Are Meal Kits A Good Fit?


Unlike doing the laundry, paying bills or mowing the lawn, meal preparation is a daily responsibility. When the nagging question “What’s for dinner?” claims real estate in your head, along with everything else you need to accomplish, stress can boil over. Little wonder that meal kit delivery services have become so popular. Ingredients for a delicious dinner come right to your door, with cooking instructions included. What’s not to love?

Before you place that first order, consider both the positives (and not so positives) of pre-portioned dinner in a box.

The Upside of Meal Kits

  • Promotes work/life balance: The time typically eaten up with recipe planning and grocery shopping can be spent with your family or enjoying a hobby or fitness activity.
  • Provides better nutrition: Meal kits often contain fresh vegetables and high-quality proteins, which are typically missing from other quick meal options, like packaged heat-and-serve foods from the grocery store or fast food menus. Plus, unlike when you dash through the drive-thru, you get to enjoy your meal together in a comfortable atmosphere on real plates, and not out of paper sacks.
  • Sharpens your culinary skills: The cooking techniques you pick up while making your meal are transferable and can be used when making dinner without a kit. If you're not someone who cooks often, it's a good way to build up your skills and try new things. The pre-measured ingredients and simple steps may also be a way to get your kids cooking with you or a fun way to cook with a spouse or partner.

The Downside of Meal Kits

  • Creates a lot of packaging waste: Compared to the packaging for a typical dinner, meal kits require a lot of ship-safe materials. Each ingredient is often sealed in plastic, and everything is shipped in a box with insulating material and ice packs. Even if some of the materials are recyclable, the amount of packaging that is used is worth considering.
  • Eats up a large chunk of food budget: Cooking with meal kits is typically cheaper than dining out in a sit-down restaurant but compared to purchasing the ingredients and cooking kit-less, subscribing to a preplanned meal delivery service can be pricey.
  • Leaves no leftovers: People seeking portion control will have no problem with meal kits created to serve a set number of people. For households with growing teens or those who like to save money by enjoying leftovers for the next day’s lunch, this could be a drawback.

“Meal kits can provide opportunities to try a vegetable or a method of preparation that’s new for you," says Henry Ford registered dietitian nutritionist Christine Huff. "If you decide to try a meal kit service and have dietary restrictions, such as the need for gluten-free, dairy-free or low-sodium, be sure to find out if options are available. Don’t compromise your nutrition needs for the sake of convenience.”

Talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian before committing to a meal service plan. Take into consideration the diet and nutrition needs of each member of your household, which may include food sensitivities or allergies, and medical conditions.

To find a doctor near you, visit Or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936) in southeast Michigan. If you’re in the Jackson area or south central Michigan, call 1-888-862-DOCS.

Christine Huff, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist, an ACE certified health coach and a certified intuitive eating counselor. She provides patients with expert guidance to create eating plans to meet their unique lifestyle goals at the Henry Ford Allegiance Health Center – Springport Road in Jackson.

Categories: EatWell