Tag Archives: hellofresh

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.

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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.

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!