Cooking is a worry to many college students, especially when they’re on their own for the first time. You can’t rely on your mom to make you lunch or the dining hall to always have food ready for you. It’s now up to you to make your own meals.
This scares a lot of college students, and many turn to meal prep services like Blue Apron or HelloFresh to plan the meal for them. It sounds like an appealing option because all you have to do is fire up the stove, but these services are a waste of money and not worth your time.
It’s nice to not have to go grocery shopping and to have the ingredients hand-picked for you, but the meal prep services cost more than going grocery shopping. Meal-kit services cost about $10 per person for each meal — at least $7.50 per person less than dinner at a full-service restaurant, including tax, tip, parking, and other costs. Home-delivered meal kits sound appetizing. However, a meal kit — while less expensive than dining out — still costs more than buying food at the grocery store and preparing it at home.
Even if you don’t like grocery shopping, you can use Shipt or any other grocery store’s delivery service, like HEB’s “HEB to you” which offers home delivery and curbside pickup. There are alternatives to going grocery shopping without having to succumb to meal-kit services.
If you aren’t already a chef at heart, why would Blue Apron or HelloFresh make you one? In theory, having food magically appear at your door will make you want to cook. But if the ambition and desire aren’t there to make your own food to begin with, then you likely won’t want to cook the delivered ingredients either. You may start out strong, but it’s going to end up being more cost-effective in the long run to try buying your own ingredients and starting out on your own first.
A positive to these meal-kit services is you can use them to help you learn to cook. You can take advantage of the trial period and use that period to learn how to cook, gaining necessary skills and techniques. HelloFresh, for example, is currently offering $60 off of your first three boxes. But after the first round of the deliveries end, it’s not worth your time to continue the subscription, because you can go grocery shopping and get the same ingredients for less money now that you have the tools and experience to cook on your own.
The packages these kits are delivered in are also not environmentally friendly. There is a ton of leftover waste from all of the ingredients that were delivered. And in the case of Blue Apron, the service delivers five million meals per month. That is an incredible amount of waste. Not only is the packing waste a problem, but if you can’t find the time to make your meal in time, the ingredients could go bad before you even use them.
Overall the cons outweigh the pros for meal-kits. They’re not cost effective, they harm the environment, and they won’t motivate you to cook if you aren’t already inclined to fire up the stove. If you’re looking for an easier way to make food at home, you can look up simple recipes online or try cooking with a friend.