Grocery Shopping vs. Eating Out vs. Meal-Kit Delivery: What Are the Financial Differences?

Here are the financial differences between grocery shopping, eating out, and using a meal-kit delivery service.

If you’re like me, you need to eat roughly every 3 hours to avoid getting hangry and becoming an absolute nightmare to be around (that and some form of caffeine throughout the day). You probably also want to eat healthier, more wholesome meals. Your options are making your own meal plan, buying all of your groceries yourself, and large batch prepping your meals in advance to eat throughout the week, going to a restaurant/cafe/diner, or using a meal kit delivery service. Here’s how the three stack up using the following meal (taken from HelloFresh’s website):

HelloFresh
Honey Ginger Glazed Chicken

Honey Glazed Chicken Teriyaki over Rice with Sugar Snap Peas (2 servings)
12 oz. antibiotic free, free range Chicken Breast
1 cup of basmati rice
6 oz of sugar snap peas
1 thumb of ginger
1 lime
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Grocery Shopping = $14.5

While you have to spend $13.02 to make this meal by getting the ingredients yourself from the grocery store, the advantage is you can buy these ingredients in larger quantities driving the overall cost down. This is a good option if you plan on having this meal several times throughout the week instead of just once. This is what each ingredient costs, having gotten most of the options on sale:
Chicken Breast: $2.25
Rice: $1.49
Sugar Snap Peas $3.36($0.56/oz)
Ginger: $0.30
Garlic: $0.25
1 lime: $0.40
White Wine Vinegar: $1.49
Honey: $1.99
Soy Sauce: $1.79.
Olive Oil: assume I have this at home.

The benefits of grocery shopping
+ This meal comes out to $13.32 pre-tax (about $14.5 after tax), for both servings ($7.25/serving).
+ You can add/omit ingredients, customizing the recipe however you want and personally selecting each ingredient.

The disadvantages of grocery shopping
+ You wouldn’t just go to the grocery store for this one meal, you would probably go and get everything you need for the week, spending 90 minutes door to door.
+ You have to hope that this grocery store has everything you need for your recipes, otherwise you have to go to more than one grocery store to get what you need.

8 Ways to Save Hundreds on Groceries

How to Meal Prep Like A Pro

Eating Out at a Restaurant/Cafe = $38.63

To get this near $39 valuation, I looked at the cost of similar entrees at several restaurants in my area, and by the area where I work. This may or may not be accurate in your area, since I’m basing my results off of NY and Manhattan prices, which are generally pretty high. Here’s how I came to this valuation:

Person 1: $15
Person 2: $15
Tip: $6 (20%)
Tax: $2.63 (tax is 8.75% in NY)
Total: $38.63

The post-tip and post-tax total is $19.32 per serving.

Benefits of Eating Out
+ Little to no work on your part.
+ Show up, eat, pay, leave.
+ No cooking, no cleaning, no grocery shopping.

Disadvantages of Eating Out
+ More than 2x as expensive as making it yourself.
+ No control over ingredient quality or nutritional content.
+ You do need to commute to the restaurant.

Meal-Kit Delivery Service = $23 (HelloFresh)

HelloFresh Review

The $23 valuation for this option comes directly from HelloFresh’s website, at $11.50/person for one meal for two people. Similar to grocery shopping, the more you buy the more you save with the difference being that you typically don’t have any left over ingredients. Comparable companies like Blue Apron, Plated, and Home Chef cost roughly the same so give or take a few dollars if you use one of them instead of HelloFresh.

Benefits of Meal-Kit Delivery
+ No grocery shopping, saving 90+ minutes not including unpacking and storing ingredients.
+ No food waste.
+ Costs about 40% less than eating out.

Disadvantages of Meal-Kit Delivery
+ Rarely leftovers since the meals are designed for a specific number of servings.
+ You’ll still have to grocery shop for basics since it doesn’t cover breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
+ Costs more than buying all of the ingredients yourself, assuming you can get most of them on sale and don’t care about eating regionally sourced, typically higher quality ingredients.

