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      October 15, 2018

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A Complete Guide To Prepared Meals and Meal Delivery Services

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?

Delivery and Frequency

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?

Convenience

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.

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