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A Complete Guide To Prepared Meals & Meal Delivery

Friday, January 15th

A Complete Guide to Prepared Meals & Meal Delivery

The way that consumers shop and purchase groceries has been changed by the introduction of meal boxes. Whether they are prepared meal kits, grocery boxes, or meal kits that you put together yourself, this newer way of shopping for groceries has attempted to disrupt the food industry as we know it.

What Are Prepared Meals?

Prepared meal delivery services range in their uses and traits. A prepared meal service is a subscription-based product that sends consumers pre-portioned meals. This allows customers to personalize their healthy food choices, while not actually having to make their food from scratch, or even do their own grocery shopping.

There is a difference between meal kits, prepared meal deliveries, and grocery boxes. Prepared meal kits offer a completed nutritious meal delivered straight to a consumer's door, making it easy for busy customers to eat healthy consistently. This is a new take on the "freezer meals" that used to dominated the prepared meal scene, offering freshly cooked food, instead of preservative-heavy, traditional, frozen foods. Both meal kits and grocery boxes offer the necessary ingredients prepackaged, and directions on exactly how to cook them to make specific meals. These services are designed around teaching not only the habit of eating healthy, but the skills to cook healthy food as well.

As of March 2017 there were at least 150 meal kit companies in the United States, with at least one third of adults purchasing meal delivery kits online. Grocery stores and supermarkets have tried to compete by selling their own pre-made meals or pre-packaged meal kits, with Amazon hopping on board in 2016. Even Oprah Winfrey has released a premade grocery meal box called "O, That's Good!". So how do they all work?

How Do Prepared Meal Services Work?

How the meals arrive at your doorstep will depend on which product or service a consumer purchases. Some meal delivery companies offer fresh meals that are delivered every 2-3 days in refrigerated packaging, while others choose to freeze their meals completely, at the peak of freshness. Typically, these meals come fully prepared. Subscribers have the ability to order as many (or as few) meals as they'd like, with the ability to feed entire families at once, or one individual at a time.

Cost and Customization

Dishes made from a meal kit (or a delivered prepared meal) can cost around $11 a piece, only slightly higher than buying the ingredients at the store yourself. Most consumers pay for weekly or monthly subscriptions. This makes it easy for customers to remember to order, and it guarantees sales for the delivery business. Some companies allow their users to order meals one at a time, allowing consumers to order something they enjoyed again and avoiding something that maybe didn't sit well with them.

What Are the Benefits of Prepared Meals?

The most well liked aspects of prepared meal delivery services is that consumers don't have to worry about grocery shopping or finding recipes. By being exposed to foods they may not normally eat, customers gain the opportunity to expand their palate without having to work super hard.

Balanced Nutrition

Prepared meals make eating healthy simple. Rebecca Scritchfield, a registered nutritionist says that prepared meal kits can help consumers control how much they eat. Saying that portion size and the quality of the ingredients are the two main factors that influence of the intake of balanced nutrients.

Accommodating Special Diets

Prepared meal delivery kits frequently offer dietary-specific options. For example, most prepared meals companies offer vegetarian or gluten-free options. Cooking for specific food and allergy intolerances can be difficult on it's own, but these types of meal programs make sure that the foods are free of any known allergies before they ship to you. This can help take the guesswork out of prescribed dieting or healthy eating.

Who Uses Prepared Meals?

Prepared meal delivery kits address the demand for convenience in modern life. Working and parenting can leave families pressed for time. Younger consumers may not yet have the skills to cook a full, balanced meal, and so they turn to prepared meal delivery services. With sixty percent of Americans going on a diet to prevent an ailment, the demand for fresh, healthy food, is ever increasing. Most industry critics chalk the increase in prepared meal delivery services up to several things, including:

  • Consumers career stresses
  • Looking after a family
  • Longer work days
  • A shift in women's household roles
  • The inconvenience of grocery shopping

Eating healthy can be difficult. Whether you are looking to gain weight or lose it, change your diet completely, or you are just wanting to see the effects on your health that clean eating can make on your life, there are plenty of diet options out there to choose from.

Those looking to change their diet are the some of the most perfect consumers for prepared meal delivery kits. By making healthy eating options readily available and convenient to eat, the ideas it that you will have an easier time committing to nourishing your body day after day. Prepared meal kits offer diet options for individuals on a keto diet as well as a diabetic specific diet. Even if individuals do not use prepared meals in the long term to maintain a diet, it can be a game-changing tool when it comes to consistency in the infancy stages of a diet.

The Growing Popularity of Prepared Meals

Since the creation of Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and Plated, a flood of meal box competitors have entered into the market, each box offering unique meal options or food choices. The prepared meal delivery industry saw one and a half billion dollars worth of global sales in 2015. Experts suspect that this industry will increase sales to over $5 billion within the next seven years. As of July 2017, according to USA Today, the meal kit business was estimated to generate $2.2 billion globally.

While big meal box companies like Blue Apron have done an awesome job laying the groundwork for this industry, providing consumers with information that makes them comfortable with ordering pre-measured ingredients that they then cook themselves, these days more companies are switching their product to pre-made meals. Companies like Freshly are now offering full scale pre made meals and delivering them directly to your door.

