Home-delivered fresh dinner kits: How much help do you want with dinner?

There is an old story that cake mixes didn’t take off until manufacturers took out the powdered eggs and let women add their own fresh eggs to the mix. Cracking those eggs allowed women to say they had “made” that cake.

But does the same hold true for dinners? How much help does the home cook want? Where is the sweet spot between getting help with dinner and feeling like you’re cooking for your family?

You know fast food, you know frozen food, you know prepared fresh foods (like rotisserie chicken) and then the stores where you pre-assemble your dinners for the week or month and freeze them.

But now companies such as Blue Apron, Chefday, HelloFresh and Plated are offering similar fresh dinner kits delivered to your home.

From The New York Times:

“Home-delivered food, of course, is not news, and neither is online shopping. Over the last decade, services like Peapod and FreshDirect have accustomed millions of consumers to buying fresh ingredients online, while frozen-dinner delivery businesses like Schwan’s have sold them on fully prepared meals.

“But the dinner kit aims for a sweet spot somewhere between the bunch of asparagus and the finished asparagus-stuffed salmon. And it addresses some paradoxes peculiar to today’s home kitchens: while Americans, fed a steady diet of TV cooking shows and nutritional news, care increasingly about what they eat, many feel too harried to hunt down new recipes and make dinner from scratch. Yet they remain unwilling to live on takeout and heat-and-eat meals alone.

“John Leeman, the director of marketing for FreshDirect, the New York-based company that has become the nation’s largest all-online grocery, said his company’s research shows that while prepared, or “turnkey,” meals are a cornerstone of its business, customers feel uneasy if they do not cook often enough.

“Heating food up night after night is not what a mom does,” Mr. Leeman said one regular customer told him. “ ‘That’s no better than taking them to McDonald’s.’”

Click here to read the full story.

So how do these delivered dinner kits compare price-wise to other options?

According to The Times, home-delivered meal kits run from $7 to $17.50 a serving, more than it would cost to buy the raw ingredients. A precooked version from Schwan’s would run about $6 a serving and from Boston Market about $8.50.

So what do you think: Would you want dinner kits delivered to your home? Have you ever gone to one of those shops to put together meals for a week or a month? Do you regularly use prepared foods from the grocery store or frozen foods?

What level of contribution do you need to feel like you’re “cooking” for your family?

36 comments Add your comment

Grayson Mom

February 13th, 2013
7:27 am

Out of my budget for a home cooked meal! For those prices, I would just eat out and relax!

Wow, two...

February 13th, 2013
7:37 am

…slow days in a row on the mom front…

justmy2cents

February 13th, 2013
8:01 am

Up to $17.50 a SERVING???? I feed my family of 4 dinner for less than that. No thanks on those kits. I work all day and would rather come home and make dinner than waste money on food kits. I use frozen vegetables from the store because I am notorious for deviating from my menu for the week and I hate when I waste fresh vegetables. I avoid the rotisserie chicken most times. It is cheaper to toss a chicken in the crockpot, set it & forget it. The food kits just seem excessively lazy to me.

Mayhem

February 13th, 2013
8:30 am

@Justmy2cents – not lazy, but there are TONS of Moms who simply do not MAKE time to cook. I know several women who refuse to cook, and they take the entire family out to for every single meal. My ex sister in law is one of them. She never cooks. Then she complains how she never has any money….Well, you spent about $1,000 last month in restaurants. I work too hard for my money to throw it away like that. Maybe once a month we may go out, but I don’t like to do that very much. Neither does my husband. When we get home from work, we want to relax, not worry about where we are going to dinner, then have to go back out. No thank you! My kids can cook too.

I love to cook, I have the time to cook. My kids are older, not in sports, etc. and I get home at 4:30…I plan a weekly menu, gather my coupons, and head to the grocery store every Sunday morning. I take my lunch to work every day.

I have numerous cook books, recipe boxes and we love to watch Food Network,. I have a couple of three ring binders with recipes from Ina Garten, Paula Dean, Ann Burell, Melissa d’Arabian, etc.

In our neighborhood, we have dinner swaps. I’ll make a huge pot of chili and deliver to a few neighbors. In turn, they give me some food. One neighbor always gives me ham bones, chicken carcuses, etc and I make soups, chili’s etc from scratch. Another neighbor’s husband travels (he’s gone for months at a time), they have no kids at home, so she doesn’t cook much. I cook for her about 3 times a week.