In the end…

My opinion has always been this: I love cooking, I don’t mind the process of cooking or clean-up, and I love trying new things. I also always tend to put my finances first though so I rarely ever order food from restaurants or stop to pick-up breakfast or lunch on my way to work. IF I was regularly going out to dinner on weekends, I would probably use a meal-kit delivery service because I look cooking and it would save me 40% of my money. Eating at home and entertaining are also a more fun, intimate experience.

I eat 5-6 meals per day and simply could not afford to only eat out or to only use a meal-kit delivery service, so grocery shopping for staple ingredients in my diet (eggs, yogurt, grains, fruit, meat, vegetables) would still have to be my primary way of stocking my fridge.

Big Slice Apples Review

Looking for a delicious new topping in your life? Give Big Slice Apples a shot!

Big Slice Apples

Big Slice Apples is a one-of-a-kind product that began on an apple orchard in the late 1800’s but it wasn’t until 2014 that took their pouch form and went global. Essentially, they’re apple slices in a variety of different natural fruit juice sauces. Imagine an apple pie filling but a little more saucy and packed with flavor. By far my favorite flavor was their French Toast Apple Slices! Here are some different recipes I tried out (sorry no original pictures!):

Big Slice Apples

1. Cinnamon Vanilla Greek Yogurt with French Toast Big Slice Apples

Mix 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt with 1 packet of Big Slice French Toast Apple slices and add 1 tbsp. of reduced-sugar whipped cream with a light drizzle of honey. This healthy breakfast has all of the flavor of French Toast but it’s packed with protein, fresh fruit juices, apples, and a little honey to sweeten things up.

2. Banana Mango Hemp Seed Big Slice Apples over Oatmeal

Cook 1/2 to 1 cup of plain Oatmeal and stir in chopped walnuts and 1 tsp. of cinnamon. Then, add 1 packet of Banana Mango Hemp Seed Big Splice Apple slices over it and top with more chopped walnuts.

3. Blueberry Pomegranate Big Slice Apple over Frozen Yogurt

Freeze 1 cup of Greek yogurt and 1 packet of Blueberry Pomegranate Big Slice Apple slices by stirring them together in a medium size bowl and placing it in the freezer, stirring every 30 minutes until it reaches your desired consistency. This is a guilt-free, low-carb, high protein way to enjoy frozen yogurt.

Cinnamon Vanilla Greek Yogurt Parfait (Recipe)

I had no idea what to expect when they sent me a variety box of their flavors but honestly, I was very impressed and will definitely be purchasing a gift box around the holiday season.

HelloFresh Review

Interested in trying a meal delivery kit service? Here’s my experience using HelloFresh

 

hello fresh

Disclaimer: I work on the HelloFresh social media team now but don’t worry, this post isn’t to tell you why you should choose HelloFresh over their competitors and I’m not being paid to post this. There are no affiliate links and this post isn’t monetized in any way. I’m just posting my experience with my boxes so far, explaining the benefits, and popular concerns.

Background

Meal delivery kits started in 2011 and since then have turned into a tremendous market that many people doubted at first. I’ll admit it, I was a doubter also. In case you’re behind, some of the popular meal delivery kit services include HelloFresh, Blue Apron, Plated, Home Chef, Sun Basket, Marley Spoon and Green Chef. What’s the difference between them all? Different recipes, different styles, different missions. Here are some key things you should know about HelloFresh:

Hello Fresh
Seared Steak with Heirloom Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Orzo Salad

1. They are a meal kit delivery service

Meal kit delivery services like HelloFresh essentially work like this: the company creates recipes that you can make in about 30 minutes. They source all of the ingredients, package the exact amounts needed for the recipe in an refrigerated, insulated box, and ship them (for free) to your home. You unpack your box and cook the recipes yourself.

2. They, like the others, are a subscription service.

This means that whether you get a free box, a promo code, a coupon, or just sign up for a box in general, you are signing up for a subscription service. You can pause up to 8 weeks at a time which means, while HelloFresh is a weekly subscription, you can manually make your subscription bi-weekly, tri-weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly. Again, you have to do this manually for now but it is an option if you want to try the service but can’t commit financially yet.