The Best Prepared Meal Companies Compare Prepared Meal Companies Compare Prepared Meal Company Reviews What are the best Prepared Meal Companies Best Prepared Meal Company Reviews

Prepared Meal Company FAQ

Prepared meal subscriptions are popular for the same reason your favorite fast food joint has a long line at the drive-through at dinnertime: they're convenient! Imagine never having to go grocery shopping again! However, most people who subscribe to a prepared meals plan use it to supplement their regular cooking rather than replacing every single meal (e.g. just for a few dinners a week, for all weekend meals, etc.).
That depends on the service you select. Some specialize in reheat-and-eat meals similar to a traditional TV dinner, while others deliver all of the ingredients you need to prepare the recipes they provide. There are also options for holiday meals, special occasion dinners, plus sides and desserts if you want to impress the crowd at your next office potluck - without having to do the work yourself!
You might be surprised. Most prepared meal services let you see customer comments on each dish - while some might not have been a huge favorite, most have hundreds (if not thousands) of rave reviews. And, if you're not known for being terribly creative or skilled in the kitchen, prepared meals can help you get out of your comfort zone and expand your taste horizons.
It will definitely cost more than if you bought all of the ingredients and prepared them yourself. But, the per-meal cost is typically less than what you'd spend in a restaurant. Expect a cost-per-serving somewhere between $8 and $12, depending on the plan you select.
Most services offering prepared meals have several options to choose from, either as an overall plan (like vegan or gluten-free) or on a meal-by-meal basis where you choose from a menu of meals for the month and can avoid any ingredients that you prefer not to have.
Two words: convenience and taste. Would you rather come home to another dinner of ramen or PB&J, or to a box of fresh ingredients that you can pull together into a restaurant-quality meal in just a few minutes? Subscribing to a prepared meals service can help you get out of your fast food rut, spare you the agony of yet another week of meal planning and grocery shopping, or just add some welcome variety to your eating habits.
Unfortunately, most prepared meal plans aren't going to be affordable if you're feeding a crowd every night. There are a few that cater to larger families (or that have more portions per delivery so that you can have leftovers, feed houseguests, etc.). These services even have some menus that are designed to be more kid-friendly.
That depends on the service. If your meals arrive in bad condition - rotten ingredients, thawed meals that were supposed to be frozen at the time of delivery, and so forth - you'll usually get a refund or a replacement. A few providers of prepared meals offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee with a refund or store credit, regardless of the reason.

Compare Prepared Meal Companies

Select any 2 Prepared Meal Companies to compare them head to head

best-prepared-meal-companies
  • Freshly
  • Bistro MD
  • Veestro
  • Home Chef
  • Sunbasket
  • Hello Fresh
  • Blue Apron
  • Diet To Go
  • Harry & David
  • Magic Kitchen
  • Personal Chef To Go
  • Martha & Marley Spoon
  • Plated
  • Home Bistro
Freshly vs Bistro MD Freshly vs Veestro Freshly vs Home Chef Freshly vs Sunbasket Freshly vs Hello Fresh Freshly vs Blue Apron Freshly vs Diet To Go Freshly vs Harry & David Freshly vs Magic Kitchen Freshly vs Personal Chef To Go Freshly vs Martha & Marley Spoon Freshly vs Plated Freshly vs Home Bistro Bistro MD vs Veestro Bistro MD vs Home Chef Bistro MD vs Sunbasket Bistro MD vs Hello Fresh Bistro MD vs Blue Apron Bistro MD vs Diet To Go Bistro MD vs Harry & David Bistro MD vs Magic Kitchen Bistro MD vs Personal Chef To Go Bistro MD vs Martha & Marley Spoon Bistro MD vs Plated Bistro MD vs Home Bistro Veestro vs Home Chef Veestro vs Sunbasket Veestro vs Hello Fresh Veestro vs Blue Apron Veestro vs Diet To Go Veestro vs Harry & David Veestro vs Magic Kitchen Veestro vs Personal Chef To Go Veestro vs Martha & Marley Spoon Veestro vs Plated Veestro vs Home Bistro Home Chef vs Sunbasket Home Chef vs Hello Fresh Home Chef vs Blue Apron Home Chef vs Diet To Go Home Chef vs Harry & David Home Chef vs Magic Kitchen Home Chef vs Personal Chef To Go Home Chef vs Martha & Marley Spoon Home Chef vs Plated Home Chef vs Home Bistro Sunbasket vs Hello Fresh Sunbasket vs Blue Apron Sunbasket vs Diet To Go Sunbasket vs Harry & David Sunbasket vs Magic Kitchen Sunbasket vs Personal Chef To Go Sunbasket vs Martha & Marley Spoon Sunbasket vs Plated Sunbasket vs Home Bistro Hello Fresh vs Blue Apron Hello Fresh vs Diet To Go Hello Fresh vs Harry & David Hello Fresh vs Magic Kitchen Hello Fresh vs Personal Chef To Go Hello Fresh vs Martha & Marley Spoon Hello Fresh vs Plated Hello Fresh vs Home Bistro Blue Apron vs Diet To Go Blue Apron vs Harry & David Blue Apron vs Magic Kitchen Blue Apron vs Personal Chef To Go Blue Apron vs Martha & Marley Spoon Blue Apron vs Plated Blue Apron vs Home Bistro Diet To Go vs Harry & David Diet To Go vs Magic Kitchen Diet To Go vs Personal Chef To Go Diet To Go vs Martha & Marley Spoon Diet To Go vs Plated Diet To Go vs Home Bistro Harry & David vs Magic Kitchen Harry & David vs Personal Chef To Go Harry & David vs Martha & Marley Spoon Harry & David vs Plated Harry & David vs Home Bistro Magic Kitchen vs Personal Chef To Go Magic Kitchen vs Martha & Marley Spoon Magic Kitchen vs Plated Magic Kitchen vs Home Bistro Personal Chef To Go vs Martha & Marley Spoon Personal Chef To Go vs Plated Personal Chef To Go vs Home Bistro Martha & Marley Spoon vs Plated Martha & Marley Spoon vs Home Bistro Plated vs Home Bistro
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