Wel­come to ‘din­ner on your doorstep’

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - To learn more, visit Con­sumerRe­ports.org.

There you are, at the end of a long work­day, stand­ing in front of an open re­frig­er­a­tor, won­der­ing, “What in the world am I go­ing to make for din­ner?”

For a grow­ing num­ber of Amer­i­cans, meal kit de­liv­ery ser­vices pro­vide the an­swer, says Con­sumer Re­ports. Ev­ery week, you pick sev­eral meals from an ever-chang­ing list of of­fer­ings on a com­pany’s web­site, and a few days later, a box packed with chilled, pre­mea­sured in­gre­di­ents and de­tailed cook­ing in­struc­tions ar­rives on your doorstep.

It’s a trend that be­gan in 2012, then took off. To­day there are more than 100 meal kit com­pa­nies in the United States, and new ones are spring­ing up all the time.

But do the kits de­liver on the easy, healthy and fresh fronts? Con­sumer Re­ports’ food and nu­tri­tion ex­perts, ad­mit­tedly ex­pe­ri­enced cooks, or­dered from five pop­u­lar ser­vices to try them. They also asked 57 meal kit users (some of whom de­scribe them­selves as be­gin­ners in the kitchen) to re­port on their ex­pe­ri­ence.

Are they healthy?

The in­gre­di­ents were in­deed fresh, but not all of the ser­vices pro­vided enough nu­tri­tion info for their meals. Hello Fresh listed the most – calo­ries, fat, sat­u­rated fat, carbohydrates, pro­tein, fiber, sodium and sug­ars – on their recipe cards. Oth­ers pro­vided only calo­ries.

Most of the meals in­cluded a

gen­er­ous amount of vegeta­bles. For ex­am­ple, Green Chef’s recipes had 2½ to 4½ cups (be­fore cook­ing) per serv­ing. But that wasn’t a given: Blue Apron’s Pork Tteok­bokki As­para­gus with Spicy

Black Bean Sauce had just five spears of as­para­gus for two peo­ple.

Con­sumer Re­ports’ big­gest con­cern was the high sodium con­tent of many of the meals. Al­most ev­ery recipe that was tested called for sea­son­ing the in­gre­di­ents with salt sev­eral times – as many as five times for one recipe.

Do they taste good?

Yes! Twenty-four of the 27 recipes Con­sumer Re­ports tested re­ceived an Ex­cel­lent or a Very Good score for taste. What’s more, they may be a smart way to broaden your fam­ily’s palate.

Some con­sumers, es­pe­cially Gen X-ers and baby boomers, are driven to use

the kits to es­cape a cui­sine com­fort zone, ac­cord­ing to Michael Joseph, founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Green Chef, one of two ser­vices with an Ex­cel­lent Rat­ing in the test­ing. Prac­ti­cally ev­ery per­son on the user panel said they liked be­ing able to ex­plore dif­fer­ent flavors.

What’s the cost of con­ve­nience?

All things be­ing equal, you’ll usu­ally pay much more per por­tion for a meal from one of th­ese ser­vices than you would if you cooked the same meal with in­gre­di­ents you bought your­self at a su­per­mar­ket.

But all things may not be equal. For ex­am­ple, if you have a cab­i­net full of spices you’ve used only once or you of­ten throw away most of a bunch of pars­ley be­cause a recipe calls for only ¼ cup, th­ese kits may ac­tu­ally be a good fi­nan­cial deal be­cause you aren’t buy­ing more of an in­gre­di­ent than you need.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.