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Are Mail-Order Meal Kits Doomed? (eater.com)
125 points by prostoalex 25 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 180 comments

I've tried 3 services now, and what they all seem to not get is that they are not selling food. I can get food in the local supermarket. They are selling convenience and peace of mind. Whats the difference? The difference is that if you screw up my order 2-3 times, then I will quit your service and never look back. Sure you deliver food to my door most the time, but you are not providing convenience and peace of mind.

I have never had the issue where going to the supermarket to shop for dinner unknowingly left me without crucial ingredients or return boxes crowding my driveway. I have never had the issue where a supermarket sneaks shellfish into my order even though I am allergic and explicitly did not want shellfish when I entered the supermarket. The tolerances on these services are just much much harder than a brick and mortar store and it feels like none of them take it seriously at all. You need to provide near 98% for every single customer or they eventually drop off as they lose patience with you and switch service, and after a couple they just don't want to bother any more.

Additionally, the dependency on last mile shipping companies which by and large are awful means that some problems will never be entirely under their control.

I used BlueApron for several months, but then the last mile delivery company stopped dropping the package at my door and instead began leaving it in my apartment's mail room, which doesn't notify me when I have a package and closes overnight. That + some growing concerns over food safety (esp around their meat) lead to me dropping and giving up on them.

What'd you switch to instead?

I'm assuming they just went back to B&M groceries.

Same experience here. Every single service will credit you for mistakes but it only takes one or two mistakes before the convenience factor is destroyed.

I’ve had the core ingredient missing from my boxes before. As in, the core ingredient is in the recipe name!

I also found the produce quality to be hit or miss. Spinach especially was regularly too wet and thus spoiled before I even had a chance to use it. That never happens to me with store bought produce.

The ecological impact also started to wear on me. I felt gross with the amount of plastic I was throwing out.

> The ecological impact also started to wear on me. I felt gross with the amount of plastic I was throwing out.

That was by far my biggest concern. I'm not very environmentally conscious, but this was just too much.

A lot of people here are saying "plastic trash."

Are plastics not recycled in the U.S.? Of course, eliminating them is way better than any form of recycling, but I'm fixated on the use of "trash" to qualify plastic refuse.

Even if they are recycled, it’s still an enormous waste of energy.

I mean: they package 2 strands of thyme in a tiny little plastic bag. They have these tiny plastic boxes with a spoonful of sauce.

No recycling program is capable of reusing that kind of stuff efficiently and even if they could, it’s still simply an unnecessary luxury.

There is a lot of evidence that even the "recyclable" plastic is not truly recycled. And there are varying degrees of recyclability based on the type of plastic. And as you would imagine, the worst plastic for recycle is often used because it's cheaper to produce. Paper is almost always going to be better than plastic anyway, but obviously costs more.

The original article kind of hinted at the absurdity of these meal kits -- it's no joke, you literally receive a single scallion in a long plastic bag. So that bag has really no use to you outside of holding a scallion.

The more I read about recycling, at least in the U.S., it feels like it's a grand scheme to make us ignore the amount of trash we create/consume instead of simply using materials that are better for the environment.

Plastic recycling is partially a myth. It's not just a US problem.


>Are plastics not recycled in the U.S.?

You may want to look into what specifically is recycled wherever you are. I'm in Australia and recently discovered that much of the plastic that I have been putting in the recycling bins are not actually recycled. Lots of kinds of plastic are theoretically recyclable however in practice only a few specific types of plastic are actually recycled.

Check out https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/national-sword/, an incredibly insightful look into how recycling works in the US.

Many places in the US do not offer recycling pickup at all. I live very near a major metro area and the only recycling pickup available for us is cardboard. This is the first place I've ever lived that offers any sort of recycling pickup whatsoever. I've only ever noticed this problem in Southern states, however.

Pretty much not. Plastic may be collected as recyclable, but there's really no market for it. It mostly goes to landfills.

Reduce, reuse and recycle. The 3 R's stand in order of what is more impactful to counter environmental change, so just reduce the amount of unnecessary plastic instead of thinking about the end of the lifecycle.

Less and less plastic is being recycled every year in the USA.

I wish that there was a meal kit service without the meal kit. Provide curated recipes for X days a week and add the necessary ingredients directly to my Walmart grocery pickup or Amazon foods order or whatever. Would eliminate a lot of waste and shipping issues and give me all of what I like about meal kits.

Check out my service Eat This Much (https://www.eatthismuch.com)

It’s pretty much what you describe, and we offer instacart and amazon fresh integration.

Since we have a big emphasis on hitting your nutrition targets, it’s a bit tough to guarantee you’ll love the first meal plan we generate for you. It takes a bit of refreshing meals to get everything perfect for your tastes, and it’s definitely the #1 thing we’re working on improving.

Hey! This is yours?

Huge fan for a long time. The app actualy solves problems verses just a fancy design or a wish for how things should be.


Glad to hear it! I started it a bunch of years ago as a side project, and now we have a small team working on it. Still a lot of work to do before it's as useful as we want it to be :)

Part of this exists. There are some recipe sites that have an instacart button to add the ingredients to your grocery order.

yeah the messing up of orders was a big one for me.

I quit Blue Apron for a few reasons.

   1. My plastic trash output doubled overnight when I signed up.
   2. Excessive amounts of carrots and other "cheap, but filling" substances.
   3. My life doesn't need another subscription service to think about and manage.
   4. Going to the store once a week isn't that much of a hassle, the food quality is higher, and it's cheaper.
Edit: The variety was nice though. Trying something different every time was an adventure, though most nights I wasn't feeling adventurous. Most nights, I didn't really feel like cooking something I may or may not like.

>> Going to the store once a week isn't that much of a hassle, the food quality is higher, and it's cheaper.

Not sure how common my take is, but not only is going to a store not a hassle -- going to a grocery store is an absolute pleasure. It is a timeboxed task with a sense of accomplishment at the end that takes me away from my computer and gives me exercise (I usually walk.) I tend to do 2x a week to break up the task and do it more often because I like it. Shorter cycles also helps with freshness and error correction.

Agree 100%. I don't use grocery delivery or meal kits and it's not because of cost or food spoilage or inaccurate orders. I don't use them because going to a brick and mortar grocery store is awesome. My kids really love going to the grocery store. They haven't yet been conditioned to believe that they should be embarrassed of or bored by certain activities. For them, it's an exciting opportunity for discovery. They're delighted by new products they haven't seen before.

I can't remember the exact statistics, but the vast majority of people prefer b&m grocery shopping. In many cities and towns across America, the most fun thing you can do each week is to go to the Walmart and shop. It's a social experience. It engages all your senses. It's fun. I believe that's partly why brick and mortar grocery purchases are still around 97% of total grocery sales despite grocery delivery services being available for over two decades.