I don’t much care for crock pot meals……my crock pot very rarely gets used. Last time I used it was christmas eve when I made some hot cocoa and we watched the Christmas recordings on the DVR. I love a good rotisserie chicken, especially Publix’s mojo…..mmmmmm I think I may need to pick one of those up this afternoon…….

mom2alex&max

February 13th, 2013
8:38 am

While I would LOVE to utilize this, those prices are out of the question. For that money, we can go out to eat and not do any work at all!

Techmom

February 13th, 2013
8:39 am

Definitely not worth it in my book! I have wanted to try one of those places where you go prepare your meals for the week but we don’t have one nearby.

I do best when I set a menu for the week and grocery shop on Saturday or Sunday. I always choose easy meals for the days of the week when we’re super busy and have to be out of the house by 6 or 6:30 and plan for eating out at least once. Having a plan and all the ingredients on hand is the biggest time & money saver.

Mother of 2

February 13th, 2013
8:55 am

I’ve never used this service and don’t expect that I will. I fall into the enjoy cooking camp. On the days when I am too busy to cook, I use the crock pot. We are all very healthy and no one is over weight. I figure I must be doing something right :-).

mystery poster

February 13th, 2013
9:02 am

Agreed… out of the question for me.

I had a subscription to emealz that I let expire. Every week, you could log in and get a week’s worth of recipes/menus that were worknight friendly. It also came with a weekly grocery list, making the grocery store much easier.

I’ve seen Groupons where you could subscribe for $30 a year, which I think is worth it.

motherjanegoose

February 13th, 2013
9:02 am

Haha…cooking, to my husband, is putting something in the microwave. My daughter and I tease him about this all the time. He does most of the grilling and has baked a cake perhaps 5 times in the 30 years we have been married. I can count on him for eggs, toast and bacon for breakfast, if I am home on the weekend.

I am with Grayson, I would just as soon eat out but there are only two of us now. If I had to haul everyone out that might be different. Did anyone else see the article on Yahoo about the family who got 10% off of their check total for their children being well behaved in the restaurant? I loved that! I read it while I was in Chicago last week:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/well-behaved-kids-parents-discount-restaurant-article-1.1258467

I have never gone to a shops to put together meals. I have seen several go out of business. I do pick up things at Costco. Their mac and cheese is good…grill some meat and add a salad and we are set, in ap ich. I also loved their stuffed salmon.

My husband left his car keys at work yesterday. He had a last minute interruption and simply forgot. He carpools and they meet at a lot. His carpool friend gave him a ride home, to our house. We then had to go back and get his car ( with the spare key). We got back home at 6:45 and I was thinking of those who walk in the door every night at this time. WOW…I am happy that was/is not my life. I had a nice dinner planned but was not too excited to fix it when I got back home: steak, baked potato, roasted squash, salad, fruit and rolls. My hat is off to those of you who get home this late each night and then tend to your family. I can see where take out might look good!

Mayhem

February 13th, 2013
9:30 am

@MJG – I think the same thing when I get home at 4:30. How do people who work until 6, spend an hour in Atlanta traffic, get home, cook, get the homework done, shuffle to sports, spend QUALITY time with the kids before bed, etc. I’ve been very fortunate to work until 4:00, which puts me home at 4:30, and the best thing…..NO TRAFFIC!!!! 30 minute drive, unless it’s raining, or there’s an accident on the freeway, like last night. Took me 45 minutes to get home…Still not bad…

Becky

February 13th, 2013
9:57 am

Put me in with the ones that love to cook..I cook just about every night, the kids don’t always like it though..I wish that I was one that planned each meal for a week, but I only plan my meals while I’m at work and we talk about whats for dinner that night..

@Mayhem..My late sister in law was the same way about cooking..They were married for 25 yrs. prior to her passing and they ate out every meal, every day.. The first Christmas with my husband, I had a dinner for all of his family (about 30)..Everyone kept telling to not let SIL off to cook anything..I’m thinking, really, she has three (healthy) kids, she has to know how to cook something..Haha..She brought deviled eggs..She boiled them, mashed the yolk up and put it right back in the egg..That was her version of deviled eggs..