3. They have a Registered Dietitian on staff.

My degree is in Dietetics so you can imagine why I find this extremely valuable. The recipes are made by a culinary team of chefs with the help and oversight of HelloFresh’s dietitian. What does this mean for you? You have somebody fighting to balance the portions of sodium, fat, carbs, and protein in each recipe. Plus, she creates the nutrition label info so every recipe comes with an ingredient list, nutritional breakdown, and allergen information.

4) The recipes are outstanding and portioned.

Now I haven’t tried any of the other meal kit services’ recipes but I can say this much, the HelloFresh recipes are unbelievable. The menu does change weekly and you’ll probably like some meals more than others, but every week so far there’s been at least one super star meal. Each meal has roughly 5-6 oz of lean protein, a serving of vegetables and a fun twist that I would never think of (orange glazing meatballs?!).

HelloFresh
Seared Sirloin Stir-Fry with Sugar Snap Peas & homemade Ginger Garlic Teriyaki Sauce

What if I already know how to cook?

If you already know how to cook it’s even better, in my opinion. Look through my recipes and you’ll see that while I’m no professional chef, I know my way around a kitchen. If you already know how to cook then you’ll be able to get through these recipes with ease while also learning new techniques and trying new food combinations (I never would have made things like kiwi salsa otherwise). It’s almost like saying “I already know how to read, why buy books?”.

Isn’t it expensive?

That really depends. You could most likely get the ingredients yourself by going to a grocery store and spending 1-2 hours of your time there. Also, I hate when I want to try a new recipe that calls for 1 tsp. of Thyme which means I have to buy a whole bottle. I wouldn’t/couldn’t use a meal delivery kit to account for 100% of my weekly groceries, but it’s an amazing substitute to eating out, dinner dates, and getting out of the rut of making the same meals all of the time.

How Meal Prepping Can Save You Thousands

8 Ways to Save Hundreds on Groceries

Versus going out to eat…

Most meal kit delivery services generally cost around $9.99/meal. HelloFresh meals range from as low as $8.50/meal to $11.50/meal. Compare that with the $20+/meal you’d get at a nice restaurant for very similar meals and meal kits win again! Now, you’re probably thinking “but at least at a restaurant I can sit and be served”. True, but you also pay a premium for that service in both the meal costs and the 20%+ tip. You’ll still wait 30-45 minutes to eat (the approximate cooking time of HelloFresh and their competitor’s recipes) so you essentially have to weigh paying a premium to sit and talk against chopping some vegetables and meat.

Inside the Refrigerated Box: several recipe boxes, HelloPerks and a recipe booklet.
Inside the Refrigerated Box: several recipe boxes, HelloPerks and a recipe booklet.

The Packaging

HelloFresh packages their recipes in individualize, smaller ventilated boxes. Once I get my box at the door, I open it and remove the individualized recipe kits, and stow them away in my fridge until I’m ready to cook. No sorting, no standing in line, just 15 seconds of unpacking.

You do have to deal with breaking down cardboard, emptying the ice packs (once you’ve saved enough of them for later use), and disposing the very limited plastic though.

 

I definitely recommend trying a meal kit delivery service and of course, I highly recommend HelloFresh. There are always tons of promotions and coupons so you can your first box super cheap!

6 Ways to Burn 1 Extra Pound Per Week

Need to burn a little extra belly fat? Here are 10 easy ways to start.

Burning 1 lb. per week essentially boils down to burning an extra 500 calories per day. Whether that means eating 500 fewer calories or stepping up your exercise routine, it’s a lot easier than you think. Try any of these tips to burn 1 extra pound per week:

1. Substitute foods

One of the easiest ways to cut calories is to substitute some of your foods, not cut them out entirely. Swap sour cream with Greek yogurt, mayonnaise with avocados, eggs with egg whites. Of course the portions matter but these healthy alternatives are higher in protein and unsaturated fats, and are lower calorie options.

2. Add a few more minutes of cardio to your plan

Adding a little bit of more cardio to your workout routine every day can help you burn more calories each day, making it easier to hit that 500 calorie deficit.

3. “There is no such thing as snacking”

Try your best to eat in the form of meals. If you prefer to snack throughout the day, turn your plan into 6-7 small meals that you can eat every 2 hours instead of grazing throughout the day.