I imagine at some point in the future, someone clever will figure out a way to replicate the in-store experience online, but there's nothing that's even close right now (sorry AR/VR).

> I don't use them because going to a brick and mortar grocery store is awesome.

I agree with you, but the meal order kits, at least to me, doesn't solve "going to the grocery store".

They solve the issue of too much choice and too little time to make a decision. That push us to just try to same usual meals. At least with meal kits, not only you try new stuff, that you may have no tried for many reason (Does my supermarket carry this ingredient? Do I have it already in my pantry? Will I need to buy 10x too much of it to try this meal that I may not like?), but you also do it quickly.

I remember when I tried Goodfood late last year, there was a recipe I was interested in, but it was from their "family" meal plan. I still wanted to do it, so a month ago I went to get the recipe. I couldn't find a few of the spices at my local supermarket and it required a little bit of Sherry Vinegar, which sure isn't expensive and may be used in the future, but it's still way more than I need and will go to waste if I don't reuse it/like it.

I'm going to try a service that someone made in this thread, Eat This Much, and I'll see if it's works too, but I feel like it's not enough and many of theses issues will come up.

I still haven't closed my account over Goodfood, I still plan to order a few meals from time to time, to add recipes to my usual meals list. I feel like that's the kind of usage that make sense. Sure it's more expensive, sure the shipping require more waste, but it doesn't hurt if it just happens from time to time and maybe my Sherry Vinegar that I may waste in the long run isn't much different either.

Agreed twice a week. I purchase two dinner meals each trip along with other items. I eat out the other 3 days. I can load up my large back pack and a few reusable bags and I am easily able to carry everything.

I really don't mind grocery stores and I've never understood the meals thing. But I'm also a pretty boring millenial on my s6 and 17" massive laptop. So who knows.

I don't disagree that —if situation permits— grocery shopping can be a good levelling exercise, to step out of oneself and (eg) compare the price of various things at different quantities...

But context is important. A lot of people can't drop everything while they're shopping. If you're rushing, don't know what you want or have a furious toddler in tow, the experience suffers significantly.

That all said, I'm surprised so many people have to turn to Blue Apron (et al) just because shopping isn't convenient for them. Don't your shops offer online services? In the UK, all the major supermarkets offer delivery and collection services at minimal cost. If you buy the same thing every week, you can reduce the total exercise to just a few minutes of engagement time.

Totally agree, and I don't know why more people don't say this. I actually enjoy going and looking at the food I'm going to buy. Most stores have nice extras like coffee shops and small cafes that can turn the 'chore' into a nice outing.

Most people don't say it because most people don't feel that way.

Not sure where the mystery is.

The non-bot interpretation of the comment you replied would be that he/she was wondering why more people don't feel that way.

Do we really need deep discussions explaining why people have different preferences in life?

I'm sure there are people who wonder why the OP doesn't enjoy spending time shopping for clothes.

Most supermarkets in America do not have nice cafes.

Most people go to a cafe if they want to go to a cafe, they don't go to a supermarket.

Many people have to drag kids along and keep them under control when grocery shopping.

It is a repetitive task.

For most people there is no creativity or joy in it.

Most people do not live within walking distance of their supermarket.

Most people wouldn't walk there anyway, since they are shopping for a family of three or four.

Most people don't see it as a break from other things, they see it as one more thing that has to be fit into a busy weekend (or even worse, an evening after work).

And many more.

Really the entire subthread reads like yuppie single men wondering why other people don't have the same preferences they do and being completely unable to figure it out.

> Excessive amounts of carrots and other "cheap, but filling" substances.

This is why I hate potatoes soo much. There are wayyy too many restaurants that depend on potatoes for margin.

What kind of restaurants are you thinking of?

I've never eaten in a restaurant and thought they're bulking on potatoes.

I find restaurants steer very clear of potatoes because they don't have any wow factor, and with the volume of food that goes to waste in most restaurants to produce a perfect little plate are they really worried about how much the raw materials are costing them?

Plenty of places in the US will happily drop 500+ calories of french fries on a plate of food. Granted that is mostly limited to "American" food.

There are other equivalents; Cantonese places will try to load up on bean sprouts to boost the weight of the dish.

> to boost the weight of the dish

This claim doesn't make any sense. Who buys restaurant dishes by weight?

I misspoke and meant to say volume.

That being said, you can buy some Cantonese food by weight: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siu_yuk

Although weight may still have some validity in terms of making you feel full and satisfied.

There's a buffet near where I work that sells by weight.

Steakhouses. Any place that primarily serves Sandwiches/Burgers and fries.

Pretty sure those places also feature potatoes heavily because people like to eat them with those entrees.

I know I love mashed potatoes with my steak. And fries with my burger.

I can't read your list on mobile

Is HN ever going to fix this issue? It's really obnoxious, and feels like it could be fixed with a stylesheet change.

You really shouln't use the fixed width style for lists, it's basically only useful for code.

instead you can just make a list with normal paragraphs so that lines can wrap normally.

1. Item One Das Handelsgericht Zürich hat in einem Massnahmeverfahren der Raiffeisen Schweiz gegen Inside Paradeplatz und Lukas Hässig entschieden, dass der Artikel eines anonymen Autors vom 20. August 2018 zu löschen sei.

2. Item two Das Handelsgericht hat festgehalten, dass nicht klar sei, ob unter den gegebenen Umständen der Text wirklich wie behauptet von einem ehemaligen Kadermann der Bank stamme.

3. Item three Inside Paradeplatz und Lukas Hässig wie auch Raiffeisen Schweiz akzeptieren diesen Entscheid.

Code also ought to be readable on mobile. Doing so will admittedly always be a compromise, but what we have now is very far from ideal.

Nobody uses the code tag for code. Seriously.


Agreed. It is beyond me why the admins refuse to change a couple of lines of CSS, when this is an issue that has been raised again and again by the community.

They can be pretty stubborn. When they added the [-] next to comments, everybody told them, on day 1, that it made no sense to have it on the right side and it would be easier to minimize comments on the left side. They did nothing.

Quoting brink (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19258804) to help others on mobile:

1. My plastic trash output doubled overnight when I signed up.

2. Excessive amounts of carrots and other "cheap, but filling" substances.

3. My life doesn't need another subscription service to think about and manage.

4. Going to the store once a week isn't that much of a hassle, the food quality is higher, and it's cheaper.

> That’s where making one-off meal kits available at retail locations like grocery stores and membership clubs comes in; according to Seifer, moving beyond the mail-order subscription model seems pivotal to meal kits’ long-term viability.

