It's been more than a decade since the first meal kit companies introduced themselves to consumers. Since then, the idea of boxing up pre-portioned ingredients with easy-to-make recipes and shipping them to homes, has grown and diversified.
Now, there has been a new surge in popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic and people staying home more often.
According to Consumer Reports, revenue at Blue Apron and Hello Fresh alone increased by more than 20% between April and June of this year.
With so many meal kit services to choose from, which one is best? It all comes down to variety, taste and price.
Arvada resident Arin Miller started her meal kit journey in 2017. She started with Blue Apron.
"It was great but then the recipes started to get a little complicated in my book," Miller said. "We switched to Home Chef. It's been amazing. We've been with them for two years now. There is a big variety of food."
As for price, Consumer Reports found the average cost of a four-person family meal plan can be anywhere from $6 to $12, not including shipping fees.
It's not about price for some customers. Instead, they look at which service is healthier. Health coaches caution people, though.
"We can’t let the name of the company give it a health halo," said registered dietician Pat Baird. "I looked at all the different meal kit companies and many of their meals were very high in sodium."
Baird said customers still have to do their due diligence by reading the health labels.
"We do have to look at each meal and each item and then make the decision," Baird explained.
The beauty about meal kits is that you don't have to be married to one service. You can try one for a few weeks or months and then try a different one. That way, it helps give you the most informed decision on what service you like best.
"The most important thing is that more and more people are cooking in the kitchen again," Baird said. "When this terrible pandemic is over hopefully people will keep cooking."