Can a Meal Delivery Service Actually Save You Money?

2020 had many people staying at home as much as possible. Getting a meal delivery service was one way to avoid going out. Is it worth it?This year has been one of the busiest times of my life. Between homeschooling my son, working on my freelance business, playing the drums at church every other weekend, and trying to maintain my mental and physical health, my plate is pretty full. The thought of trying a meal delivery service has crossed my mind.

I’m always looking for ways to save time or get more done with less effort. When it comes to preparing meals, I do enjoy cooking but sometimes it can seem like a chore. From planning out what we’ll eat to going shopping and preparing the meal, I know I can’t keep up with these tasks daily.

You may be wondering if you can save money with a meal delivery service. Or perhaps you’re looking to save time and energy. Here’s what I found out when I looked into the most affordable meal delivery services around right now.

Dinnerly

When you think of meal delivery services, you may or may not have heard of Dinnerly. For me, Blue Apron is one of the most prominent companies but Dinnerly offers a similar plan but at a lower price.

How it works is you sign up and pick your delivery date and the meals you’d like. Then your ingredients arrive in an insulated box. Meals start at around $4.29 per adult-sized serving. Dinnerly is able to keep costs down and still provide quality ingredients by doing things like offering fewer ingredients per dish, digital recipe cards, and simple packaging.

Each week the menu changes, and you can find meal options like creamy ravioli, shawarma-spiced chicken & garlic sauce and over-fried taquitos with salsa and sour cream. Vegetarian meal options are provided as well.

Breaking Down the Costs

You can choose between a 2-person box of meals or a family-size for anywhere from 3 to 6 days per week. The amount per portion decreases as you add more days. As you can see below, getting a family meal box for 3 days per week comes out to $4.99 per serving while increasing it to 5 days per week comes out to $4.49 per serving. Either way, you’re also paying $8.99 in shipping.

Every Plate

Every Plate is another subscription meal kit that is more affordable than most if you’re looking to save money with a meal delivery service. Each week you can choose between 13 different meals and get all the ingredients with directions shipped to your door. They offer meals like stuffed meatloaf, lemon chicken, and honey-glazed pork chops.

One thing I like about Every Plate is that their meals can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. This is perfect for people like me who don’t have a lot of time to prepare meals each night.

Breaking Down the Costs

Whether you choose a meal kit for 2 or 4 people for anywhere from 3 to 5 days per week, the price of $4.99 per serving stays the same. Shipping is $8.99. What I don’t like about Every Plate is that they offer what they call premium meals that will cost you an extra $3.99 per serving. The fact that they claim these meals offer more premium and higher quality ingredients make me wonder what could be lacking with the meal ingredients for the basic plan.

Home Chef

Home Chef is the most expensive meal delivery service out of the three, but they provide the most variety. Home Chef provides healthy meal options and you can choose your dietary preferences whether it’s low carb, vegetarian, low calorie, or 30 minutes or less.

They also have 15-minute meals as well including options like sour cream and onion chicken penne, Hawaiian BBQ pork tacos, and more. You can also customize your meals when you select them each week. This may involve switching out an ingredient adding extra protein so it’s super flexible. Home Chef also has partnerships with Marianos and Kroger so if you don’t want to order meals weekly, you could go there and buy them directly. Options may be limited depending on what the store carries though.

Breaking Down the Costs

Home Chef meals start at around $6.99 per serving the but the cost can change due to any customizations you make. Their shipping costs seem to vary but I checked on other sites and it may start at $6.99 per order.

Can You Save Money with a Meal Delivery Service?

It all depends on how much you were spending on food, to begin with. If you’ve been going through the drive-through and ordering out a lot, you may have already been spending $4.99 per serving or more. If you’re already eating at home a lot, you may not see drastic savings.

Still, meal delivery services have their pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Convenient – pick your meals and get and everything delivered to your door
  • You can usually skip weeks or cancel at any time
  • Some meals are easy and simple to make
  • The ingredients may be of better quality than what you’ll find in stores
  • Most services provide a generous discount or a free week so you can try it out

Cons:

  • Shipping costs can add up – $8.99 per order is $36 per month just to ship your ingredients to you
  • Preparing some of the meals may not save you any time especially if they have tons of steps and ingredients
  • Every Plate does not offer vegetarian options
  • Meal services are exact so this often limits the opportunity to cook extra for leftovers the next day

 Looking for ways to save time or get more done with less effort. Click To Tweet

Alternative Options

If you’re not convinced you can save money with a meal delivery service or still have some reservations, there are other options you can try on your own. Some of those include doing things like:

Creating Your Own Meal Plan

Make a list of everything your family likes to eat including your go-to meals. Use recipe sites and Pinterest to save meal ideas that are easy and affordable to make. Before you know it, you’ll have your own meal plan that you can customize and add to overtime.

Utilizing Free Grocery Pick-up Services

You may not be able to get groceries delivered to your door for free, but you can certainly pick them up at local grocery stores. Consider using Walmart grocery pick-up and other grocery pick-up services so you can order things online and skip the shopping. This may be a similar process to picking out your meals each week with a meal delivery service so you probably won’t lose much time.

Cooking in Batches

Consider preparing meals in batches that way you don’t have to cook every day. Invest in a Crockpot or InstantPot so you can prepare hearty meals and skip a few nights of cooking each week.

Assigning Cook Days to Other Family Members

Even if you love to cook, you can save time by simply asking others to help with preparing meals in your household. I usually have my husband cook a few meals a week. Combining that with batch cooking, I’m not making dinner anywhere near 7 days a week. If you have a roommate or a teen, see if they can take over cooking for a night so you can get a break.

Summary

Depending on your circumstances, you can save money with a meal delivery service but it’s not the only option. There are pros and cons to either decision but you do always have the option to try out one of these services at an extreme discount.

If you’ve never signed up before, you can get up to $80 off your first week with Home Chef and generous first-time discounts with Every Plate and Dinnerly.