This is the money quote. The people who subscribe to these things and figure out cooking is not hard and just requires a bit of initial guidance are almost certainly going to keep recipes and do their own shopping. And now that it's proven viable and so many supermarkets deliver groceries, they're going to swoop in and eat mail-order kits' collective lunches.

I have long thought that there is an opening for local grocery stores to take a lot of this market. Many of my local supermarkets (HyVee, Walmart) allow for online ordering, but they all require the user to input items one-by-one. If they added a feature to add entire recipes in a single click, I think they would do very well for themselves. The additional cost of adding a recipe card would be negligible.

The customer's cost isn't increased over regular online ordering, and there isn't the issue of increased packaging. The food is fresh from the local supermarket and doesn't have to be shipped, beyond at most a local delivery.

Both of my local grocers, King Soopers and Safeway, have meal kits on gondolas right when you walk into the store, even before the flowers. Since beer just became legal to sell in grocers statewide, they even have suggestions for the beer to drink with your meal kit. They also do delivery now too, online or by phone. I constantly see employees going down isles with those plastic boxes, filling out orders via those globby Amazon-warehouse style scanners. They'll pick out the good stuff too, I've seen a few employees putting produce back on the bins if they find some small defect. Those Safeway employees are also unionized, the pay and benefits are alright for the work.

I've no idea how you could possibly compete with that level of ease, service, and selection. I'd not go long on BlueApron et al. I mean, Munchery just closed out of the blue the other month. They all are on the gallows block.

"I have long thought that there is an opening for local grocery stores to take a lot of this market."

I have talked with a local specialty supermarket owner about this, and basically it's too expensive to do at small scale.

For large supermarkets you would think that it would work, but it turns out it's just not that useful overall. Albert Heijn in the Netherlands has had the beginnings of this for decades: small cards at the entrance of a shop with recipes, a selection of 12-15 that rotates weekly. They have a (monthly or bimonthly?) magazine with recipes. Since a few years you can order online (either for delivery or pickup) and you can put all ingredients for a recipe in your shopping basket with one click (from the website, from the mobile version of the magazine, everywhere you can think of). They have an app that syncs with your account so that you can use it as an in-shop shopping list (i.e. no more printing). They have functionality that shows you the optimal path through the store, given a set of things you want to buy. All things of which I thought 10 years ago 'if only they would add this, I would do all my shopping there!'. But now it's 2019 and it turns out that after the novelty wears off (2 weeks?), all that just doesn't matter as much as you would think it would.

Hy-Vee has Blue Apron-style meal kits in most stores now:


They're also opening up Hy-Vee Fast and Fresh stores, which are smaller locations built around these and other premade heat-and-server dinners (Chinese food, sushi, enchiladas).

Ocado has been doing it for a while, although obviously you have to create the recipe for the first time because they can’t read your mind to know for how many people you’re cooking. Also I’m always baffled reading this kind of discussions and seeing that there are actually many people that use these meal services that for me are the archetype of useless..

This is the way I make my weekly grocery list. Add a recipe for each night from the list of recipes I've previously entered and those ingredients go onto the list. Translating those ingredients to items to be picked up in the store doesn't seem like that far of a leap ("cheese" --> "Daiya Pepperjack, 8oz")

H-E-B does exactly this in Texas. They have packed-daily boxes for $12 - $30 depending on the serving size.

H-E-B is a truly remarkable grocery phenomenon that I can't really quite describe, and I was hoping to see someone mention it here.

But also, yes their packaged dinner meals have saved several of my nights as a night-owl student at Baylor, studying for hours and looking up to realize it's suddenly 1am and everything's closed.

H-E-B: similar quality and better prices than Whole Foods on specialty items, similar prices and better quality than Walmart on commodities. Consistently good groceries, physically and financially accessible by just about everyone in Central Texas.

I Thought it was a statewide story not just localized to Centex?

> If they added a feature to add entire recipes in a single click, I think they would do very well for themselves.

German recipe website Chefkoch.de uses Whisk to do exactly this.

I use one of these services because I find myself less likely to order in when I have fewer decisions to make about dinner. I don't mind cooking at the end of the work day, but I hate having to decide what to cook and try to figure out whether there's anything I need to buy in order to make it.

I'd be happy to buy kits from a supermarket rather than by mail though, if they were able to stock a good selection.

Just wait until these people discover that these "recipes" are available in things called "cookbooks" that they can purchase without subscribing to a meal service.

Recipe curation is a genuinely hard problem. I often go diving into cookbooks for recipes, and I've noticed that in general I will try 2-3 recipes for each one I might add to my repertoire. I think cookbooks are often just making stuff up to fill pages, and as a result the many of the recipes are just mediocre, with a few good ones sprinkled in.

Serious recommendation - trash recipe books, unless you're interested in recreating a specific kind of flavor.

Then, learn about proper ratios. (Best book I've found so far is "Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking"). And then get yourself a copy of the flavor bible, which makes it easy to create excellent flavor combinations. You're set for life.

(You might at some point add cooking chemistry into the mix, too. But the point is, learn to make recipes yourself, so you know they're tailored to what you like. Instead of having to try them one by one)

That's great advice, but I'd like to add another consideration: cooking advice is often specific to cultural context. I can't speak for your specific recommendations because I haven't read them, but other books in the category do have this issue.

I primarily cook Chinese food, and as a result general technique guidance coming from Western techniques tends to work to the extent that green beans are green beans, but tends to translate imperfectly to the extent that a cast iron skillet is not a wok, dumpling dough and pasta dough are made differently and handled differently, etc.

As a result, I sort of have two different kitchens in my kitchen, there's a set of tools, ingredients, and techniques for Chinese food (and often other Asian cuisines), and there's a set of tools, ingredients, and techniques for when I make Western dishes.

Great thread. I'm going to use this as an opportunity to plug Serious Eats (no affiliation, just a satisfied reader). The editor is an MIT trained chemist who also is incredible at cooking, and the recipes not only always just work, but the reason why they work gastronomically is always spelled out in very clear detail.

Outside of that, I generally have the same issue with cooking ethnic cuisine. The specialized equipment is different, it's challenging (and crucial) to get specialty ingredients, new techniques need to be learned. But, most importantly, you have to know how it's supposed to taste, otherwise it's impossible to approach cooking it properly. I was never able to make a proper mapo tofu until I had my first really really good one and realized what I was missing (good Szechuan peppercorns).

I can't remember the last time I actually cooked using a recipe. The only thing I use them for these days is a quick glance at the general ingredients in a dish for something i've never made before, or any special cooking instructions.

Cooking is more about knowing the properties and flavours of your ingredients and knowing which work well together. Once you know that, you can make pretty much anything.