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 13th, 2013
9:57 am

Techmom — I have a lot of friends that used those meal places when they first started and liked them. The cost is a lot less than the home delivered — I google searched last night just to see and the intro rate for one place was 18 servings for like $75. that’s more than you would pay at the grocery store but better than the delivered kits.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 13th, 2013
10:00 am

So that’s like $4.10 per serving – you can definitely do for less but maybe to have some quick, go-to meals for desperate nights — —

Michelle

February 13th, 2013
10:01 am

I am one of those moms who does not get home until 6:30 – 7:00 each night and that is leaving at 6:30 in the morning. Yes I see a lot of traffic. With that said I don’t think I would consider using one of those services because of the cost. During the week I try to plan our meal around easy things to fix and leave the creativity to the weekends. My husband gets home a little before I do so he helps by starting the prep work and we both work together to finish. but most nights we are eating at 7:30 and some of my friends wonder why I don’t have the time to go to the gym. Work, traffic, supper, homework, general house duties and it is 9:30 before I am done. .

Mayhem

February 13th, 2013
10:12 am

I make a few meals ahead of time, when I know I have a busy week. I do a LOT of cooking on Sundays, sometimes 3 or 4 different things.

The one constant in my home is Dips…..I make so many dips I could open my own Tapas bar….LOL

Sarah

February 13th, 2013
10:13 am

I’m a huge fan of HelloFresh : ) Love getting our box each week and very relaxing cooking up their feasts. If anyone wants to try them out please us my personal discount code JBQ2UP and you get $20 off!! http://www.hellofresh.com/ Enjoy! : )

Techmom

February 13th, 2013
10:14 am

I do use a menu site calledRelish (relishrelish.com). I like their menus b/c you can choose the number of meals each week and then it customizes your grocery list. I looked at eMealz previously and they didn’t give you the options of which meals and the number of meals, they just gave you the set number and the grocery list. Maybe they’ve improved since then. I do like having a menu site to use- it helps you get out of the “dinner rut” and try some different things without spending hours looking through recipes and cookbooks.

Mayhem

February 13th, 2013
10:16 am

Our favorite is a black bean salsa. I’ll share:

1 can black beans, rinsed & drained;
1 can corn, drained
1 tomato, diced
1 avacado, diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
lemon zest
juice of said lemon
fresh cilantro
1 T olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar

Mix everything in a bowl. Cover and let sit in the fridge for at last an hour to let the flavors “marry”. It’s always better the second day.

Another easy dip:
1 8oz bar cream cheese
1 can Hormel chili w/beans
1C shredded cheese
fresh cilantro

Spread the cream cheese into the bottom of a small backing dish or pie pan. Spread chili over cream cheese. Sprinkle cheese on top. Put in oven for 30 minutes at 350. Sprinkle fresh cilantro on top, serve with chips.

I made the last dip for some friends up at the lake, and we devoured it in less than an hour. SOOOOOOOOOOOO good…..and a crowd favorite.

motherjanegoose

February 13th, 2013
10:44 am

@ Becky…that was funny! We knew someone who called them Devil’s Eggs. She thought that was the title!

@ Mayhem …thanks for sharing. My sister makes a version of that first one and we love it.

@ Michelle…that would wear me out! Good that your husband helps you!

Sarah

February 13th, 2013
10:48 am

I’m a huge fan of HelloFresh : )

Love getting our box each week and very relaxing cooking up their feasts.

If anyone wants to try them out please us my personal discount code JBQ2UP and you get $20 off!!

http://www.hellofresh.com/

Enjoy! : )

RJ

February 13th, 2013
11:21 am

I often stop at Publix and grab a rotissiere chicken. Go home and cook a couple bags of veggies and we have a meal. Works for me. I spend a lot of time at work unfortunately. I try to leave by 3, but many days it’s not possible.

Becky

February 13th, 2013
11:41 am

Thanks Mayhem for sharing..I will make the second dip this weekend…

@MJG..That proved to be a learning lesson for me on her cooking skills..Open a can of pork n beans, heat in microwave and you have “baked beans”..

@RJ..I buy the rotissiere chicken at Sam’s Club and do the same thing, then the next day I take any chicken that is left and make chicken salad with it..

jmb

February 13th, 2013
11:55 am

For a real quick meal I pick up some Zaxby’s chichen fingerz and top our salad for a fried chicken salad. Ten piece is only 7 bucks and will feed 3 topped on salads.

missnadine

February 13th, 2013
12:19 pm

I am a proponent of buying in bulk when items such as chicken breasts go on sale. I often marinate them and them cut put one or 2 portions in freezer bags. There are so many good frozen veggies, some with a mild sauce, that taste great as well. The Foreman grill is pretty decent for a quick fix. i think these ready meals are too expensive.

Zaxby

February 13th, 2013
12:52 pm

@jmb – ever checked the nutrition (or lack thereof) content of those fingerz?

