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The average American spends at least 37 minutes a day involved in food preparation and cleanup. That works out to more than a week each year. For cooks that do more than throw something in the oven, meal prep can take more than an hour. Of course, when you’re living on a budget, one of the first things many people will tell you is to cut down on eating out. But, is that really the best way to save time and money?
There are no two ways about it. Eating at a restaurant costs more than cooking a meal at home. In fact, it costs more than twice as much when you figure the average restaurant expense is upwards of $13 for a relatively inexpensive chicken dinner–and that’s before the tip. At home, the cost of the same meal is around $8 when cooking for a single person and $6.41 per person for a family of four. An excellent bargain shopper might cut that cost down even more with the careful use of coupons. So, how do you balance the need to eat well, affordably and without spending hours in the kitchen?
Relatively new services like Plated and Blue Apron can be both cost effective and time savers. The benefits are clear.
At a price point closer to fast food dining than restaurant dining, meal kits offer significant savings when you would otherwise eat out. You might not enjoy finding recipes or shopping for ingredients. If you don’t, meal kits offer a great way to get past the tedium and right into the cooking.
When you compare the average cost of a restaurant meal to the cost of a meal kit, you can instantly see the savings. Additionally if the meals require a several different spices or ingredients you’ll save on your grocery bill. Of course, meal kits are also a luxury, but they are a much more affordable luxury option.
When getting ready to cook, your prep takes almost as much time as actually cooking. You have to pull out all of the ingredients. Then, you have to measure everything before you start chopping ingredients and heating up pans. With meal kits, you avoid a lot of the prep. Everything you need comes in the box, already correctly portioned. All you have to do is prepare the meal according to the included recipe cards.
Recipes from meal kits are carefully curated from expert chefs. That means you get restaurant-quality food at a fraction of the price. You can enjoy everything from vegetarian to seafood options, and you select the recipes that sound the most appealing.
The average shopping trip takes around 41 minutes. That doesn’t include the time it takes to get to and from the store, any time you spend clipping coupons or making a list. With meal kits delivered straight to your door, you don’t have to spend as much time at the store. Plus, you get seasonal ingredients already picked out. That means your vegetables and fruits are at the peak of freshness when they arrive.
Meal kits are not quite as low cost as buying everything you need for a meal from scratch, but they can come pretty close. If you don’t coupon or spend much time shopping for deals and discounts, meal kits can be a great and affordable alternative to eating out or falling into the takeout trap.
Looking to try a meal service? Get 50% off your first week of Plated or $30 off your first week of Blue Apron.
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