Baking though i'd say is an exception. The ratios of ingredients and the orser you combine and the methods you use are fairly important to get exact. Baking is a lot like chemistry.

I've also been lucky enough to have a copy of this book lying around.


I wouldn't necessarily recommend it unless you want to work in a kitchen, but it's pretty awesome.

I would also recommend Niki Segnit's Lateral Cooking which aims to teach you how recipes associate with one another. So you just remember core ratios and what adjustments have to be made get other dishes. It's a very lazy-hacker way of approaching cooking that a lot of technical people will enjoy.

There's a huge difference between recipe collections, which are usually just glossy gimmick-y celebrity-endorsed and useless, and actual cookbooks, which teach you how to cook.

A cookbook will have a section on "how to prepare piece of meat X", what to think about when preparing that piece, and then some recipes centered on that piece, at different levels of work and difficulty. That shows you what directions you can take that ingredient in, what it's good for, and how to make variations on the same base ingredient.

Recipe collections never do this, everything is presented as a done deal. Here's the recipe, follow the recipe exactly. There are no connections, no progression, no explanations, no substitutions, and in the end, recipe collections never teach you how to cook.

So I'm not surprised you have issues with recipe collections. They are useless, and I wish more people knew the difference between those and real cookbooks.

These two books have nothing but good recipes. The Food Lab also explains why to cook something a certain way. My food is so much better after buying these two books.



I'd be willing to bet that a lot of the people who jump into these things never really had a parent who cooked, or if they did were never really all that interested in learning until later in life and these kits may have helped them along in that regard.

This isn't meant to be passing judgement on anyone, btw, just an observation in general of how people seem to progress from these things. Either they do their own shopping and learn to cook for real, or they go back to mostly eating out.

A year of Blue Apron elevated my cooking game from zero to quite good actually. Now that I've learned some technique, I prefer buying groceries instead of getting the ridiculous single serve vinegar/ketchup/mayo bottles and not-quite-as-fresh protein they send you.

I feel this is the real curse for these meal services: the customers they're most successful with will get better at cooking fairly quickly and eventually start shopping for themselves.

Businesses can certainly work servicing customers who graduate from needing them. Think, well, universities. Or dating services. Or anything catering to a particular age group. But the churn economics need to work.

That's not really the point. Shopping for a dozen individual ingredients for a recipe is time consuming, and is one reason why people are more inclined to try these meal kit boxes. Selling a pre-packaged meal kit in a store still keeps the time-saving benefits, and removes the shipping difficulty.

Usually those dozen ingredients are things like spices which you might only buy once every 6 months+ (so next time you make that recipe there are only 4 ingredients) or they're staples (flour, pasta) or fresh consumables which are shared between many recipes (onion, garlic, cheese). So if you're cooking at home a lot your grocery list is often the same thing every time plus a few odd items periodically even if you make different things every week.

the main thing that meal kit services did for me was automate shopping and variety. Now I use a non-kit shopping list/recipe service that lets me pick from a recipe list at the beginning of the week and puts a shopping list together for me, and shop once a week. We have very little food waste (compared to shopping for ingredients then needing to fit them into a recipe) and it's very time-efficient (compared to choosing recipes and manually compiling a shopping list from recipes in a cookbook).

...and then they discover they can get "recipes" from any number of "websites", for free, and without even buying a cookbook!

It's clear you don't understand the value people find in the service.

Personally what I'd like to see is speciality ingredients. Stuff that isn't normally sold in my region and if I order those ingredients online they I would need to spend way more because they aren't sold in small amounts.

But instead when I look at these services it's almost all ingredients you can get at almost any US grocery store.

I'm an avid cook and a regular grocery shopper but I also get meals occasionally from a couple of services here in Canada. Getting together all of the ingredients for a meal -- many of which can only be bought in quantity, but might only be needed in very small amounts -- is much more of a nuisance and expensive than many estimate. And in the end the meal kit costs me around $40CAD for a 4 serving meal which is entirely reasonable.

Which is why I think these services are doomed. I don't see how they can do it as inexpensively as they do. Really it's a remarkable value.

And to many of the comments, one of the services here now has a selection of meals each week that are only available if you pick it up at a large grocery chain, that partnership being presumably how they're trying to reduce costs.

The Safeway near my house started selling Plated meal boxes and I love it! They're cheaper than the ones in the mail (by $1-2) and I don't have to worry about when they will arrive and if they'll spoil on the doorstep because I left town or something.

I don't know why the grocery stores don't just make their own boxes though.

Perhaps getting kids through the first six weeks of living on their own isn't such a bad business model. Not necessarily unicorn material, but it could sustain a modest business. There will always be a supply of new customers. The service could teach them a bit of home economics and ease them into home cooking.

Grocery stores could also put on cooking classes. Bring in a local chef and it’s also a good way to meet people, could make it a singles night.

If you'd be interested, this is very much already a thing. I'll bet you your local fancy grocery store has a big calendar on its wall advertising exactly this.

I'll have to look out for this, thanks. I know my local fancy market has friday evening wine tastings, but I've never seen anything like this for cooking.

And I know group cooking classes exist, but I've just never seen it as part of the grocery store offering or something they publicize.

Where do they find the space to do something like this? They typically try to use their space judiciously to have as much product on thd floor as possible.

Guess around slow times they could rearrange certain areas, like the delikatessen/hot food/bakery areas.

A lot of grocery stores have kitchens inside of them, especially the larger ones, so maybe that is a possibility? Could easily start off small to gauge interest before expanding. Or you could market the product inside of grocery stores, but do the actual cooking at the local chef's restaurant?

Or yep like you said, rearrange some areas temporarily during off-hours.

My wife & I used to use some of these services, but switched over to the following process:

1. cookinglightdiet.com for recipe ideas & meal planning. They are typically quick, simple, and healthy recipes. Costs $4 / mo

2. Generate shopping list on that site.

3. Populate my shopping cart on the grocery store's site - we go to Ralph's typically. Pick a time to get the groceries. That service of theirs is called Clicklist.

4. Pick up groceries at the designated time ($8 fee).

Picking meals is easy, generating the shopping list & filling the cart takes a little bit of time, picking the groceries up takes minutes (way better than spending an hour and a half searching for ingredients yourself). It's like normal grocery shopping some of the perks & convenience of meal kit services. Credit to my wife for coming up with all of this.

My only fear is that the podcast market will also collapse without their advertising money.

I just heard an ad for "the world's first subscription electric toothbrush". Just startup fee cost more than a Braun one.

There's still lots of dumb VC money to advertise on podcasts left even without the food boxes.

They could still rely on Squarespace and Stamps.com to fill that void.

