Does it make financial sense to do home meal delivery? HomeChef Review
As a consumer expert and general all around frugal guy, I wanted to find out for myself how home meal delivery compares to doing it yourself. Home meal delivery is BIG business. It's a 1.5 BILLION dollar industry and is expected to double in the next few years.
There are a bunch of companies out there, about 150. I chose to try out HomeChef over Blue Apron and Hello Fresh because of the generally lower cost and the food isn't as ‘out there' – so I was pretty sure all my kids will like it. They did.
I thought for sure this was going to be way over expensive. This is what I did. I bought the biggest box from Home Chef in the Orlando area which is 3 meals of 4 servings. With a $30 coupon (SAVING30 is the coupon code), I paid $90 for this box. Then I went to two stores, Publix and Walmart to find the same ingredients that I received in the box.
– I scanned every item trying to find sales, and choosing store brand stuff when available. Even gross-looking boxed Walmart egg whites and their messed-up looking red peppers.
– I wasn't able to get fresh shrimp at the Walmart I went to. So, if I really wanted to compare apples to apples, I'd need to go to another store to get the fresh shrimp at a $5 premium.
- Buying these items at either store would take me an hour or more including driving. Walmart was a pain in the butt! I couldn't find anyone to help me find some of the more specialty ingredients. I would never do that again.
- In some cases, I would end up having to buy large bottles/packages of food that would almost certainly result in food waste.
- I was surprised that Publix was cheaper than Walmart. The reason was that they had more options for the ingredients I needed and I was able to find some sale items.
- The difference between my shopping trip and the big box from Home Chef was approximately $15 with the coupon code that I used. Watch my video for the exact details.
Here is why I would NOT replace every meal – or even most meals.
- Cost. It's a nice luxury – but if I shop diligently, I can save more money by doing this myself. I'll probably end up eating more packaged foods than if I were to do this every week – but I'm still on a budget. When I do buy more fresh ingredients on my own, sadly, I end up with food waste if I'm not paying close attention.
As the SavingsAngel, here are my reasons FOR getting a box or two each month from a home meal delivery service:
- Convenience. An hour for every meal or two in running to the store is worth the extra $15 or so. Plus, many of the ingredients are prepared & measured for you. Kinda like having a sous chef in your kitchen to help out. With three kids with crazy busy schedules and mom & dad with crazy busy schedules, this is worth the bit of extra expense.
- It's healthier than a vast majority of meals we end up making. Our family is eating way more fresh produce with the meal kit meals. It inspires healthier options in creative, delicious ways I wouldn't normally go through the effort to find and make. All the meals are about 700 calories or under.
- It's fun. Getting the box delivered is a little exciting. Having higher-quality meals at home brings the family together – being able to have higher quality foods at my own dinner table instead of going out to a restaurant for the good stuff. The recipe cards are easy, they all take 30 minutes or under to make – and so far, every member of my family has enjoyed every meal.
If you are super budget-conscious, maybe consider a small box with a big coupon code. Otherwise, keep using high-value coupons and the biggest sales to feed your family.
For those who can make the time to get to the grocery store, I'd recommend you at least try a couple services once to see if this is something you would continue.
For people who have difficulty in getting to the store because of schedule or geography, I would absolutely recommend you start trying some meal delivery services – especially if you have room in your budget to invest in healthier foods.