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You may know that individual meals can be delivered to your door. But did you know that this option could cost less than going out to a full-service restaurant – or even less than buying the ingredients from the grocery store and prepping them yourself?

If you've been managing your busy schedule by sitting in drive-thru lines for unhealthy food or shelling out too much for restaurant fare, then using an affordable food delivery service could be for you.

However, meal delivery services can get pricey. There are several factors to consider. Weigh the amount you'll spend per meal versus what you typically spend at the grocery store. If you've mastered the art of frugal grocery shopping and have a handle on the basics of cooking, other routes may be more economical.

But also consider the hassle factor. If you have small children, a packed schedule or otherwise find it difficult go grocery shopping, a meal delivery service may pay for itself by saving you a headache. It can also be a good option if you're not confident in your cooking skills, or find yourself wasting a lot of food.

Cook-It-Yourself Delivery Services

Typically, these meal delivery services send how-to directions and all the ingredients you need right to your door. Cooking times per recipe are typically between 30 and 60 minutes. Before you order, be sure to scour the web for a coupon code. For example, many podcasts are sponsored by meal delivery services, so check the websites of your favorites. That way you'll save money and support something you love.

Here are a few meal delivery services to mull:

  • Plated: Prices land between $9.95 and $11.95 per serving. Your first Plated meal comes free.
  • Green Chef: Cooking times for Green Chef meals should be 30 minutes or less. Servings cost between $10.49 and $14.99, with a $9.00 shipping charge per box. This service offers two free meals in your first week.
  • HelloFresh: Each serving of this subscription-based service costs between $8.74 and $9.99, depending on which box you choose.
  • Blue Apron: Depending on which subscription you choose, you'll pay between $8.99 and $9.99 per serving.
  • PeachDish: Servings start at $12.50. Be aware that there could be shipping charges depending on your state and whether you sign up for a subscription.

Reheat-and-Eat Delivery Services

These services provide fully cooked meals – all you need to do is heat them up. Reheating times range between one and seven minutes.

  • Freshly: These meals are never frozen, so you don't have to spend time thawing. All meals are free of gluten and refined sugar. The cost per serving is between $8.99 and $12.50. Note that they currently ship to only 27 states.
  • Prepped: This food delivery option comes with no plans or commitments attached. You do, however, need to order at least five meals at a time. Reheat your meals either by microwave (one to two minutes) or by stove top (five to seven minutes). Servings start at $9.99. Make sure that you live in one of the 26 states they're available in before ordering.


If you choose a meal delivery service, after three months reevaluate how much you've spent and compare it to your old budget. You may find that you're eating out less and saving money. Or you may find that you're spending more money but are saving on time. If you're not getting either benefit, reconsider if it's the right option for you.

Disclosures

This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

By selecting any external link on www.Key.com, you will leave the KeyBank website and jump to an unaffiliated third party website that may offer a different privacy policy and level of security. The third party is responsible for website content and system availability. KeyBank does not offer, endorse, recommend, or guarantee any product or service available on that entity's website.

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