MeUndies and Shari's Berries will have to step it up

Probably. Meal kits may become available in supermarkets, though. They have a big advantage - a cold chain. They can keep something cold from the plant that made it to the moment the user takes it out of the cold case. The mail order people can't do that.

The Doordash/Uber/etc crowd can't even keep things warm.

It kinda boggles my mind why the big supermarket chains aren't all over this!?! (I'm looking at you Loblaw)

The service I'd like would either deliver or pickup 2-3 pre-measured ready-to-prep meals in re-useable containers (i.e. glass/stainless that I return to them for re-use).

In large urban centres already serviced by a big grocer this would seem to be such a great way to lock consumers into their product!

One of the Kroger stores near me has meal kits next to the salad bar.

I really think Kroger should just release recipes to their ClickList service. Why limit it to 5-6 pre-packaged meals with dubious produce selections visible through the plastic.

Safeway bought Plated for that reason

I’m seeing a lot of the negatives of meal kits here, but let me counter with my experience. I have little kids, and delivery meal kits are great for us. Shopping with a toddler and an infant is HARD. The cognitive load of keeping food stocked is hard. With a meal kit subscription, it’s set and forget, I can always be sure that I have at least 3 solid meals for that week with fresh food. It takes half of the thinking and shopping and automates it.

I also don’t think it’s interesting long term. It may be interesting to learn cooking but once you know a little you see quickly that going shopping is not that hard. I want either ready made foods or cook from scratch but not this weird thing in the middle.

Is this the “uncanny valley” of food preparation? Almost looks like it but not close enough.

>once you know a little you see quickly that going shopping is not that hard

Planning meals is still a somewhat significant cognitive load. I think that's the value proposition here. Getting a bunch of single meal portions is convenient, but not really any better than getting groceries delivered. It's not having to go through the process of finding recipes and then generating a shopping list that's the killer feature.

I think the ideal thing is the ability to click and say I want to make these four meals this week. It adds a list of perishables (meat, veggies, etc.) to my cart and a spits out a list of staples (spices, flour, soy sauce, etc.) for me to check to see if I have. Then I either have it delivered or it can print me out a shopping list.

I use this app [1] which does exactly what your describing. Even splits up the shopping list into "produce section", "inner aisles", "frozen" so you can segment your shopping. The app has some quirks but overall it's really great.


Maybe I'm just a curmudgeon but I won't consider something that's app only with no website when it should just be a website anyhow.

I hear ya. I called it an app but most things (everything?) in the app is also on the website. Like for actually cooking a recipe I pull it up on my laptop. When editing a grocery list my wife and I finalize it on the laptop and I use the app on my phone to check things off.

Ah, I guess they make you sign up then before showing anything on the website.

Yeah, this is true

In addition to the apps people mention, old school ways work pretty well once you get into cooking. Just have a binder of your standbys. You could even have a section specifically for quick weekday meals.

I have a shelf-ful of cookbooks but a good chunk of my cooking is some variant of what’s in my day to day binder.

That does sound like a great idea. You could even add some automated optimisation recipe suggestions: “if you add these two ingredients to your basket, you could use the leftover vegetables from recipe A to also make recipe B”

"I think the ideal thing is the ability to click and say I want to make these four meals this week. It adds a list of perishables (meat, veggies, etc.) to my cart and a spits out a list of staples (spices, flour, soy sauce, etc.) for me to check to see if I have. Then I either have it delivered or it can print me out a shopping list. "

I would like that too. For this a "smart fridge" would actually make sense if it could check what you have already.

Check out https://www.eatthismuch.com. Does exactly what you're describing, and it's brilliant. I picked it up last year, I couldn't believe it existed.

This is neat, but it misses the mark by quite a bit. In no particular order:

(1) I don't want randomly chosen dishes. I want meals where the side dishes compliment the main

(2) I want something more curated and well thought out. Some variety throughout the week and dishes that are less perishable. Like I want to make a fish dish as soon as I get the fish but a pasta dish can wait 3-4 days after my order.

(3) The filter choices are odd. I can't say "chicken and fish only" but I can do mediterranean? And I question how much "Cheesy Chicken and Spinach" and "Buttered toast" are mediterranean.

(4) The recipe filter is broken too. I tried to filter for main dishes and my first two choices are "Rice cake with Strawberry Ricotta and Honey" and "Grilled Peaches with Honey"

Thanks for the feedback! All definitely things we need to improve on. We try to make things easy to edit/reorganize for places where our algorithms don't do an awesome job (like getting your fish earlier in the week), and it's definitely less than ideal. Our goal is to get it to the point where you can reliably just buy all the ingredients without needing to review the plan, and just have it auto-order your week's groceries the same way you might leave Blue Apron on auto-pilot.

A lot of other meal planners will have more curated/appealing meal combinations, but also only serve a few different generic nutrition constraints. We'd like to keep the nutrition targets as flexible as possible, which requires a much wider search space on what goes in a meal. One approach we could try is allowing fractional servings on your recipes, but then you'd never be able to escape measuring specific amounts for each meal/recipe, and we think there's a decent amount of amount of value in keeping the servings simpler so you can eventually recall them from memory and not rely on the meal plan. Hopefully we can get the best of both worlds sooner than later.

Ideally I would like to feed my own recipes into the system. Or even better, have recipe sites use a shared data format for their recipes. We could call it "RecipeML" or "RecipSON".

> Or even better, have recipe sites use a shared data format for their recipes. We could call it "RecipeML" or "RecipSON".


MealLime might be what you're looking for, I think you can add your own recipes but I haven't tried it https://www.mealime.com/

This looks very promising. The only thing missing off my list is integration with online ordering.

All of the ones I tried had a significant drawback - they somewhat forced your selection by grouping meals together, or restricting choice otherwise.

Which... no thanks. There are foods I don't like, and I won't buy them just because you need to get rid of your supplies.

Meanwhile, I'm very happy with freshly - no cooking except "microwave for 3:30", mostly decent food quality. They still have the same last-mile problem as everybody else, though. (Seriously, could somebody just nuke OnTrac from orbit?)

I also did Freshly for a bit. The convenience is clearly there because like you said, no cooking. I found them to be even better when you reheat in the oven too.

I eventually cancelled Freshly because I grew tired of the lack of variation.

I would pay a LOT for a meal kit or pre-made meal service that placed allergies/intolerances as its priority.

I suspect the reason this is so difficult is also the reason that I would pay a lot for it: it's a huge pain to come up with many recipes when you're allergic to many things. I'm allergic to almost all legumes. That includes soy, peanuts, lentils, edamame, most beans, peas, licorice, etc. However, I'm not allergic to black beans. This combination of allergies is highly unique: I'm sure there aren't that many people out there who share the exact same allergies. Sure, maybe some people have overlap, but it's likely only a partial overlap.