4. Mind your coffee

Do you always use cream, milk, and/or sugar? Try cutting your sugar and milk portions in half, or drink your coffee black (you get used to it). I’ve seen people put 3-4 packets of sugar in their coffee every day. It’s not an outlandish amount of sugar but that extra 50-60 calories per cup (before milk) can add up, especially if you’re drinking a few cups a day.

5. Watch your high-calorie food

That means anything with a lot of oil, or cooked in oil. Just because something is baked doesn’t mean that the oil all over it doesn’t count. Use olive oil or coconut cooking sprays for extra flavor with less than 1 calorie per 1/4 second spray. Then, use a tsp. of oil or butter if you absolutely need to.

How to Keep Yourself from Binge Eating

6. You booze, you lose

When Mr. OnlyEatsProtein&SaladAllDay or Mrs. Haven’tHadCarbsSince2003 tell me that they can’t lose weight no matter what they do, they usually fail to mention the bottle of wine/day they’re drinking. 1 drink = 100 calories or more. So, if you have several drinks per day and you cut out 3, you’re already down 300 calories per day. Only 200 to go and you didn’t have to do a thing.

Will Drinking Alcohol Make You Fat?

Top 10 Healthiest Beers

 

8 Things You Need To Build A Home Gym Under $100

No time to use your $30+/month gym membership? Try a home gym instead!

No excuses, just plan and execute. Body weight training is a phenomenal, cost-free way to get in shape but it will only get you so far. You’ll want a few pieces of equipment to amp up your progress. Would it be helpful to have a bench press, squat rack, barbells, treadmill, etc.? You bet. But, if you don’t have the money to invest or the square footage necessary than I’ll show you how you can spend under $100 on a home gym.

20 Minute Full Body Home Workout

1. Body Weight Exercise List

Make a list of your favorite body weight exercises. Sprinkle in a few that you also hate, like burpees, jump squats, and mountain climbers (based on the reaction I get when I do group exercise classes and I tell people to do these exercises). Incorporate 4-5 body weight exercises in your routine for 3-4 sets each.

20 Minute Living Room Workout

2. Jump Rope

I like the jump rope because it takes up very little space, it’s a great exercise to do in high intensity spurts of 30-60 seconds, and it can pretty much be done anywhere. Invest the $10 (if that) in a jump rope for your home gym.

3. Doorway Pull-Up Bar

I just bought one of these but my roommates always had them and I used them constantly. Invest another $10-20 in a doorway pull-up bar so you can do a variety of different pull-ups, leg raises, dips, and push-ups (most are designed for multi-purpose use).

4. Ab Roller

Not only is the ab roller a tough exercise, but it can fit in a small box and costs $20 or less unless you get something fancy. An ab roller is a good way to escape planks, sit ups, leg raises, and crunches.

5. Resistance Bands

For $15 or less you can get a variety of different intensity resistance bands for your home gym. I like resistance bands because you can change the resistance based on where you step on the band so 1-2 resistance bands can actually go a long way.

6. A sturdy chair or raised surface

This won’t cost you anything unless you literally don’t own a chair in your home. Use a chair or the edge of your bed frame for exercises like dips, reverse crunches, step-ups, or other core exercises.

7. Trigger Point Rollers

Whether you use a foam roller, tennis ball, lacrosse ball, trigger point roller, tiger tail, or some other make-shift myofascial release tool, recovery is necessary and it deserves a place in your home gym. You can even spend 5-10 minutes before bed rolling out sore muscles if you don’t want to take away from your workout time because you’re under hard time restraints. These can cost you anywhere from under $1 to over $40. Budget however it makes sense to you but definitely consider adding some recovery tools to your arsenal.

4 Keys to Faster Recovery

8. Bodyweight

Because bodyweight exercises make up about 60% of my home workouts, I had to include them on the list. Learn as many bodyweight exercises as possible so you can change up your workouts every few days and hit as many muscles as possible.

