Are Meal Kits Cheaper Than Buying Groceries?

When it comes to meal kits, the biggest point of contention is almost always price. People often assume that meal kits are more expensive than picking up groceries and cooking your own recipes.

Is it true?

To get a clear understanding of meal kit vs grocery store pricing we’re going to conduct a little experiment today. We’ll be randomly choosing meals from the top 7 most popular meal delivery services and comparing their ingredients to the same ingredients found in the grocery store.

To keep things consistent, we will use the most expensive per serving/meal cost we can locate on the meal delivery service website. And since each dinner the meal kit service sends serves 2 people, we will double the per serving cost to give us the price to compare to the grocery store ingredients.

Also, since grocery stores around the United States all charge different prices for different foods, we’ll be using Fresh Direct instead of our local grocery store. I’ll be picking the highest-quality ingredients from the grocery store possible to compare the meal kit version. This includes organic, when possible. Why? Because high-quality ingredients are a major selling point of all of the popular meal kits currently on the market. I will also find the smallest quantity available you can purchase via Fresh Direct for each ingredient since we’re only comparing using one serving for the price.

Let’s get started!

Blue Apron vs Grocery Store

You’re probably most familiar with Blue Apron as a meal kit due to how often they advertise and the fact that they are one of the few publicly traded meal delivery services on the market.

The random Blue Apron meal we’ll be using for this comparison will be their Sweet & Spicy Beef Stir-Fry. Below you’ll find the ingredients along with the Fresh Direct prices:

  • Thinly Sliced Beef — $9.99 (1 lb)
  • Jasmine Rice — $4.49 (1.1 lb)
  • Sweet Peppers — $4.49 (1 lb)
  • Zucchini — $1.99 (1 lb)
  • Roasted Peanuts — $4.99 (1 lb bag)
  • Soy Sauce — $3.19 (1 bottle)
  • Sambal Oelek — $2.68 (1 bottle)
  • Rice Vinegar — $3.29 (1 bottle)
  • Togarashi Seasoning (Sweet Paprika, Hot Paprika, Dried Orange Peel, Poppy Seeds, White Sesame Seeds, & Black Sesame Seeds) — $2.99 (1 bottle)
  • Sugar — $2.79 (1 box)

Final Blue Apron vs Grocery Store Tally

  • Blue Apron cost for 1 meal that serves 2 people =  $19.98 ($9.99/serving)
  • Grocery store cost for 1 meal that serves 2 people = $40.89 ($20.45/serving)

View our full Blue Apron review here.

Hello Fresh vs Grocery Store

Hello Fresh, like Blue Apron is also one of the most well-known meal delivery services around. And while similar to Blue Apron, we found their recipes slightly more unique.

The random Hello Fresh meal we’ll be using for this comparison will be their Melty Monterey Jack Burgers. Below you’ll find the ingredients along with the Fresh Direct prices:

  • Garlic — $1 (0.2 lb)
  • Red Onion — $2.29 (1 lb)
  • Zucchini — $1.99 (1 lb)
  • Mayonnaise — $3.69 (1 jar)
  • Balsamic Vinegar — $4.49 (1 bottle)
  • Panko Breadcrumbs — $3.49 (1 bag)
  • Dried Oregano — $2.99 (1 bottle)
  • Ground Beef — $8.99 (1 lb)
  • Monterey Jack Cheese — $4 (0.5 lb)
  • Potato Buns — $3.99 (1 bag)
  • Ketchup — $2.49 (1 bottle)
  • Vegetable Oil — $3.99 (1 bottle)
  • Sugar — $2.79 (1 box)
  • Pepper — $1.99 (1 bottle)
  • Salt — $1.99 (1 bottle)

Final Hello Fresh vs Grocery Store Tally

  • Hello Fresh cost for 1 meal that serves 2 people = $19.98 ($9.99/serving)
  • Grocery store cost for 1 meal that serves 2 people = $50.17 ($25.09/serving)

View our full Hello Fresh review here.

