Real Life Review: Are Meal Kits Worth It for Singles?

Real Life Review: Are Meal Kits Worth It for Singles?
The pot-roast chicken dinner kit from Marley Spoon. (Image: Lifehacker)
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Like most of you, I regularly get hit with ads for discounted meal kits. And they’re usually pretty heavy discounts, so it’s tempting. But living by myself, I’ve always wondered if dinner kits are worth it for singles.

The folks at Dinnerly (info here) and Marley Spoon (info here) sent me a box of meals to give it a shot. A few disclaimers:

  • I am not delicate about food – I eat a lot.
  • Most of the meal kits require extra ingredients from your own pantry, which I wasn’t really prepared for.
  • These are not meals that can be frozen, so if you’re by yourself you’ll need to eat the second portion the following day before it goes off.

20-Minute Korean Beef Tacos with Pickled Cucumber – Dinnerly

Very easy to make but the portions are so small I smashed through all six tiny tacos in one sitting. At least no need to worry about what to do with leftovers.

There’s quite a bit of plastic packing with all the individually wrapped ingredients in meal kits. I didn’t have any mayonnaise in my fridge that wasn’t well past its use by date, so I had to forgo that step. The quick pickling was a game-changer — I’ll definitely be making that again.

Smoky Chicken Spaghetti – Dinnerly

Ok, this is a massive serve, although I did cook the entire 250g packet of spaghetti that came in the kit even though the recipe only called for three-quarters of it. (I do not believe that urban myth about pasta portions — I buy my spaghetti in bulk and I have no regrets.)

I didn’t have any tomato paste in my pantry, so that step was skipped, but the sauce was still pretty rich. I ended up splitting the leftovers for breakfast and lunch the next day. Bit weird eating chicken spaghetti for breakfast, but I tried to look at it as an upmarket version of tinned spaghetti.

Bacon and Veggie Fried Rice with Water Chestnuts – Dinnerly

I actually had all the extra ingredients for this meal kit. It was easy to make, but you do end up throwing out half the tin of water chestnuts, which kind of grates on me because I hate waste. I will say that eating leftover fried rice for breakfast is a major hangover vibe even when you haven’t had a drop of alcohol.

Chicken Tacos with Tomato Salsa & Lime Aioli – Marley Spoon

Now, these tacos are packed with fillings. So much so I could only eat four of the six the recipe makes. Plus this kit comes with the mayonnaise, and the only extras I needed from my pantry was olive oil. There are lots of veggies stuffed in these tacos — carrot, cucumber, tomato and spinach.

Plus they made for a pretty decent breakfast — I just zapped the leftover tortillas in the microwave and left the chicken cold.

Pot-Roast Chicken with Raisin Relish – Marley Spoon

This was the meal kit I was looking forward to most — a classic slow-cooked chicken dinner. And it did not disappoint. Yes, there’s a bit more work with this recipe, but the slow cooker takes care of the bulk of it. It tasted just like an epic roast dinner you would get at a country pub.

The stuffing (which you make in a fry pan) and relish will be staying with me — they’d be perfect for adding to some simple grilled chicken or oven-baked drumsticks if you don’t have time for chicken marylands. I saved this one ’til last so I could eat the leftovers for dinner the following day, and it came up a treat reheated all on one plate in the microwave.

The verdict: The meal kits are a nice way of trying new recipes and there are definitely elements I will try again. But there was a lot of waste from all the packaging of individual ingredients.

Long-term I think you’re better off finding a few recipes that you love that you can batch cook and freeze in individual portions. That way you’ve got quick meals on hand without the waste.

Comments

  • I subscribed to Marley Spoon for a couple of months. I found that about 25% of the meals were good, 50% were OK and 25% were terrible. The cost was high, including delivery charge $30 for a meal supposedly for two but in reality fed one with a little bit left over.

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