This means that any meal kit service would either have to 1) Provide bespoke sets of kits for almost every allergy combination possible or 2) Provide a limited number of meal sets that hit the big categories. Option 1 is nigh impossible since that's too many combinations to gain the benefits of economies of scale. Option 2 also sucks because my allergies might get lumped into a broader category and I miss out on ingredients. (Eg. I actually can eat black beans, but since they're legumes, they would likely be banned from a 'no legumes' set of meals)

The closest service I've found is https://paleoonthego.com/collections/aip-bakery

However, I think they fall prey to my option 2's issues. No nightshades??? What the heck? I love tomatoes! Additionally, I haven't even bothered ordering anything from there because the items are so expensive. Just look at some of the prices: $22 for 4 pop tarts! So in fact, not only did they fall prey to option 2's issues, but they also fall prey to option 1's issues! (lack of economies of scale)

I have no idea if this issue is ever solvable in a way that provides a stable business model. Frankly, if normal meal kit services can't make it work, I doubt one that artificially limits its customer base would work either.

So.. I'm guessing it's not as simple as it sounds for the biz to tag each recipe with each allergen-ingredient, and then exclude recipes on that basis for a given customer's list of allergens?

Maybe I haven't looked hard enough: but I still haven't found a service that can reliably do that at the level of detail I need. (Eg. Blacklist all legumes, except for black beans which are whitelisted)

Plus I think that unless the business is focused around these bespoke allergy-friendly recipes, then me blacklisting a large swath of ingredients will lead to me missing out on most of / their best meals.

My wife thinks they're fun to make. People get to try new foods and ingredients.

Cheaper than going out, but obviously not cheaper than buying the groceries yourself.

Plenty of people spend $5 at a coffee shop so I can see a subset of the market continuing to pay $8/serving + shipping for this stuff.

I learnt about Hello Fresh a few weeks ago, signed up, and have been a happy customer since.

For me, not having to pick a recipe and do the shopping is the biggest convenience. The results range from meh to awesome (certainly sometimes due to me botching the recipe).

Price-wise, the service is between eating out and buying groceries myself, which I think is fair.

Shipments have been on time and usually okay (had rotten tomatoes once).

I’m not sure how long I’ll stay with them, but for now, I have no intention of canceling. I have eaten healthier food with more variety, and learnt a bunch about cooking and recipe tuning in the process.

I've been with HelloFresh for a year and a half. Before joining, I could only make the most basic meals, spaghetti, grilled cheese. Now, I feel like the training with HelloFresh and I'm a much better cook. The variety of meals has got me to try numerous things (and combinations of spices, ingredients, etc) that I normally would never buy for myself in a grocery store, or order in a restaurant.

I have to say that one thing about HelloFresh meals, they always plate so well. Over the time I've been with them, I've certainly collected a number of favourite recipies. But unfortunately, recipies are definitely repeating now.

There are a number of reasons I am still with them.

1. Having everything needed just show up is really nice. I waste way less food with HelloFresh (either over buying ingredients that go bad, or making too much due to poor portion control and no one wants to eat left over 3 days after). Having just the right amount of fresh herbs for a meal can really make or break the flavour. I do still go to to grocery store for some basic stuff that I use to supplement some meals with, as some meals are occassaionally small. For example, if the meal comes with 1 potato, I may add a potato of my own. I leave the meat portion alone, and I think this has gotten me to eat smaller portions as well.

2. Having a constant stream of different meals is nice. Before, my husband and I'd settled into always making the standard rotation of around 10 meals. That gets dull really quick. It was leading us to ordering pizza more than once a week, which is definitely not good (it is tasty, but not good).

3. I enjoy making the food, and like I said, it always looks great when it is plated, so I take pictures of each creation and proud to show friends and family.

The over packaging issue, so the box and the meals within is cardboard and paper bags, I recycle both. I noticed recently they no longer plastic bag the garlic or shallots, which is just fine by me. The biggest waste right now is all the small plastic bags the sauces and spices come in. I suppose if I wanted, I could recycle those as well since they are plastic. The ice packs are non-chemical, and reusable. I've given many many away to friends and family. Basically no one I know ever has to buy an ice pack again. And even then I have too many of them, so once in a while I cut a bunch open and wash it down the drain (they say it is a non-toxic salt solution, and safe to wash down the drain)

The boxes I've also given away when people want moving boxes, but I recycle most of them.

I think recently some of the meals have gotten a little "meh". I paused my subscription on some weeks when really nothing on the list excited me. I hope that trend doesn't continue. I have not tried other services like BA.

I found that Blue Apron did pretty much all I could have expected on their end- better recipes and ingredients that I usually got in my neighborhood and new techniques I hadn’t tried. I quit because of the fundamental problem that a subscription food service requires an unknown time commitment (recipes were quite involved)3x a week as well as worry about missing the delivery and having food spoil.

This was the same issue for me. Maybe I’m just inefficient at cooking but I discovered quite quickly that cooking complex meals at home multiple times per week is actually not something I wanted to do. I found myself spending what felt like an inordinate amount of time on dinner between prep, actual cooking, eating, and extensive cleanup.

I don’t know if this is really Blue Apron’s fault. It’s more that I thought I wanted their service, then discovered I really didn’t.

On the logistics side, there were also numerous times when the delivery time was just not convenient for me. Again, I don’t think BA really did anything wrong here per se, but it was frustrating needing to plan around expecting a big box of fresh food to show up sometime on a particular day. This was further complicated by living in an apartment complex where deliveries sometimes go to the door... but also sometimes to the leasing office, which closes before I even get home.

> Maybe I’m just inefficient at cooking but I discovered quite quickly that cooking complex meals at home multiple times per week is actually not something I wanted to do. I found myself spending what felt like an inordinate amount of time on dinner between prep, actual cooking, eating, and extensive cleanup.

The way to be efficient is to cook in bulk so you have leftovers. I typically cook in bulk every Sunday, freeze six portions, and remove a portion from each the six prior weeks from the freezer.

This is what I prefer to do, but it's exactly the opposite of how Blue Apron works, which is why I found myself frustrated. BA portions are designed for a single meal (for one or two people [edit: two or four]), so there are no leftovers.

> BA portions are designed for a single meal (for one or two people)

Actually, BA portions are designed for a single meal for two or four people, (two people for the regular plan, four for the family plan.)

Thanks for the correction. It's been a while since I used it. We used the two-person plan and I wrongly remembered the other option as being for one person as opposed to four.

This is my main issue with these types of services. Some weeks I want to make something new/complex 4 times and some weeks I barely want to at all.