Home Chef vs Grocery Store

Home Chef is another “big” meal delivery service. However, they’re relatively lesser known when compared to others like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron. That being said, their meals are just as delicious (if not more). Their current 2-person plan that sends you 2 recipes per week costs a total of

The random Home Chef meal we’ll be using for this comparison will be their Mesquite Sirloin Steak. Below you’ll find the ingredients along with the Fresh Direct prices:

  • Russet Potatoes — $2.58 (2 x $1.29 per lb)
  • Shredded Cheddar-Jack Cheese — $5.29 (1 bag)
  • Kale — $3.49 (1 lb)
  • Beef Demi-Glace — $5.00 (1 jar)
  • Sirloin Steaks — $20.38 (2 x $10.19)
  • Mesquite Seasoning — $3.28 (1 jar)
  • Butter — $4.79 (1 lb)
  • Sliced Almonds — $4.49 (1 box)

Final Home Chef vs Grocery Store Tally

  • Home Chef cost for 1 meal that serves 2 people = $19.98 ($9.99/serving)
  • Grocery store cost for 1 meal that serves 2 people = $49.30 ($24.65/serving)

View our full Home Chef review here.

Sun Basket vs Grocery Store

Sun Basket is a meal delivery service that’s known for their variety of speciality meal plans (e.g. paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, and more).

The random Sun Basket meal we’ll be using for this comparison will be their Speedy Lettuce-Wrapped Salmon Burgers with Fall Fruit Salad. Below you’ll find the ingredients along with the Fresh Direct prices:

  • Wild salmon burgers — $18.63 (2 burgers)
  • Organic green lettuce — $3.49 (1 head of lettuce)
  • Organic Bosc — $5.99 (1 bag)
  • Organic Fuji — $5.99 (1 bag)
  • Roasted almonds — $4.49 (1 box)
  • Organic pomegranate — $3.49 (1 pomegranate)
  • Whole grain Dijon mustard — $3.79 (1 bottle)
  • Onion — $1.49 (1 lb)
  • Extra virgin olive oil — $10.99 (1 bottle)
  • Apple cider vinegar — $4.49 (1 bottle)
  • Salt — $1.99 (1 bottle)

Final Sun Basket vs Grocery Store Tally

  • Sun Basket cost for 1 meal that serves 2 people = $21.98 ($10.99/serving)
  • Grocery store cost for 1 meal that serves 2 people = $64.83 ($32.42/serving)

View our full Sun Basket review here.

Plated vs Grocery Store

Plated got its start on the well-known show, Shark Tank. Since then, they’ve exploded in popularity. In 2017, they were purchased by the national grocery chain Albertsons.

The random Plated meal we’ll be using for this comparison will be their Herbed Chicken with Mediterranean Rice Salad and Feta. Below you’ll find the ingredients along with the Fresh Direct prices:

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts — $12.99 (1 lb / 2 breasts)
  • Jasmine Rice — $4.49 (1.1 lb)
  • Rice — $2.99 (2 lbs)
  • Scallions — $1.99 (3 oz)
  • Lemon — $0.99 (1 lemon)
  • White Wine Vinegar — $4.99 (1 bottle)
  • Red Bell Pepper — $2.99 (1 lb)
  • Dill — $2.49 (4 oz)
  • Oregano — $2.99 (1 bottle)
  • Parsley — $1.79 (4 oz)
  • Pepperoncini — $3.29 (1 jar)
  • Crumbled Feta Cheese — $4.00 (0.25 lb)
  • Niçoise Olives — $8.99 (1 jar)

Final Plated vs Grocery Store Tally

  • Plated cost for 1 meal that serves 2 people = $23.90 ($11.95/serving)
  • Grocery store cost for 1 meal that serves 2 people = $54.98 ($27.49/serving)

View our full Plated review here.

Marley Spoon vs Grocery Store

Marley Spoon is the lesser-known meal delivery service backed by the super-homemaker, Martha Stewart. They market themselves as the meal delivery service that allows you to cook recipes from Martha herself.