Also Worth Looking Into

Kettlebells
A dumbbell set ranging between 10-25+ lbs (none of that 5 and below nonsense).
Battling Ropes (if you have the space for them)
Stability Balls
Bosu Balls
Core Balls

Chipotle Burrito Recipe

Healthy Mexican food on the go is possible with this Chipotle Burrito Recipe!

Chipotle burrito recipe

Although she is small, she is packed with flavor. This burrito isn’t like the 8 lb. burrito you’ll get at some Mexican joints but I made sure to pack it with tons of flavor and healthy alternatives. The ground turkey is cooked in coconut oil and lime juice for a truly tropical flavor. The tortilla is warmed and then spread with chipotle sauce and Greek yogurt. And, of course, she’s loaded with fresh veggies, salsa, and gooey cheese. This Chipotle Burrito recipe is full of healthy fats, lean protein, and is low(er) carb compared to traditional burritos. Here’s how to make it:

Cajun Shrimp/Chicken Quesadilla Recipe

Ingredients
1 large tortilla
4 oz. 93% lean ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped peppers & onions
1/2 cup shredded lettuce
1 tbsp. Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. 6 Pack Fitness Chipotle Hot Sauce
1 tsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Enchiladas with Black Beans & Avocado Recipe

Instructions
1) Heat a large skillet on medium heat and melt 1 tsp. of coconut oil.
2) Add ground turkey and cook until the meat is browned and thoroughly cooked.
3) Add spices and mix to evenly distribute spices. Add 1 tbsp. of chipotle sauce to the meat and stir.
4) Warm a tortilla in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.
5) Spread 1 tbsp. of chipotle sauce and 1 tbsp of Greek yogurt evenly around the tortilla.
6) Place cheese, lettuce, peppers and onions in the center of the tortilla.
7) Place meat in the center of the tortilla/
8) Fold the sides of the tortilla in and then fold a third side over the meat, tucking it under the meat, and roll the tortilla to form a wrap.

Nutrition Protein: 41 g
Carbohydrates: 38 g
Fat: 13 g

Stack this burrito with a tall glass of iced Xtend Pink Lemonade for a bodybuilder’s paradise meal! Check out my Instagram for more recipe ideas, workouts, and a products.

5 Ways to Increase Energy Naturally

Going through your week feeling tired no matter what you do? Try these 5 easy ways to increase energy naturally.

Between caffeine crashes and sugar crashes you may feel like you can barely keep your eyes open anymore, AND IT’S ONLY 4 P.M. Here’s what you can do to increase energy naturally. Even though caffeine is a natural stimulant, we’re going to look at mainly caffeine-free options:

1. Do 20 minutes of cardio every day

Get your heart rate up and blood flow pumping as early in the day as you can. You don’t even need a gym membership. Do a quick 15-20 minute circuit at home, grab a jump rope and do 60 second intervals, or go out for a power walk or jog. Do this 4-5 days per week and you’ll instantly feel more energy throughout the day.

20 Minute Living Room Workout

2. Avoid simple sugars during the day

Simple sugars like juice, candy, sorbet, and pancakes are more likely to spike your blood sugar consequently leading to a blood sugar crash that will leave you feeling sluggish for hours. Avoid simple sugars and white breads by replacing them with whole grains, fruit, vegetables, oats and other high-fiber carbohydrates.

What Are The Best Times to Eat Junk Food?

3. Eat more high-fiber, high energy foods

Fiber helps regulate blood sugar and prevent insulin spiking which will help that inevitable sugar crash. High energy (high in healthy fat) foods like nuts will provide a large dose of calories to keep you going without spiking blood sugar. Try eating 1/2 oz. of roasted almonds with breakfast.

4. Eat 4-5 small, balanced meals per day

Providing your body with balanced doses of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, fat, vitamins, water and minerals throughout the day should prevent that mid-day slump associated with the 3 large meals per day diet. It’s like having adequate nutrition on a continuous drip into your bloodstream versus getting large doses in 5 hour intervals.