Here in Denmark we have a nice services where you can cancel your order or reorder every week, but I never know how much time I have at the beginning of the week.

For what it's worth you can cancel/skip specific deliveries with Blue Apron. That helps some on the logistics side if you know in advance you're going to be busy the day of delivery. But it doesn't completely address the issue, especially since you have to skip a certain amount of time in advance.

BA can execute at 100% and they will still not get around the fact that they are selling groceries + additional food packaging services and neither the grocery business nor packaging has ever had real margins to speak of in the past 30 years.

They are indeed doomed. They can easily be replaced by your local supermarket putting a kiosk and you buying it whenever you feel like it, not on a shipping schedule. I've seen it on my local supermarket. Love it.

I came here to say the same thing. The supermarket was always the big looming threat to any meal kit business. And they are also providing pickup and delivery service.

I don't necessarily need to eat something different every day, which is what these Meal Kits provide (i.e. variety in cooking).

I actually think meal kits for bulk meal prep would be more interesting. Meal prep has become a "thing" especially for those with some fitness goal - and getting a shipment that allows you bulk prepare 1-2 weeks worth of 1-2 dishes for lunch and/or dinner that fits a particular diet or fitness goal would be a lot more interesting to me (e.g. for weight loss, keto, bulking up, marathon training, etc.)

Does the group of people who meal prep line up with those that don't want to think about meal prep? One of the benefits of these meal prep kits is that you end up with a freshly cooked meal. If you are going to be eating a prepared meal, why not just let the service send it fully ready to go?

I haven't tried a prepared meal prep food delivery service before, but I would imagine that a successful "bulk meal prep kit" would need to be cheaper per meal than one that is pre-made.

I also think a major part of the appeal of meal kits is not really in having a "freshly prepared meal" as much as in helping people more easily achieve a level of satisfaction out of making something homemade. That, and the convenience of not 1) having to go to the grocery store to buy meal prep goods and 2) not having to find decent recipes for meals that fit your nutrition or fitness goal

Makes me wonder how Gobble is doing.

It seems to be likely that there is a percentage of customers who will try and use these services for the long run. The trick will be for these companies to build up enough profitable customers so that they can spend on marketing to new customers and still make a profit. I'd expect some consolidation and in a few years, a handful of sustainable businesses.

I use Gobble and still like it. Unlike BlueApron etc, Gobble is intended to be quick and easy. Like, rather than giving you potato and expecting you to mash it, Gobble gives you the damn mashed potatoes and you microwave them.

First selling most perishable items online is difficult, but to believe home meals are doomed is shortsighted. The market exists otherwise because not everybody wants to play Gordon Ramsey every night. These companies are mostly doing everything themselves when in many cases they should partner with local grocery store chains and create branded meal plans. It's no different than the flower industry, where you partner with local florists who build your bouquet and deliver it under a national brand. It's extremely tough to deliver flower bouquets from a central fulfillment facility, been there did that.

People are lazy, nothing changes there anytime soon. Yet these are the same people who drop $75 for dinner a few times a week like it's no big deal yet will compare that to a meal subscription like it's a ripoff. The audience is out there, just a matter of finding them.

I've tried various meal kit programs, chiefly because of their various free offers, and almost all of them start out strong and then their food quality declines overtime. My biggest complaint is not cost but the low quality of most of the food itself.

I have also tried various programs, and not only do I find the quality of the food to be an issue, but the menu and variety of food is really lacking. Even with little to no dietary restrictions, I often found that by week 3, meals started to feel the same and there was a lack of variety.

I've kept the recipes that I really liked and just buy the ingredients myself at my local grocery store, no sense in paying for the food to be delivered at this point.

Would people here use a similar service, but the ingredients are automatically sourced from your local supermarket and delivered to your door? Almost supermarket prices with still the convenience of not deciding what to eat and buying the separately.

Yes! I've tried out a few of the services here in Canada, using first order promos, and I've found them all to be expensive and have a crazy amount of packaging. I'd love to be able to decide I want a kit, order it online at lunch time, and either have it delivered or pick it up on my way home.

"Almost supermarket prices"

This is the problem - it's not going to be 'almost supermarket prices'. It'll be a 10-20% markup, which is a lot for food.

But it's not necessarily so much if it saves me an hour of driving and shopping.

People don't value their time like that, at least, most of them don't. I mean, some do, but at my hourly rate the time I spend on driving and shopping is much more than its cost and I still balk at paying e5 for grocery deliveries, and I program economic models for a living! (instead I always order a few products that give me free delivery, and/or select a not so popular delivery time slot).

Point being, economic modeling and naively assigning a time value equal to or even just related to people's normal hourly wages is - well - naive, and does not yield accurate representations of real world behaviors.

Here's another example: I used to have a cleaner who I'd pay e10/hour. She'd park across the street from my house, paid parking, e6 per day. There was free parking available at 10 minutes walking distance. So for 20 minutes of walking, she'd save 6 euros, i.e. e18/h, almost double what she could make from her actual work! And yet she continued to pay for parking, even after I did this math for her. Point being: people are sensitive to costs in very non-intuitive (some might say: irrational, but I don't like the connotations of that word) ways.

I just stick to a single cultural cuisine for a while and fold my leftovers somehow into tomorrows meal and try not to have too many left overs to begin with. This works pretty good with Mexican, and most cultures know something about leftover management. If I need to be entertained while dining I'll do it at a restaurant now and then.

Picking out ingredients for a random recipe is going to leave you with little surpluses here and there. It can be hard to work it all into what you cook if you vary widely in what you cook. Though I do love cooking a variety of things. It can be wasteful unless your planning is on par with a chef.

Does anyone just use these websites for meal ideas and just go shopping on their own?

My issue is finding a good recipe which also doesn't have 15 separate ingredients to buy - these companies I'd imagine would try to have as little ingredients as possible - and have similarities that picking a few recipes means you already have crossovers.

Most recipes I see are sometimes way too much trouble or take too long to prepare (sometimes overnight!) - I thought I'd be okay eating the same thing but when you're living with others and cooking together you want some variety.

Try one of Roxanne Gold’s cookbooks. One of her Schticks is recipes with just a few ingredients. If nothing else, it helps get you into a mode of knowing that recipes can be pretty simple.

There are also regional cuisines that require more ingredients but there’s a core set that get reused a lot.

Hello Fresh levelled me up as a cook and greatly reduced the amount of waste we generate.

Our bin is emptied once a month now (from twice a month) - it would be once every two months if it wasn't for the diapers.

For me, the quality had gone downhill considerably. First, missing ingredients or completely mis-boxed orders. Then, the actual ingredients started becoming low quality. Stuff that would remain on the shelf at the grocery store. Then stuff started coming damaged. And all the sides are cheap (high) carbs. I was ok with the packaging, it never bothered me.

