The type of food and meal plans offered is definitely one of the deciding factors, as is cost, but there’s another factor that’s playing a bigger role as this trend becomes more and more mainstream: Where are you getting your meals from?
Are you ordering from a national company that ships all over the country, or a local service that delivers to one major city or state?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Read on to find out which factors you should take into account when deciding between a national and local meal delivery service.
How fresh are the ingredients in your meals? Are meals delivered fresh or frozen? The answers to these questions may affect whether you choose a local or national food delivery service. Sure, most national services cook with fresh food, but most do not ship fresh food. And local delivery services, by their very nature, have a much easier time sourcing fresh food because they are in contact with local farms.
Front Porch Pantry, for example, is a statewide Texas meal delivery service, and the company prides itself on using fresh ingredients from local providers. Their meals are also delivered fresh, and they can last in the fridge for 5 days. Of course, you may not want fresh food; you may prefer frozen meals that last in the freezer for months. Your personal preferences can help in your decision-making.
If you really want to know where your food is coming from, local food services are more likely to tell you. Portable Chef in New York City is a local meal delivery service that actually lists the farms it gets food from, creating full transparency between the company and customer. And when the site claims that the ingredients come from small family farms that don’t use pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, you can actually verify that information.
It’s the same old story: Big national businesses underselling local underdogs. Yes, most national meal delivery services are able to offer more competitive pricing than local ones, since local companies are smaller and don’t have all the perks and manpower that national powerhouses do. In some cases, the price range is significant, in other cases, not so. Take a look:
SoCalFresh, a California-based meal delivery service, delivers meals to San Diego County, Riverside County, and Orange County. Its non-specialized meal plan costs $129 for 10 meals. KitchFix, a Chicago-based service, offers 10 meals for about $130.
Now let’s go national—Freshly, a countrywide service that creates healthy, gluten-free meals, offers 12 meals for $107.99/week, and Veestro offers 10 meals for $117.
Here’s a chart so you can actually see the price difference. While it’s not much, it’s still there.
We’ll just include one more caveat before you make your decision: Remember the shipping. While many national services offer free shipping, local ones usually do not. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule in both directions, but whether you go local or national, just remember that shipping can easily tack on another $10-$20 or more.
Meal Plans and Menus
Do national meal delivery services offer more varied menus than local ones? Typically not. You can easily find both high-quality and high-quantity meals at national and local levels. But while most local meal deliverers do place a strong emphasis on health and nutrition, they can’t usually compete with the nationals when it comes to offering specialized meal plans, like keto, paleo, vegan, etc.
Green Chef, for example, is a national meal kit delivery service that offers 7 meal plans: Vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, keto, omnivore, and carnivore. BistroMD, another national meal delivery service, offers a diabetic plan, gluten-free plan, and even a menopausal women plan! Local services do not typically include these offerings.
However, that’s not to say that you can’t find any special menu plans at local services; Wholesome2Go is a Los Angeles-serving meal delivery business that offers 2 general plans and also a sugar detox, not something you see everywhere. And Metabolic Meals, serving the Washington area, offers a weight loss plan and family plan, also not something to take for granted!
There is definitely a feeling of more-accessible customer service from local meal delivery services than from national ones. However, while the feeling might be there, in actuality that’s not always the case. When it comes to customer service, it really depends on the company, regardless of the geographical area it serves.
The only thing that might be more reliable when it comes to local services are the reviews. When reading reviews of the big companies, you never know if they’re actually written by real people. But with local companies, there’s a better chance that if there are reviews on the site, they’re from people who actually exist.
So What’s the Bottom Line—National or Local?
The bottom line is, there’s no bottom line. It’s impossible to say that national meal delivery services are better across the board, and the same goes for local ones. Rather, the real deciding factor is you—is there a local service you love, or do you want to try out one of the big ones and see what the hype is all about? Chances are, whatever you choose, you’ll be delighted to get chef-crafted, nutritious meals delivered right to your home.