Meal kits have become a trendy meal prep option for busy people. There’s an increasing number of companies that will deliver pre-measured ingredients for breakfast, lunch, or dinner to your door. Once delivered, all you have to do is follow the provided assembly and cooking directions, and you have a delicious homemade meal.
Is this new fad cheaper or less time-consuming than dining out or shopping for groceries? Here’s a look at how these three methods compare.
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Is It Cheaper to Buy Groceries or Dine Out?
Cost-effectiveness plays a major role in many people’s eating habits. Some people assume that dining out is more expensive than grocery shopping, but as you can see in the graphic, this is not always true. In fact, in this example, grocery shopping finishes as the most expensive option, which may surprise you.
Still, you should take a few things into consideration:
- If you buy ingredients for a meal, it may be in bulk and, therefore, could provide long-term savings.
- You may make a larger portion size at home than you receive at a restaurant.
- You can choose the quality of food and brands you purchase when you shop yourself.
- Restaurants vary greatly in prices.
All these things may make grocery shopping more economical than it seems in this example.
Are Subscription Meal Kits Worth It?
The meal kit looks like a bargain in our example, as it seems to be the cheapest of the three options. This may not be true for every meal, however. Still, many people love that they don’t have to spend time measuring food or planning every meal. It can also be exciting to try new foods that the meal kit delivery service chooses for you.
For a delivery service to remain economical, you must eat the fresh food relatively quickly so it doesn’t spoil. You also should check if the meal service can meet special needs, such as providing gluten-free or dairy-free food if someone in your family has an allergy.
Using Coupons and Discounts to Meal Plan
Another factor that can save you money at the grocery store, which you won’t find at a restaurant or with a meal kit, is advance meal planning. This involves thinking ahead and plotting out what you will have for dinner, and perhaps other meals, for the entire week. When you do this, you can save at the grocery store by doing things such as:
- Planning your meals around store specials, such as two-for-one chicken breasts.
- Using manufacturer or online coupons to save additional money.
- Making enough for leftovers you can eat at lunch the next day.
Meal planning can give you a bit more flexibility than a meal delivery service, too. If you find a great deal on carrots, for instance, you can swap them into a recipe that had called for broccoli. Or you can buy in bulk and freeze the ingredients you won’t use right away.
What is best for your family — dining out, grocery shopping or meal delivery? Only you can gauge the right fit. You may be willing to sacrifice taste for cost savings or efficiency for a variety of food. Whatever you decide, remember that our Founder’s Card can help you save through our credit card rewards program if you use your card for any of these three food options. For more money-saving tips, check out our WalletWorks page.
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