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Do meal delivery subscriptions actually save you money?

Woman wearing a purple shirt on her laptop next to a food delivery box

In the midst of high inflation and grocery store food shortages, now is a great time to take a hard look at how you’re spending your grocery budget. With a little creativity, there are plenty of ways to cut back on the money you spend on food, and for many people, one way to do that is through meal delivery subscriptions. Touted for their fresh ingredients, convenience, and low prices, meal delivery subscriptions have become a staple in many households. But do they actually save you money?

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Let’s take a look at how meal delivery subscriptions work, and whether they’re a cost effective option for you.

How do meal delivery subscriptions work?

Meal delivery subscriptions are pretty simple. As a subscriber, you select meals from an online menu each week, which are then shipped to your door as a set of perfectly portioned and pre-prepared ingredients. When you’re ready to make a meal, you can simply pull them out of the refrigerator and follow a few simple instructions. Before you know it, dinner is served!

Are meal delivery subscriptions cost effective?

Without the grocery store trip and the ingredient preparation that normally goes into a meal, meal delivery subscriptions are a great time saver. But are they cost effective? Here are a few factors to consider:

How often do you eat out? 

How much financial sense a meal delivery subscription makes really depends on your lifestyle. The cost of a meal from most popular meal delivery services is typically between $8 and $11. This is quite a bit cheaper than an average meal out, so if you tend to eat at restaurants frequently, meal delivery subscriptions will likely help you save money.

On the other hand, if you normally cook at home, meal delivery services do cost a little more than the average home cooked meal, which is normally around $5.

How valuable is your time?

We all know the phrase “time is money”, and it’s true! Spending extra time in the kitchen that you otherwise would have dedicated to work does make homemade meals a little more expensive. However, if you are always off of work in the evenings and have that extra time, or if you just really enjoy cooking, meal delivery subscriptions might not be quite as cost effective.

What does a normal meal look like for you?

Another factor to consider is the type of food you normally eat. If you are already health conscious and make the effort to cook healthy meals, a meal delivery subscription might not make as big of an impact on your life. However, if you typically eat a lot of junk food, the healthy meals you get from a meal delivery subscription can improve your well-being and even help avoid preventable health issues, medications, and doctor visits over the long-term, making them very cost effective.

Popular meal delivery subscriptions

Finally, let’s take a look at a couple of the most popular meal delivery subscriptions that can help you become a stay at home chef.

Blue Apron

Blue Apron is known for its high-quality ingredients and chef-tested recipes. Blue Apron menu options include wellness recipes, family-friendly recipes, and vegetarian options. The more meals and servings you purchase per week, the more cost-effective Blue Apron becomes (4 servings 4 times a week is around $7.99 per serving, while 2 servings 2 times per week is around $11.99).

Home Chef

Touted as the meal delivery subscription service with the highest satisfaction rates, Home Chef is known for its delicious meals and excellent variety. When you’re ready to order from the Home Chef menu, you’ll start by taking a quiz about your lifestyle and culinary preferences. Home Chef will then curate some delicious, ideal meal options for you. While Home Chef is priced similarly to Blue Apron, depending on which options you choose for your plan, it’s likely to be just a little more expensive.

Final thoughts

Whether or not a meal delivery subscription is a cost-effective option for you really depends on your lifestyle. If you have a slower lifestyle, normally eat at home, and already make healthy recipes, it might be more budget-friendly to just keep doing what you're doing.

However, if you’re someone who normally eats out, needs extra time to devote to work, or normally doesn’t make the most health-conscious choices, a meal delivery subscription probably makes sense. So next time you hop in your car to navigate to the closest grocery store, think again–a meal delivery subscription might be an easier, healthier, and more cost-effective option.

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Kim Miller

About the author

Kim Miller is the Head of Consumer Marketing at Mulberry. She is passionate about building products and brands that make consumers happy, save them money and make their lives easier. Have an innovative idea for Mulberry you'd like to share? Give her a shout! She'd love to chat about anything from fintech and UX to gardening and antiquing.

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