Meal-planning kits: Should you bite?


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Many companies now offer ready-to-make meals that are delivered straight to your home. The price tag, however, can be anywhere around $60 a week for a two-person household. Is it worth the price? Or should you skip it altogether? It depends on what your needs are. Answer these six questions to determine if meal kits are right for you.


1. Are you in a cooking rut?

Tired of the same pasta dish every night? Blue Apron promises to never repeat your recipes in the same year. Would you make Black Garlic-Shoyu Ramen on your own? Or Grilled Fontina & Fig Jam Sandwiches? If the answer is no, but you’d like to, then you may want to give it a try.


2. Do you dislike planning your meals?

For some, it may not be worth the effort to determine which recipes to make and then to go out and buy the ingredients. Hello Fresh plans your meals for the week, and sends you every single ingredient you will need, except for olive oil, salt and pepper. Enjoy the pleasure of cooking without having to do any of the annoying bits.


3. Do you want to try something different?

Say you want to try some vegan dishes — be it because you want to give the lifestyle a try or you're simply cutting back on eating meat. The Green Chef will give you the instructions and ingredients you need to make a killer Muhammara Flatbread. Like Southern food? Peach Dish where you can make Roasted Green Beens & Shiitakes with Malabar Spinach or Herbed Hanger Steak with Green Beans, Red Onions & Grits.


4. Are you a good cook?

If you aren’t necessarily good in the kitchen but you’d like to be better, many of these kits provide you with step-by-step instructions and how-to videos. You’ll learn while you’re doing it. Many online testimonials rave about how these kits have boosted their kitchen confidence. And if you prefer not to cook, you can always check out a pre-made meal service such as Freshly, BistroMD, FuelFood (for athletes), or Caveman Chefs (Paleo). Stick them in the microwave, on the stovetop or in the oven and your healthy dinner is done.


5. Do you just like getting stuff in the mail?

Many people who have tried meal services say it feels like Christmas every time they open a box. Try the World offers gourmet teas, cookies and spices from other countries every month that you may have trouble finding on your own. It's a bit cheaper than the bigger meal services at $39 per month. Just like snacks? Try Graze or NatureBox for about $20 per month.


6. Can you afford it?

Can you justify spending around $250 per month on food that shows up at your doorstep? And that’s just if it’s two of you. That number climbs to $350 or $400 if you’re feeding kids, too. You will likely spend more on these services than you will if you go to the grocery store. But the payoff may be worth it because it means eating a healthier variety of food and it may end up being comparable to what you spend if you eat at restaurants or rely heavily on takeout.