the U.S., and freshly delicious meals are popping up more and more. Even Martha Stewart and Ayesha Curry (Stephen Curry's wife) reported they were jumping on board with the meal plan business. Who would have thought The The New York Times would offer one where you can get the fresh ingredients for healthy meal options on its cooking website? Everyone's doing it!
Why's it so enticing?
“The convenience of these kits is attractive, but freshness is also very important,” Darren Seifer, a food and beverage industry analyst at the NPD Group told Consumer Reports. “Some consumers, especially millennials, are willing to spend more time preparing food because they value freshness, but they still want to get out of the kitchen fairly quickly.”
Are Meal Kit Delivery Services Healthy?
A lot of the marketing for these meal kit services focuses on "freshness," so there’s a perception that the meals are also healthy packed with seasonal ingredients. But Kimberly Gudzune, M.D., M.P.H., an obesity-medicine expert and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, gave them a close examination. The ingredients from many of the services, including What a Crock, are indeed fresh. And What a Crock's menu provides all of the daily suggested nutrition.
Most concerns revolve around the high sodium content found in these chef-designed recipes. “That’s what I worry about,” Gudzune told Consumer Reports, “especially for people who are 50 and older, who are at greater risk for heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.”
Be aware of the sodium content of each meal and what your daily allowance is if it is restricted.
Depending on how much you consume of these simple recipes will alter the nutritional value a bit, too. Finding the opportunity to make, yet, a different two-person meal out of the proportioned ingredients will cut calories, sodium, and fat. Our findings show that many of the meals in these services provide enough components to allow for the extra feed, and most of the meal kit audience on that consumer reports panel said they were happy with the amount on their dishes. There were a few men, though, who felt the meals were on the small side.
Are these Meals from Meal Kit Delivery Services Tasty?
Oh yes, they are! About 24 of the 27 different meals Consumer Reports tested received honorary scores based on taste. Not to mention, what an excellent way to construct a family plan that may even broaden your family's taste buds. Having the opportunity to meal prep with your family out of the comfort of your home rather than browsing the grocery store for extended amounts of time is a plus, too!
These brands provide many recipes with ingredients that may be unknown to some, such as Korean noodle soup, hemp salad dressing, or even southern cornbread pie.
Many consumers, including those Generation Xers and baby boomers, are onboard to use the kits to move away from the tempting comfort foods. These food connoisseurs usually go to their same favorite restaurants and making similar meals in the comfort of their own homes, so the use of meal kits allows them to be adventurous.
What’s the Cost of Convenience?
Since every family has a specific budget, Consumer Reports bought the ingredients from both the supermarket and one of the meal services to compare the costs. The DIY purchases from the market were noted to cost less than the meal kit price, but if you have a kitchen full of spices you rarely use or throw away, these kits, financially, make more sense!
A member of the Consumer Reports user panel even said the meal plan service she subscribed to lessened her food shopping bill by half. Magazine panelists with incomes that range as low as $25,000 to as high as six figures think that meal delivery services are the smarter option.
The value connects to other factors and additional money comparisons, in some cases. Many people have disclosed that these services are very pricey, yet worth it! Others mention the fact that it cuts their time in half when it comes to making dinner since it eliminates shopping time at the store.
You must be curious what the best part about this is, right? Well, take a minute or two to check out a few of these services for yourself! It's easy and painless, but we can't promise that you won't be drooling by the end of your research. You can see the plans What a Crock offers here.