How Healthy Are Meal Kits?
Meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking can be a time-consuming chore. For some people, meal kit delivery services are a lifesaver in these endeavors.
However, meal kits may not always be the healthiest option for everyone. Here are some things to take into account before signing up for one of these meal kits:
When purchasing meal kits, the cost depends on which service you select, how many meals are ordered and your dietary needs. Services like EveryPlate offer two-person plans for only $5 a meal with recipe cards included – ideal for those on a budget or looking to save time by not cooking.
Meal kits also reduce food waste, a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Americans throw away approximately 133 billion pounds of food annually, according to Time magazine; this excess ends up in landfills where it emits millions of tons of greenhouse gases annually.
Food waste not only has detrimental effects on the environment, but it can be especially devastating if it ends up in rivers and oceans. Meal kits help combat this issue by providing fresh food directly to your door.
Meal kits also contribute to the environment by reducing their use of packaging. A recent study by researchers at the University of Michigan concluded that meal kits were more environmentally friendly than grocery store meals, reducing average greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent.
Comparing grocery-store meals to those from meal-kit services, the research team measured the emissions associated with transportation and production. It concluded that grocery-store meals had higher emissions than those from meal-kit companies due primarily to packaging used.
The meal-kit industry is growing rapidly, and some services have chosen to replace their traditional cardboard boxes with plastic-lined, insulated ones. Unfortunately, many of the materials from these kits – liners and ice packs included – cannot be recycled in most places.
Additionally, meal-kit packaging is often composed of non-recyclable materials like polystyrene and plastic baggies. This poses a major problem since many customers live in residential areas where recycling may not be an accessible option.
However, these environmental worries can be alleviated if the company you use employs sustainable practices. Some utilize biodegradable and compostable packaging, while others source their ingredients locally. Some even pledge to use 100 percent renewable energy in their operations – an important consideration for anyone who values the environment.
Meal kits are an increasingly popular way to reduce food waste and make nutritious meals at home. They deliver pre-portioned ingredients along with a chef-selected recipe right to your door – making them perfect for busy households that don’t have time to shop for ingredients themselves.
Research from the University of Michigan has revealed that meal kits have a lower environmental impact than their store-bought counterparts, even though they come with more packaging. Overall, greenhouse gas emissions were one-third lower for meal kit dinners when all steps of production from farm to landfill were considered.
It’s easy to see how this could be a beneficial factor for the environment, considering America generates 42 million metric tons of plastic annually (source: EcoWatch). Meal kit companies typically include recyclable material in their packaging, which helps reduce their overall impact on the environment.
Meal kits often bypass the traditional retail step by shipping directly to customers, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions related to distribution and supply chain losses. This is especially significant since food losses in grocery stores tend to be high.
Another factor that can reduce the environmental impact of meal kits is their packaging type. While some utilize recyclable kraft bags, others rely more on plastic.
These plastics can have a detrimental effect on the environment, especially when used in large amounts and over an extended period. As a result, some meal kit companies are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint by switching to more recyclable kraft bags and decreasing plastic ice packs.
For example, Hello Fresh Canada has been steadily decreasing their packaging by 45 per cent since 2017, and they now only use 50% non-recyclable ice packs.
According to a University of Michigan study, meals prepared with HelloFresh meal kits produced 25% less CO2e than their supermarket-sourced equivalents. Miller noted that this direct-to-consumer supply chain and precise ingredient amounts make their product an environmentally friendly option.
Eating a balanced diet is essential to help optimize metabolism and prevent nutritional deficiencies. Not only will this reduce your risk of weight gain, but it may also curb cravings for unhealthy food items.
One of the best ways to increase your food variety is by adding new components into your meals. This could involve trying different spices or items you have never tried before, or it could simply mean switching up what vegetables you consume.
For instance, if you typically eat pasta, substitute with lentils or rice instead to increase your fiber intake and feel full for longer.
Another way to enhance your food variety is by including different kinds of fruits and vegetables in each meal. These provide essential vitamins and minerals that your body requires for proper functioning.
In addition to fruits and vegetables, try adding other food groups like whole grains, lean protein and dairy products into your diet. Not only will these help you maintain a healthy weight, but they also ensure that your body gets all of the essential nutrients it requires for optimal wellbeing.
Meal kits for vegetarians, vegans and those on special diets such as keto or paleo are plentiful. Many even provide organic meals and other healthy choices.
When selecting a meal kit, take into account what is available in your area and which types of food are most suitable for you. For instance, some meal kits might be ideal if living near plenty of fresh produce like fruits and vegetables.
You can also search for companies that deliver to your area. Some meal delivery services deliver twice a week to guarantee freshness of their products.
Meal kits offer an economical, convenient way to get nutritious meals on the table. However, you should make sure the service meets both your needs and budget before signing up.
Meal kits offer a convenient and effortless way for people to make nutritious meals at home. Some kits even have recipes tailored for specific dietary needs like vegetarianism, gluten-free status or low calorie consumption. Furthermore, some come with pre-portioned ingredients and recipes – perfect for those who struggle with portion control issues.
Meal kit delivery services can be an excellent way to learn new cooking techniques without having to sacrifice time or energy. Plus, these services give you the chance to try different flavors and ingredients out on your own.
Anyone aspiring to improve their cooking abilities must consider this, as many get stuck in a rut when it comes to creating meals at home. Companies offer step-by-step instructions and recipes that can inspire you to try something new.
Though some meal kits may present more challenges than others, they can be an excellent opportunity to get more involved in the kitchen and boost your self-esteem. Plus, many meal kit providers boast registered dietitians on staff so you’re sure to find a recipe that meets both your needs and preferences.
Cooking at home is an essential skill for maintaining a healthy diet, especially among young adults who face food insecurity and have limited access to nutritious foods [5,6]. Therefore, it’s imperative to teach them cooking techniques as soon as possible.
Studies have indicated that improving food agency (the ability to plan, obtain and prepare nutritious foods) is essential for college students’ diets and health outcomes. One randomized intervention study utilized cooking classes and meal kit provision as a means of increasing college students’ food agency, diet quality, and at-home cooking frequency.
This study focused on building participants’ food agency, leading to improvements in their planning, procuring, and preparing skills as well as their ability to adjust daily circumstances that could disrupt these goals. They were better equipped to tackle challenges like food insecurity or lack of resources that can impede cooking or nutrition goals.