The random Marley Spoon meal we’ll be using for this comparison will be their Honey-Dijon Glazed Steak with Roasted Green Beans & Potatoes. Below you’ll find the ingredients along with the Fresh Direct prices:

  • Dijon Mustard — $3.79 (1 bottle)
  • Thyme — $1.99 (0.25 oz)
  • Honey — $4.99 (1 bottle)
  • Green Beans — $1.79 (1 lb)
  • Yukon Gold Potatoes — $2.29 (1 lb)
  • Sirloin Steaks — $16.99 (1 lb)
  • Dark Balsamic Vinegar — $6.59 (1 bottle)
  • Freshly Ground Pepper — $1.99 (1 bottle)
  • Coarse Kosher Salt — $2.99 (1 box)
  • Olive Oil — $10.99 (1 bottle)

Final Marley Spoon vs Grocery Store Tally

  • Marley Spoon cost for 1 meal that serves 2 people = $24 ($12/serving)
  • Grocery store cost for 1 meal that serves 2 people = $54.40 ($27.20/serving)

View our full Marley Spoon review here.

Green Chef vs Grocery Store

Green Chef is a meal delivery service known for their wide variety of niche meal plans. From vegan and vegetarian to keto and paleo, they have something for almost every diet.

The random Green Chef meal we’ll be using for this comparison will be their Curry-Spiced Steaks & Chutney. Below you’ll find the ingredients along with the Fresh Direct prices:

  • Sirloin Steaks — $16.99 (1 lb)
  • Curry Powder — $1.09 (4 oz)
  • Yellow Potatoes — $2.29 (1 lb)
  • Cumin Seeds — $3.99 (1.8 oz)
  • Yellow Onions — $1.99 (2 lbs)
  • Ginger — $2.49 (6 oz)
  • Mangos — $2.99 (8 oz)
  • Cilantro — $1.29 (0.25 oz)
  • Coconut — $4.99 (8 oz)
  • Red Cabbage — $1.99 (1 lb)
  • Carrots — $1.49 (1 lb)
  • Granny Smith Apple — $0.65 (1 apple)

Final Green Chef vs Grocery Store Tally

  • Green Chef cost for 1 meal that serves 2 people = $25.98 ($12.99/serving)
  • Grocery store cost for 1 meal that serves 2 people = $42.24 ($21.12/serving)

View our full Green Chef review here.

Final Thoughts

Did the price comparison surprise you?

Many people assume that meal kits are much more expensive than actually going to the grocery store, picking up the ingredients, and making it yourself. As you can see, this is a myth. In fact, in every single comparison between a meal delivery service and the grocery store, the meal kit was always cheaper.

Keep in mind that we didn’t even factor in gas/maintenance costs on your car and the time that it takes to go to the grocery store, find ingredients, wait in line, pay, drive home, and put everything away. If we did, the grocery store prices would be even more expensive.

Yes, I know this comparison isn’t perfect. We’re comparing single-use ingredients (via the meal kits) to full-sized products (via the grocery store). The thought-process behind writing this article is to show people that if they were to use the same recipe that the meal delivery service sends, it would cost significantly more to buy all the ingredients at the grocery store than the meal delivery service would charge them. It’s not possible to buy only single-use ingredients at the grocery store or else the price comparison would be much closer.

Beyond the price factor, meal kits allow you to explore new dishes without being stuck with random ingredients you’ll likely never use (for example, “samal oelek” from the Blue Apron recipe). Their goal is to make cooking less of a chore and more of an experience you actually look forward to.

If this comparison has changed your view on meal kits, we want to hear from you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…

Dan Scalco

As someone who is considered an "average" cook, I have looked far and wide for meal delivery services that will help save me time and money while still ending up with a tasty meal. In my quest, I have tested and reviewed tons of different food delivery services. I am using this site to share all of my findings with you!

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  • This is surprising…. I’m interested to know how much it would cost if you actually priced out just the specific servings and not the cost to buy the whole ingredient from the grocery store. It seems like the meal delivery business might actually still be cheaper. Because they can negotiate better rates with the food suppliers and buy in bulk? Just a thought.