After two years of swinging in and out of lockdowns and isolation periods, we’re using meal kits more than ever before.
They’re a great way to avoid going to the shops, whether that’s for COVID or laziness reasons, and they’re good for expanding the repertoire (especially if, like me, you’ve nailed one vegetarian stirfry that you cook every time).
There are plenty available to choose from (more or less depending on where you live) and there are always various voucher codes floating around that give you a free first box or discounts on the first three boxes.
At Savvy Shopper HQ, we’ve tried most of the major ones (usually on a discount thanks to special offers) and love the convenience, variety and ease of cooking, as well as zero food waste – I hate having a shelf of spices I’ll never use again. The only real downside for us (and the reason we don’t use them regularly) is the wasteful amount of plastic packaging.
So, here’s a quick review of the four major players in the Aussie meal kit market. At Savvy Shopper HQ, we opt for the three meals for two people option (ie. six servings) a week, so all the numbers are based on that.
This German company was the first mainstream meal kit on the Australian market, and the one that kickstarted our love of the boxes. They offer 25 new recipes every week – falling into categories such as vegetarian, calorie smart, and quick and easy – along with a selection of desserts, snacks, and sides.
It’s not super fancy but the ingredients are fresh, the recipes are fairly simple and the portions are generous.
Weekly cost inc. delivery: $75.93
This is the most expensive option of the four, but it’s also a bit of a step up. The recipes are a little more complex (without being difficult) and the meals end up being a little more nuanced. They offer 27 new recipes a week, including meat, fish, vegetarian, vegan, healthy, fast, no added gluten and family-friendly options.
They send almost everything you need for a meal, so there’s not much you need to have on hand. This one gets my and my foodie partner’s vote.
Weekly cost inc. delivery: $78.99
Marley Spoon’s cheaper little sister, so it uses the same ingredient sources, just fewer of them. They go back to basics with a promise of: “5 simple steps… Get your kitchen groove on with our 6-ingredient recipes, ready in 30 minutes or less.” There are about 20 new recipes a week, with a range of meat and veg options, as well as a couple of diary-free, no added gluten, and low-cal options.
The lower price and ultra-simplicity make this a popular option, but we find the meals are often bulked out with carbs and my partner was hungry after some of them. You also need to provide more of the ingredients than with the more expensive boxes.
Weekly cost inc. delivery: $53.49
This is the only one we haven’t tried, so I can’t speak from experience, but with portions starting from $3.98, it’s an appealing option. They’re another no-frills options, promising to simplify cooking with less prep, four steps and fewer ingredients. There are 20 recipes a week and it looks like they’d be similar to Dinnerly in terms of using carbs to fill them out and needing you to BYO staples.
Still, it’s two-thirds the price of Marley Spoon, so there’s definite appeal there.
Weekly cost inc. delivery: $48.93
Pick your plate
It’s a saving of $30.06 every week ($1563.12) if you choose EveryPlate over Marley Spoon.
It’s worth considering that while all meal kits expect you to have pantry ingredients such as salt, pepper, vinegar and cooking oils on hand, the lower cost models want you to supply other staples such as mayonnaise, egg and garlic, so factor that into your cost analysis.
Plus, if you’re the hungry type, you may find you need to supplement the cheaper boxes with snacks and sides, which could mean you end up spending more in the long run.
As far as box v. supermarket goes, if you’re getting the boxes with more servings (like three meals for four people), it’ll cost a similar amount to buying the exact same ingredients from the supermarket, but the boxes are still more expensive than buying ingredients in bulk or stocking up when they’re on special.
If price is your biggest concern, there are definitely cheaper ways to fill your plate (batch cooking and freezing hearty veggie and lentil stews is a favourite here) but the food boxes are great if you can afford to spend a little more and you’re pushed for time, don’t have much in the way of cooking skills or are stuck in a menu rut.