Meal Boxes are Complete Bullshit
When all of those first free meal box cards kept showing up in my packages, I thought that they sounded pretty neat. A box of food delivered right to your door with a nice little recipe attached. How cute. Then, I looked into them and realized just how flippin’ expensive — and stupid — they are.
As someone who knows how to cook, and knows her way around a grocery store, I couldn’t fathom the idea of paying $40+ for a box of food just for one meal. Why wouldn’t I just order some yummy take-out for that kind of cash and not have to cook? I shook my head in disbelief and threw the card away.
Then, the advertising went full blast as covid hit us all. Why leave your house when you can get all of your groceries delivered right to your door! Well, because we’re not all millionaires and you can curb-side pick-up damn-near anywhere for groceries? The commercials rang out, one, in particular, stating that they were cheaper than buying groceries. I’m not sure where they get their numbers from, and I really don’t want to know where they get their food from if they’re claiming they’re cheaper than heading to a grocery store. I have a hard time buying this idea, well, because one meal at the grocery store won’t cost you upwards of $30–50 and won’t come with shipping fees. Plus, have any of you heard of sales?
Now, there are cheaper options, for sure, but only if you’re buying one meal, and definitely if you’re just choosing a vegetarian option. Most services state that they cost just under $10 per person. Again, if you go to the grocery store you can buy more food for that price.
I know, I know, I sound like a cheap, grouchy old lady. And, I am. But, I’m also aghast that this took off so fast. How lazy have we become as a society that we can’t go to the grocery store and whip up a quick meal? You can make a healthy supper in less than 30 minutes; there is no need to get fancy for every meal.
The price isn’t the kicker for me, although it’s — clearly — a sore spot. It’s the waste. Everything is packaged when you get a meal kit. When, as a society, we’re trying to move away from plastic packaging, it just doesn’t make sense to be ordering more plastic through the mail. Though it’s a nightmare for the environment, meal kits aren’t necessarily as evil as I thought they were when compared to grocery shopping. Apparently, grocery shopping can emit more emissions. Emphasis on can. The main culprit is food waste. The easy fix? Stop buying so much and only buy what you need. Freeze or dehydrate what you won’t be able to use in time. It’ll save you from wasting food and will save you money. They also take into consideration driving to the grocery store, except…are you only eating meal kits 24/7? Surely, you would have to go to the grocery store for breakfasts and lunches, snacks, soap, perishable items like milk or yogurt. Also, what if you don’t drive to the grocery store and can walk, or bike?
This is just more sneaky marketing, telling you that a box full of food that’s been shipped from who-knows-where is better than going to the grocery store. Yes, certain parts of it can be greener for the environment, but it’s not the whole picture. The greener options also lean towards buying more vegetarian meal kits (although they do take into consideration the meat ones, too), which is something you can easily do if you head to a grocery store. The produce section is always front and center when you walk in.
You also get what you get. Meaning you can’t pick out your favourite brands of meat or vegetables. You can’t support that local farmer you love. I like my particular brands of food, as there are just tastier options out there. I also like to support my local farmers, instead of having my food shipped in from any place. Even if there are boxes that support farmers from your country, do you like their practices? Are they regenerative farmers? Do they care about the environment and their animal’s well-being? Worse, are the farmers involved in factory farms? Domestic doesn’t automatically mean good.
Want to still buy a meal kit? Try one from your local market. There are tons out there that are doing a couple of weekly meal kits prepared by their staff, and use the ingredient you love, know, and trust. Plus, you get to help out a local business.
The moral of this long-winded rant? Meal kits are stupid. If you’re just learning how to cook, and are unsure of what to buy, then buying a few boxes to get you started can be helpful. Then again, you can just open up these old things we call cookbooks and check out the ingredients list there, too.