10 Chicken Fingerz (842 cal/40g fat/7g fiber/17g carbs/101g protein/2625mg sodium/7g saturated fat.

40 FAT GRAMS….
2,625mg of SODIUM. (you don’t need more than 1,500 daily)

Herein lies the problem…..it’s quick, easy, just zip through the drive-thru (because a healthy trip to the grocery store is way too time consuming), very convenient for YOU. However, look at what you are feeding your family, at a convenience to YOU.

jmb

February 13th, 2013
12:57 pm

Zaxby, my kids are grown and on their own. If my husband doesn’t like it, he’s welcome to eat just the salad I fix or go without. And FYI, I’ve never had to watch my weight so I really don’t give a hoot about the calories. If I’m going to work till 6 and bring home the $$, best for no one to biatch about it. I’m also a great cook but I’m not going to get home at 7, finish dinner at 8:30, eat and clean the kitchen until 11. Nope, I’ll pick up Zax’s thank you unless you would like to come cook my meals.

jmb

February 13th, 2013
12:59 pm

And by your numbers the fingerz are only 84 cal each so I get a whopping 168 calories with my salad. Oh yeah, I cover it in Ranch dressing and cheese too.

Zaxby

February 13th, 2013
1:16 pm

I worry about your future health. With all that crap you put into your body now, what will happen in 10-15 years????

I’ve never had to worry about my weight either, but I won’t put that crap into my body. I want to live a long healthy active life. Too many people will have issues later in life.

missnadine

February 13th, 2013
1:21 pm

Zaxby – why do you care what she eats?

Zaxby

February 13th, 2013
1:23 pm

Because I’ll be paying for her health care years from now. So will you.

Zaxby

February 13th, 2013
1:25 pm

Fast food (which is neither by the way) is an awful thing to put into your body, aka your temple.

But people justify it, which makes it ok. I don’t have time, I work too late, it’s easier, etc. Years from now, there’s going to be a horrible epidemic of sickly people who didn’t take care of their bodies when they were younger. And unfortunately us healthy people will be paying the costs.

jmb

February 13th, 2013
1:35 pm

Zax, stop all the worry. I’m covered in the insurance dept. In fact, I’m an agent so relax. I cook 90% of the time although I cook a lot of country (unhealthy to you) meals. If you notice I said for a quick meal….geez, the nuts on here amaze me SMH

Mayhem

February 13th, 2013
1:56 pm

I think Zaxby is a little correct. It’s like the smoker who keeps on smoking, because “I’m fine now”. Or the person who doesn’t go to a doctor for YEARS, because “I’m fine now”. Had I not gotten a physical a few years ago (after a friend had a heart attack at 49 years of age), I would have NEVER been diagnosed with high blood pressure, the silent killer. I had no idea I had high blood pressure, as no one in my family has it. Don’t know why I have high blood pressure, I’m a very calm relaxed person.

We all need to think long term, not just right now!!!

And jmb – I’d love to cook for you….but you have to move to my ‘hood…LOL.

jmb

February 13th, 2013
2:09 pm

Mayhem, Zax is a nut!! I’m 5′2, 112 lbs, no meds and 48 years old. I’ve treated my body pretty well for the most part but I really don’t think eating 3 chicken fingerz from Z’s once every 2 months is going to put me on my death bed.

Mayhem

February 13th, 2013
2:16 pm

@jmb – LOL….

BTW I was diagnosed with high blood pressure when I was 49. I’m not quite as small as you, but I’ve keep myself healthy for the most part all these years….I’m in my early 50’s and I go to the doctor twice a year (she only gives me 6 months of BP pills at a time)., and I have a physical every two years.

DB

February 13th, 2013
3:04 pm

Ah, I see the food nazis are out in force: “How COULD you?”

I’ve tried very hard not to join the “But I made it for YOU — if you don’t eat it, you don’t LOVE me” clan that poured so much “love” into food and then made you feel bad for not eating it all up. I should plan our meals better, but with our schedule over the past few years, it has been almost impossible — I will go from cooking for 1 to suddenly cooking for 5 or 6 from week to week, depending on who was in town, whose friends were in town, etc., etc.

I’ve been poking around an interesting site called ZipList.– it polls markets in your areas for coupons, and you can use a small app to save recipes from other sites to this if you wanted to try something this week, for example. You can plan meals, and it will assemble a grocery list, with a little section that says, “You probably have these already, but if you don’t, check here” for seasonings and condiments. You can have it on your phone/tablet, too. I’d like to think I was that organized . . . !