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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

5 Reasons Why Meal Kits Are the Future of Cooking

Rip open the packages and toss in the ingredients – bam! Look out Emeril, there’s a new chef in town.

After a long hard day of working, doing laundry, and generally keeping the lights turned on and the Netflix playing, the last thing I want to do is slave over a home-cooked meal. But I’m a bona fide grown-up. I know that home-cooked meals are usually cheaper and healthier than eating out and, let’s face it, eating McDonald’s while sober is just sad.

Enter, the meal kit. Amazon offers one. Hello Fresh and Blue Apron meal kits come right to your door. Even Target is getting in on the action.

This is the future of cooking, people. Here are five reasons why.

1. It Feels Good

There’s something very satisfying about throwing ingredients into a pot, more or less without looking. With new recipes or for new cooks, that satisfaction would only come once a person develops an eye for measurements. Not anymore. With meal kits, just read through the directions, rip open the packages, and toss in the ingredients – bam! Look out Emeril, there’s a new chef in town.

And to be honest, going to the grocery store at 5:30 PM on a weekday or basically anytime on a Saturday is going to be a crowded mess. Even though I’m an extrovert, and as much as I enjoy the sweet hospitality of my local grocery store clerks/cashiers, I’m not always up for the hubbub of bumping carts and busy checkout counters. Delivery meal kits save me the hassle of going out in public or putting on pants – the ultimate good feels.

2. Meal Kits Teach You How to Cook

Is the art of cooking lost in America; and did we ever have it to begin with? For a lot of people, it’s the latter. Aside from whipping up a box of mac and cheese (which is really a super simple, old-school meal kit) and boiling water for a box of Barilla pasta before slopping on a jar of tomato sauce, most of my friends and schoolmates had no idea how to cook.

One of the best things about meal kits is that you get hands-on practice. Meal kits are basically an Idiot’s Guide to Feeding Yourself.

I’m just waiting for somebody (hint, hint) to get smart and team up with a celebrity chef to produce a meal kit service. Via streaming video, Rachael Ray could teach you how to cook a meal that will be yummo for the whole family and you could cook right along with her, with convenient, pre-proportioned ingredients.

3. Prices Will Fall

New meal kit services are popping up all the time. Those who do it well have a big share of the market right now. I’m looking at you, Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. Their success signals to entrepreneurs, “There’s money to be made here!”

Seeing that, a person with pluck, maybe somebody just like you, will realize that they too have the skills and moxie to run that game. They’ll know they can do it better, so they do. New companies will enter the market, forcing competitors to innovate, lower prices, and provide higher quality products.

4. Kits Make Meal Prep Easy

People have a natural tendency to specialize. Mostly we do so because there are things we like and are better at doing and things that we prefer other people to do for us – and there’s no shame in this as long as you aren’t rude about your preferences. You wash, I’ll dry.

With meal kits, very little is being asked of novice cooks, some of whom have a culinary history that consists of little more than burnt cheese, gummy mashed potatoes, and ER visits. Since the meal kit processes are simple and the directions are usually easy, it’s a snap to cook up one or two in a setting. Scoop portions of your meals into Tupperware and – just like that – you’ve got lunches for the whole week.

5. Streamline and Eliminate Excess

Americans lead the world in food waste. Our food is cheap and fairly easy to access (assuming you don’t live in a food desert) In fact, “roughly 50 percent of all produce in the United States is thrown away – some 60 million tons (or $160 billion) worth of produce annually.”

I’m guilty too. At the store I will ambitiously buy broccoli, zucchini, and bunches of herbs, dreamily anticipating all the wonderful dishes I will concoct, and three weeks later, I chuck green bags of mush straight into the waste bin. Like me, more and more people are thinking about how they can streamline the entire grocery-to-cooked-food process and eliminate excess and waste.

When cooking with meal kits, you get all the ingredients you need to cook a meal and nothing extra. This leaves less good food to spoil in the refrigerator and less spoiled food to land in a dumpster or landfill.

And just think of how neat and clean your fridge could be if you only had meal prep containers, leftovers, and meals-in-waiting!

So it is this author’s opinion that meal kits are the next wave of cooking. That is, of course, if a bunch of bureaucracy doesn’t get in the way.

  • Marianne March was a Social Media Manager at FEE, as well as a contributing author. In 2016, Marianne graduated summa cum laude from Georgia State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Policy with a concentration in Planning and Economic Development and a minor in Economics. Prior to joining FEE, Marianne worked for the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Marianne is passionate about philanthropy, music, and art. In her free time you can find Marianne at a rock concert, sunning by the pool, or listening to a podcast.