Going to the store, you get exactly what you want, good to high quality choices, and no damage! Plus, endless variety. And its way cheaper. So for me, there was little value left.

Meal kits are doomed but fully prepared meal delivery services like freshly are here to stay. Even if freshly itself dies I really think Amazon is going to expand into the pre-made meal market.

I think frozen meals will make comeback.

I'm thinking about non-cooked frozen meals , which you'll cook at home in some one-click cooking gadget , like an instant-pot or a smart combi-oven, or maybe some basic cooking robot[1].

That way you could get high quality, high-convenience at a cheaper price.

[1]you get pre-cut ingredients.

You put each ingredient in a bin at your home cooking machine.

The machine adds each ingredient to a pot at the right time, and mixes when needed and controls the heat.

Might as well buy a Thermomix or equivalent

The Thermomix doesn't offer a great amount of value.

If it was, a competitor would be offering it for a mass market price($300-400 or cheaper), and have a hit.

Agreed. I switched from Green Chef to Freshly. I love it. In three minutes I have a meal. With Green Chef it was always 30-45 minutes of prep and it got old.

I think they have meal kits at Amazon stores, at least the one I've been in (Chicago, Illinois Center location).

I subscribed to Blue Apron for a few months and was unhappy with the service. Boxes would come missing important items or with incorrect quantities. Recently, I purchased a Tovala oven (and subscribed for the meals which go along with it.) So far so good! I only use it to supplement meals we cook at home or for lunch when certain dinners we cook won’t have leftovers, etc. It’s surprisingly good and we use the oven to cook our own food, as well.

I never tried any of these services. None of them offered keto-friendly (low carbohydrate) meal options. I probably would have if at least one of them did.

I never understood the appeal behind them in the first place, so take my opinion with that bias in mind.

I think that a user-adaptive program to procedurally generate a weekly meal plan, break that down into a unified grocery shopping list, and maybe even forward said list to the picker services that some grocery stores are running now, would remove every last speck of competitive advantage the mail order kits have. Instead of getting a dinner-in-a-box delivered to your door every day, you can park in a pickup spot at the grocery, pop the trunk/hatch, get your order, and take it home. Every night, your phone can alert you when to start dinner, what foods you'll need, and pull up a recipe card or checklist if you need it.

If you know how to make tacos, and like to eat them every Tuesday, you'll get taco ingredients on your grocery list every week, and will likely get frequent suggestions for recipes that also contain cilantro, chiles, lime, tomatoes, sour cream, and green onions, to use up the leftovers. Cilantro-lime chicken. Pad Thai. Crunchy ramen salad. The most efficient meals divide your grocery store haul across multiple meals, so you don't end up eating a whole head of lettuce in one sitting, but can eat a little in every meal for which lettuce makes sense, until it's gone--ideally the night before you pick up your next load of groceries.

But the biggest advantage is that I wouldn't have to think about food until it's exactly the time I need to deal with it. There're no tedious exchanges like: "Whaddya wanna eat? Dunno; whaddyou want? Don't care. Pizza? No, not that. Mexican? Nah. Sushi? Yyyyeah... okay. Sakura or Honada? I thought we weren't going to Sakura any more? Oh yeah." &c. &c. &c.

Remember when Mom and/or Dad said "We're having meatloaf and Brussels sprouts tonight. Siddown, shaddap, and eat."? That was easy. All you had to do was show up. It even worked okay after Mom/Dad got sick of your kid complaints and said, "Fine. You make dinner, and I'll unload the dishwasher." The menu was already planned, and the food ready to cook. So a program that would select a partially randomized meal, composed of stuff that I already told it I like, and can cook, would eliminate a lot of time wasted on thinking about food. The mail-order services do that, but they're not the only ones who can do that.

This would be a great service. I'd pay a few bucks a week to have a service that sent me a weekly shopping list, and the corresponding recipes. I hate wasting food, so if it could know that "well, he needs blackbeans for this recipe, but an entire can is too much, so we'll chuck in the other recipe a few days later to use up the beans..."

It would be nice if grocery stores had a more descriptive/accessible way of searching for and buying items online. Choosing a recipe, then getting a list of required ingredients - perhaps even delivered automatically to your door - seems like a much more environmentally friendly and practical solution compared to these meal kits.

Wegmans (mid-Atlantic and New England) has this in their app and on their website, it's quite nice. Sample: https://www.wegmans.com/meals-recipes/meals/main-course/asia...

There are a number of curated recipe apps that put together a weekly shopping list, some even integrate with amazon fresh or instacart for delivery. Your weekly recipe choices are not infinite, but I really like the suggestion of novelty and not being overwhelmed by too many choices.

I recently purchased one at a Kroger (store branded). It is good to know that Costco will also stock them soon.

Buying them at local stores has most of the benefits with less of the ecological impact or high costs. In fact the one I purchased had less overall packaging than buying the parts individually, there was still a price premium however.

Mealkits haven't worked for me at all (I have tried a few), but boxes of fresh veggies and of meat have been great.

Not naming companies as I'm not shilling, just pointing out the success (for one person!) of a different model.

I tried a couple of blue apron kits when they were in Costco. Some nights you have the time and energy to cook from scratch. Some nights you order pizza. Other nights a meal kit is just right.

I never found these attractive, the amount of trash you generate using them is just heinous, and I'm not even usually a pro-environment person.

Not only do they generate trash by requiring a lot of small bags and such for the ingredients, they also create food waste by bundling together ingredients with different expiration times. I spent some time digging around in dumpsters behind a grocery store in Vegas which carries their own meal kit offering. They throw out huge boxes of meal kits with expired meat in them which contain a bunch of food which is good for longer, like rice, herbs, potatoes, etc.

It was great for me because its a lot of clean, unexpired food for free but the amount of waste it created blew my mind.

Much prefer the Huel / Soylent route.

Too expensive. I make software engineer money and I can't justify it.

I've wrote about this some time ago here: https://medium.com/@giacaglia/the-end-of-the-meal-kit-ffc707...

Long time ago I wouldn't have minded. But cooking itself is an enjoyable process....and those are the people these guys are targteting....

it's not a sustainable model because once you realize you have a measuring spoon and the right beakers, its just following directions, sort of like a series of linux commands you would normally copy & paste


Hey, just a suggestion. You asked me to enter my zip code first and then told me that you don't serve my area. Might I suggest A/B testing the following: show us your service areas and ask for our zipcode / email to notify us when the service will be available in our area. This is a bit more transparent with less of a letdown. But I'm not sure if it'll net you more useful data (thus the A/B test).

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