Are Meal Kits More Expensive Than Buying the Groceries Yourself? I Did the Math

Are Meal Kits More Expensive Than Buying the Groceries Yourself? I Did the Math

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All the ingredients to make a tangy hoisin pork meatloaf.

David Watsky/CNET

There’s little question as to whether meal kits are convenient. Having all the ingredients (mostly) measured out and sent to your doorstep to whip together a fast dinner will unquestionably save time and energy. The most common misgiving folks have about meal kits is the cost, and, in the early days of Blue Apron, they wouldn’t be wrong. But times have changed and the meal kit may no longer be a pricey date-night splurge.

Certain modern meal kit services have slashed the bottom-line cost and, in my experience, a few of the cheaper meal kit services still deliver healthy and tasty meals on the regular. The best budget meal kit I’ve tried is EveryPlate. With meal kits as low as $5 a serving, it got me wondering how much some of those meal kits would cost compared to the price of the ingredients in a store.

Meal kit vs. grocery store

EveryPlate meal kits Groceries purchased from the store
Cost per serving $7.39 $5.26

So how did I get these numbers? I’m glad you asked. 

To calculate how expensive meal kits are when compared to buying the groceries, I took two EveryPlate recipes and priced out the ingredients. To keep things consistent, I used the cheapest results that populated on FreshDirect, a popular online grocery delivery service here in the Northeast.

Since spices are generally only sold in 1- or 2-ounce bottles, I divided the cost by 20 since each bottle of spices contains roughly 20 servings. The same goes for items like sour cream and soy sauce, which are sold in larger quantities. I divided the total cost by roughly how much you’d need to execute each recipe. 

Read moreBest Cheap Meal Delivery Services in 2022

How much does a meal kit service like EveryPlate cost?

EveryPlate is one of the cheapest meal kit services, with most plans clocking in at $5 a serving. For a meal plan for two people and three meals per week, it’s slightly more at $5.89 a serving. I used the costlier two-person plan to compare with the cost of buying your own groceries. There’s also a $9 flat shipping cost which I divided by the three meals. When it’s all said and done, EveryPlate will cost you $7.39 a serving. 


EveryPlate is my favorite budget-friendly meal kit service and will run you about $7 a serving when you factor in shipping.


How much meal kits would cost if you bought the groceries

Below is a breakdown of what two EveryPlate recipes would cost if you bought the groceries yourself.  These prices were calculated from FreshDirect in early April of 2022. I didn’t include the delivery fees for a grocery service or the cost of gas required to get yourself to and from the store. And it’s also worth noting that the grocery prices listed below are significantly cheaper than what I normally find at my local markets in Brooklyn.

Smothered pork chops with home fries and carrots (2 servings)

  • Carrots (12 ounces): $1.50
  • Five Yukon gold potatoes: $1.50
  • One yellow onion: $0.90
  • Two scallions: $0.50
  • Two 5-ounce pork chops: $4.93
  • One packet of chicken stock concentrate: $0.60
  • Cayenne pepper: $0.20
  • Sour cream (2 ounces): $1.50

Total: $11.13

Cost per serving: $5.56

Cherry meatballs with zucchini and garlic mashed potatoes (2 servings)

  • Five Yukon gold potatoes: $1.60
  • White bread (one slice): $0.50
  • One zucchini: $1.50
  • Ground beef (8 ounces): $3.50
  • Cherry jam (1 ounce): $0.85
  • Garlic powder: $0.10
  • Sour cream (2 ounces): $1.50
  • Soy sauce (1 ounce): $0.50

Total: $10.05

Cost per serving: $5.02

How much more is a meal kit than buying groceries?

When compared to the cost of buying all the necessary groceries at the store, EveryPlate clocks in at around $2 more per serving. If you were to pick one of the plans with servings for four, it would be more like $1 more. So, it’s pretty much a wash.

At the end of the day, it’s convenience you’re paying a little extra for. But if you choose a budget-friendly service such as EveryPlate or Dinnerly, that “little extra” turns out to be barely anything at all. 

Read more: EveryPlate Review: See How the Cheapest Meal Kit Service Holds Up in a Test

What about the environmental cost, packaging and waste?

There’s no doubt that meal kit services use more plastic than if you buy your own groceries. That said, the cheaper services have found ways to cut costs. In many cases, that means using less packaging. 


The inside of a HelloFresh shipment with its mostly recyclable packaging. 

Shelby Brown/CNET

EveryPlate, for instance, is one of the most eco-friendly services I’ve tried. The company puts all its produce and many of the other ingredients in one cardboard box, whereas others individually package each ingredient, creating more waste. Most of the packaging, including the cooler box and ice packs, are also curbside recyclable. 

On the flip side, since meal kits generally give you exactly what you need for each meal and no more, you’re less likely to have food waste. We’ve all thrown out those last few ounces from a tub of sour cream or a couple of scallions you couldn’t find a use for before they wilted away. 

What about other meal kit services?

EveryPlate is the cheapest meal kit service, along with Dinnerly. The most expensive outfits including Sunbasket, Green Chef and Blue Apron cost closer to $10 or $13 a serving. The added cost is generally due to premium ingredients like grass-fed beef and organic produce. For those, you’re going to find a bigger delta between the meal kit cost and what it would cost to make the meal at home. Services like HelloFresh and Home Chef fall somewhere in the middle with meal kits ranging from around $8 and $10 a serving.

Not interested in cooking at all? I tested all the top players to find the best prepared meal services in 2022.  

Even more on meal delivery 

  • EveryPlate Review: See How the Cheapest Meal Kit Service Holds Up in a Test
  • How We Test Meal Kits
  • Best seafood delivery services in 2022
  • Best Meal Delivery Deals: Daily Harvest, ButcherBox, HelloFresh and More
  • Best Meat Delivery Services for 2022: Porter Road, Rastelli’s, ButcherBox and More
  • Best Prepared Meal Delivery Service for 2022
  • Best Cheap Meal Delivery Services in 2022
  • Best Meal Kit Delivery Service for 2022
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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