5. Limit your caffeine intake and space out doses by 5-6 hours

I couldn’t talk about energy without bringing up caffeine, no matter how hard I tried. The half life of caffeine is roughly 5 hours, so I generally try to space out my doses by 5 hours. Drink your first cup of coffee, tea, or energy drink first thing in the morning. Have your next dose about 5 hours later if you need it and try to cut that dose in half and see if that’s enough to spark some energy without keeping you up all night. Nobody said you have to fill your coffee cup to the brim every time.

5 Caffeine Fitness Benefits

Protein Packed Vanilla Cinnamon Cappuccino Recipe

Check out my Instagram and follow me on Twitter to see what I’m up to!

Mediterranean Zucchini Roll-Up (Zushi) Recipe

Try this delicious vegetarian alternative for sushi as a meal or as an incredible side dish

First there was just zucchini, then there were zoodles, and now there’s zushi…and this Mediterranean Zucchini Roll-Up recipe is a grand slam. The outside is crispy, soft and juicy while the inside is salty, creamy and earthy. Here’s what you need:

Ingredients
2 large zucchinis
1/4 cup low fat goat cheese
1/4 cup spinach
2 tsp. chopped parsley
2 tsp. olive oil
a pinch of salt
a pinch of pepper

Instructions
1) Slice two large zucchinis vertically into wide strips and rub them with olive oil on both sides.
2) Sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
3) Grill on medium heat for 5 minutes or until tender.
4) On the end of the strip add approximately 1 tsp. of goat cheese, sprinkle parsley and add 1-2 spinach leaves.
5) Roll the strips keeping all of the ingredients neatly tucked.
6) Serve.

Nutrition Info
Protein: 4 g
Carbohydrates: 14 g
Fat: 9

Make these your all-star hors d’oeuvres at your next get together.

8 Ways to Save Hundreds on Groceries

Save hundreds of dollars on groceries by following these 8 tips

Does your checkout total surprise you every week at the grocery store? Put yourself in control of your financial and physical health by knowing what to buy, how to buy, when to buy and where to buy. Check out these 8 ways to save on groceries:

How Meal Prepping Can Save You Thousands

 

1. Shop the perimeter

90% of your grocery shopping should be done around the perimeter of the aisles with the exception being for toiletries, paper plates/towels, etc. Reason being, the perimeter is made up of whole foods like yogurt, eggs, meat, cheese, milk, fruits, bread and vegetables. This should make up 90% of your cart every time.

The 80/20 Diet Rule

2. Buy in season

Buy your favorite fruits and vegetables in their prime season. The best way to stay on top of this is to adjust your recipes to match the seasonal harvest.

3. Buy what you can in bulk

For dry foods you may even be able to do this online. If you’re going to eat oatmeal for breakfast most mornings then consider ordering it in bulk or larger than normal quantities to cut costs in the long run.

How to Meal Prep Like a Pro

4. Keep an eye out for surpluses

When I was 15 I used to work at a farmer’s market. I remember one season we had huge, overgrown cauliflower for nearly 1/2 price that grew up to 10-11 lbs. Keep an eye out for a surplus in groceries like eggs, fruits and vegetables that might cut costs down significantly, and then take advantage of those savings. These surpluses can generally save you 25-50% off or more!

5. Buy on sale

Doesn’t get much easier than this. Keep an eye out for good deals on foods you would get regularly. Every aisle generally has sales ranging from 5% to 50% off. If you’re able to buy most of your products on sale, even if it’s only 5%, those savings could add up to several hundred dollars by the end of the year.

6. Go in with a budget in mind

If you know you spend $100/week on groceries, then plan on making that your absolute maximum. Buying on sale, in season and in bulk will help keep your costs under that $100/week limit. Try to cut that number to $95/week and that $5 weekly savings will add up to $260 per year!

7. Hunt for promos/coupons

Using online promo codes or coupons is a tried and true way to save tens of dollars per week on groceries. If you save only $10/week by doing this you’ll save $520 by the end of the year!

8. Join a rewards program

Some, if not most, grocery stores offer rewards programs to incentivize shopping exclusively at their store. Stop & Shop converts shopping “points” to gas savings. I’ve had clients that have saved hundreds of dollars on gas by using rewards points to get $0.1, $.25, or $.50 off each gallon of gas.

I hope you found this helpful and you find creative ways to save money while living healthy and fit!