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Are Meal Kits Really Cheaper than Groceries?

Head and shoulders photograph of Anju Mobin
A woman standing in her kitchen with her laptop and a meal kit box on the table.
Meal kits can add variety, convenience, and even better calories to your dining routine. Yet before you toss those grocery lists for good, check our cost comparison. The winner may have you rethinking dinner.

Busy professionals, parents on a tight budget, or anyone with dietary requirements can order nutritious pre-sized foods instantly with meal delivery services.

However, buying groceries can be slightly more affordable if you compare the two. There's more to it than just price tough. Consider how food kits can conveniently override the cost difference by the gas and time saved.

I use my medical nutrition training and clinical experience to analyze daily nutritional requirements, actual food costs, and effective planning that meets nourishment needs on any budget. In this article, I leverage that to compare the true differences in value between meal kits and groceries to help you make the right choice for your needs.

Let's dive in.

» Check out these celebrities who swear by meal delivery services.

Meal Kit Prices vs. Grocery Store Prices

2-Person Serving
4-Person Serving
Home Chef
Martha & Marley Spoon

We got the prices for the comparison above from the respective meal delivery websites.

The cost of groceries was based on data from the USDA and multiple other sources, which provide price ranges for preparing food at home. In this case, the cost for a 2-person serving prepared at home was estimated to be around $4.

Note that these are average calculations as food costs vary by state. Also, the price of groceries can vary depending on the ingredients used. Meal delivery services often have promotions or discounts for new customers, so prices could also be lower initially.

Meal kit prices differ in range. A well-priced, budget-friendly kit should cost around $5 for a 2-person serving.

Compared dollar for dollar, meal delivery prices per serving are only about $1 more expensive than buying groceries. However, other factors justify spending a little extra. For instance, delivery services show more promise regarding fuel cost, food waste, and time savings.

» Find out about the most and least expensive states for buying groceries in the US.

How Do Meal Kits Save You on Fuel Costs?

With constant inflation and rising gas prices, home-cooked food is becoming more and more expensive to prepare. Meal kits may be the budget-friendly option. Instead of taking regular trips to the grocery store, you can have your food delivered right to your doorstep.

A weekly food kit delivery uses less fuel and lowers the bottom line of costs. For instance, if you don't effectively plan your weekly meals and visit the grocery store multiple times a week, the fuel cost could be higher than that of a scheduled food kit delivery.

Many delivery services, including Factor and Nutrisystem, offer free or discounted shipping.

Do Meal Kits Impact the Environment and Food Waste?

Deliveries offer a few ways to lower food waste and reduce your carbon footprint.

Companies like Home Chef use sustainable and recyclable packaging. Kits with pre-portioned ingredients save you from buying ingredients in bulk that may expire and end up in the bin.

Every order gives you the perfect amount needed for each meal. This approach minimizes waste and contributes to a more sustainable food supply chain. Food delivery companies like HelloFresh use sustainable farming suppliers to lessen their environmental impact.

How Do Food Kits Save You Time?

Grocery shopping takes more time than ever, and I feel people like me have better things to do than endlessly browsing stores and waiting in queues.

Oven-ready meal delivery services can also cut your cooking time.

Kits provide you with food you can prepare in advance for the whole week. This means no daily chopping and portioning.

However, consider the trade-off between the convenience of meal kits and the experience of cooking from scratch, which you may prefer. While deliveries offer quick and easy meals, they might not provide the same satisfaction that some get from selecting ingredients and cooking from scratch.

» Try these tips to help your picky kids eat healthier.

Cost Breakdown: Meal Kits vs. Individual Groceries

Let's compare the options for a two-person household:

Pricing Option

As you can see, some meal kit delivery options may be more expensive on paper than buying groceries. But they all offer the benefits of convenience, variety, and reduced food waste. Consider these advantages when deciding which option suits your lifestyle and budget.

Prices for these above-mentioned average amounts may vary according to ingredients, fuel prices, and grocery item charges.

Why Choose Meal Kits Instead of Grocery Stores?

In today’s fast-paced world, meal delivery kits have become a convenient alternative to traditional grocery shopping. Here are some reasons why I choose meal delivery kits over groceries:

  • Convenience: Meal kits save you the time and effort of planning, prepping, and cooking. Everything you need is delivered right to your doorstep.
  • Portion control and calorie management: There are many reasons why portion control is important. One motivating factor is to help you manage your calorie intake.
  • Freshness and quality of ingredients: Fresh and high-quality ingredients are used regularly. Many services emphasize organic or locally sourced items, appealing to health-conscious consumers.
  • Fewer impulse purchases: You get exactly what you need for each recipe, reducing impulse shopping. This can lead to savings and less food waste.
  • Culinary skill development: Kits come with step-by-step recipes, making them a great way to develop your cooking techniques. This expands your culinary horizons and adds variety to your diet.
  • Customization options: You can choose meals according to your taste preferences and dietary needs like meat-free and gluten-free foods.

» Want convenient recipes for crispy foods? Check out these air fryer-friendly meals from HelloFresh.

Five Budget-Friendly Meal Delivery Options to Consider

  1. HelloFresh: HelloFresh delivers a family-friendly, calorie-smart menu at an affordable base price of $12.49 per serving. Each box has a recipe card with step-by-step instructions and pre-portioned ingredients.
  2. Sunbasket: Sunbasket offers kits with unique flavor combinations of high-quality produce. They provide nutrient-dense and organic food that their in-house dietitians approve. You can get a meal kit from Sunbasket for $13.99 per serving.
  3. Freshly: Freshly is one of the best vegetarian delivery services. They offer healthy, nutritional versions of classic comfort foods. Your orders arrive fully prepared or ready to be heated in the microwave. Their prices start at $7.99 per serving.
  4. EveryPlate: EveryPlate provides home-cooked meals at a budget-friendly price. For example, plans start at $44.94 for three weekly portions for two people. The food is delicious and easy to prepare, often coming together in under 30 minutes.
  5. Home Chef: Home Chef offers easy-to-cook, customizable options for various dietary needs. Their kits start at $7.99 per serving. Home Chef has a variety of choices, from classic meal kits to convenient Oven-Ready options. They deliver pre-portioned ingredients to your door in an insulated box, ensuring everything stays fresh and delicious.

Make the Cheapest Choice for You

Traditional home-cooking methods fall short of convenience. Rising grocery prices can cost you financially and in other areas. So, many reputable companies have developed meal kit deliveries to try and solve these issues. They help you enjoy quality family time and a manageable budget while catering to various palettes.

Although food kits are a little more expensive than groceries, they save you where you may be feeling a bit stretched.

» Craving simplicity in your routine? Learn more about why you should start meal planning.

Head and shoulders photograph of Anju Mobin
Anju Mobin is a certified nutritionist, Diet and Fitness Consultant at numerous medical clinics, founder and editor of fitnesshacks.org, and a writer for Top10.com. Anju strives to simplify complex information about nutrition, health, and fitness for the general public.

*The information on this site is based on research, but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new diet plan, we recommend consulting with a physician or other professional healthcare provider. Results may vary based on various health factors, individual weight loss plans and adherence to the meal plan.