5 Best Eco-Conscious Meal Kit Delivery Services for 2020
Meal kit services offer pre-portioned recipes and a fun cooking experience. But what options are best for the earth-conscious family?
For those looking for a quick and convenient way to eat delicious, hearty meals with little to no hassle, there are plenty of meal delivery services to choose from. We've all seen the overwhelming number of meal kits promoted via Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms, but many consumers are left wondering if these delivery services are really worth the purchase. Despite all the hype, these programs can be beneficial for a number of reasons, including their environmental impact.
Meal delivery kits actually have one-third of the carbon footprint as the same meals bought in a grocery store, and they offer the advantage of easy meal planning and sustainable ingredient sourcing while simultaneously cutting down on food waste.
Food waste is a big problem in the U.S. The average American generates more than 200 pounds of waste each year, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Meal kits are a way to cut back on discarded food.
Each kit comes with pre-portioned packets of produce, meat or fish, if requested, and all the spices and seasonings one needs to complete a chef-inspired dish at-home. So, if meal kits can actually lessen the strain you're putting on the world (and on your cooking prowess), which option is best?
We reviewed several of the leading brand's on their food options, packaging, and customer reviews to find the services we think are best for the conscious consumer. Here is our list of the top five meal kit delivery services.
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According to researchers, you could cut the carbon footprint of your diet by 60% by eating plant-based meals for two-thirds of your diet.
Now, if sustainability is about achieving a balance between human consumption and the environments we impact, plant-based is the way to go. Purple Carrot offers all plant-based meal kits in a variety of tasty menu items. There's even a black bean burger if you want to prepare the vegan-skeptic member of your family a familiar plate.
Purple Carrot meal kits, in many ways, support the idea that many small, smart choices can add up to a big impact.
Cost: Purple Carrot costs $11.99 price per serving for two people and $9.99 per serving for the four-plate plan. With introductory discounts the first week costs $50 to $60.
Sun Basket is our favorite organic meal kit brand. Sun Basket delivers a box of 100% organic produce, antibiotic- and hormone-free meat, and farm fresh eggs. Their approach to sourcing wild seafood was named Best Choice or Good Alternative by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® Program.
Sun Basket aims to support farmers who push for sustainable water management and crop rotations, as well as ranchers and fisherman who treat the planet with respect.Cost: Three meals each week for two people costs $71.94 plus $7.99 shipping. That's $11.99 per serving.
Green Chef is a certified organic company with meal kit plans that include keto, paleo, and plant-based options. You can schedule a weekly delivery or stagger deliveries during the month, depending on your personal needs or how often you choose to cook. Green Chef has a wide variety of recipe options, and according to its website, "offsets 100% of its direct carbon emissions and plastic packaging" through its sustainability efforts.
Cost: Price is based on the plan chosen, but costs are generally $11.49 per meal for the Keto + Paleo option, $10.49 per meal for the Balanced Living option, and $10.49 per meal for the Plant-powered option. Shipping and handling costs are additional.
Freshly is the only service we came across that offered corporate options. We liked the idea of a cost-efficient way to serve a large group a healthy meal. Freshly boxes in the office fridge would be a nice reprieve from the typical mid-day exodus to the nearest quick food option. All Freshly meals come in recyclable packaging and the single portions mean less food going to waste during preparation, which makes this a more sustainable option than many single-serving meal packages available in the freezer section of your local grocery store.
Cost: Individual meals are $8.99 to $12.50 per serving with free shipping.
If you're looking for organic ingredients, simple recipe cards, and a highly affordable option, Every Plate is for you. Every Plate uses less packaging than most other delivery services due to their simpler packages that contain fewer spice and sauce packets. Most Every Plate meals can be made in under 30 minutes, which makes this as close as you can come to fast and "cheap" meals with clean ingredients.
Cost: Weekly boxes of two or four servings for as little as $4.99 per serving.
Getting Started with a Meal Delivery Service
With so much variety, selecting a meal delivery service can turn into a stressful endeavor. Additionally, brands like Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Home Chef, and Daily Harvest are other options that are trying to win you over, but they may not have the most sustainable methods as some of the options listed above.
Although the sheer number of meal kit options can also work to your advantage. These companies are competing for customers and often offer sign-up specials and discounts to get you started. When shopping for a subscription service, try multiple options and take advantage of these deals. With many programs, you have the freedom to change or cancel your subscription, so you can try a few different options to find one that fits your taste and your budget. We also recommend that you compare your per-meal cost to what you might spend on dinners at the grocery store to maximize your savings.
If you give one of these meal kits a try, let us know what you think. We'll update this list regularly as we get feedback from readers and add additional sustainability notes as we dive deeper into new services.
Melena Gurganus is the Reviews Editor at EcoWatch. She is passionate health and wellness and her writing aims to help others find products they can trust. Her work has been featured in publications such as Health, Shape, Huffington Post, Cannabis Business Times, and Bustle.
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