Is it reasonable to have packages of frozen meals shipped to my house?
As an unmarried male with moderate (don’t roll your eyes mother) culinary skills, there is a central frustration with eating in general, and it is this: cooking decent meals for one takes a long time, results in a lot of wasted food, and costs more than eating fast food.
Before nutrition bloggers punch a hole through their computer screens, let me add that with some more careful planning, cooking for myself could probably be cheaper and less wasteful. But as it stands, if I cook a meal that incorporates multiple food groups (say, curry, for example), often I’ll have not quite enough left to save or I’ll Tupperware some leftovers, which I find a month later in a toxic state. I throw away lots of food.
The irrationality of my dining habits has caused me to look for some alternative. I happened to hear about meal delivery, and Veestro seemed like a good place to start.
Veestro mailed the meals vacuum-packed and frozen with dry ice, insulated with recycled foam. I felt like someone was mailing me an organ (this was a pro, not a con).
There were drinks, breakfast meals and dinner meals of many different varieties. Veestro offers a multitude of plant-based options. Their whole idea is based around the concept that eating healthy wasn’t easy enough, which hey, I agree.
Each meal comes with heating instructions on the package. Freezer to table, none of the meals takes more than 20 minutes if you use a microwave, though I did have some issues with the sauces thawing (sauces are packaged separately). Each package includes microwave and oven (or stovetop) instructions, and despite my culinary incompetence, I managed to cook and eat meals quite easily.
Some of the meals were delicious. You didn’t have to worry about overeating, since the meal sizes wouldn’t allow for it. I never felt hungry enough to go for a second meal.
Veestro in particular has a good variety of flavors in each dish, diminishing the stereotypes inherent with freezer food.
That said, some meals definitely felt like freezer meals for some reason. Granted, I may have heated them incorrectly or too much, but they lacked the comfort I could find in a home cooked meal, both in taste and texture.
When Veestro reads this they’ll probably say something like “well sorry we aren’t magicians that can somehow teleport you a meal we just cooked five minutes ago.” I get it, there are certain problems with preservation and travel that no food delivery company is going to overcome. So I guess just don’t expect meal delivery to be a kind of personal chef that makes you meals from scratch every day. That said, the food I was eating tasted miles better than anything found in my grocery store’s freezer section.
Most Veestro meals are around $10-$12 a la carte, and cheaper if you buy in packs. These prices are comparable to Diet-to-Go’s and HomeBistro’s delivered meals, which offer similar services. HomeBistro meals get a little more expensive if you order more meat-centered dishes. If you are wanting meal delivery for three meals a day, that is pretty expensive, at least to most. But that may be reasonable to those who just want one meal provided. As you think about cost, consider this:
• Meal preparation time is about ten minutes on average for a delivered meal. Comparing a similar meal from a recipe would probably take more like 45 minutes to an hour.
• Sure, cereal or a bagel might be cheaper, but these meals (at least Veestro), offer a good nutritional profile that actually leaves you feeling good.
• No wasted food. No dishes to wash.
But a nagging question does keep bothering me. Why not just go to a restaurant for a $10 meal that is as good (or better, in some cases)? Well, Veestro and meal delivery in general are all about healthy food that is convenient. You are paying for convenience, not just the food. A trip to the restaurant, for me, takes about an hour. And call me a homebody, but there is some kind of mental, physiological cost of leaving my home after a hard day of work, just for a meal.
Meal Delivery for Weight Loss
I’ve seen many meal delivery programs offered in the context of weight loss. I can see how this would work, though I am not a first-hand witness. One of the hardest parts of dieting is figuring out portions, grocery shopping to match the diet, counting calories, etc. Meal delivery would make a diet much less mentally taxing, even if it would be more expensive than making the meals yourself.
There are also companies that will just mail you ingredients to recipes so that you can cook meals yourself without having to go to the store. HelloFresh and BlueApron are two such services.
There are a few common scenarios where I think meal delivery is very practical. If you have a high paying job that requires 60+ hours a week, Veestro or one of these other companies would probably be great for you. Another scenario would be that you live more than 15 minutes from the grocery store. Money and time are valued differently for everyone, however.
Meal delivery isn’t practical for families because of the serving size to cost ratio. Also, if you are find comfort in culinary experiences, don’t forfeit that for convenience.
Sorry, Michael . . . While I completely understand the lure of ready-made foods in this busy day and age, I’m not sure that convenience outweighs our ability to support and encourage local growers, as well as our ability to reduce the volume of packaging and shipping materials (whether recyclable or not). I live in the heart of Cleveland Ohio, and yet I have access to a variety of local items (produced no more than 75 miles away) year-round (including in the dead of winter) provided via reusable shopping bag for $25-$27 per week thanks to my local CSA. I love the veestro concept from a self-serving perspective, but I don’t know that I could ever fully cross that line. . .