Breaking news: a first-of-its kind scientific study shows that meal kits are better for the environment than the grocery store. A lot better. Meals prepared from store-bought groceries are responsible for 33% more greenhouse gas emissions than an equivalent dish from a meal kit, according to a PhD lead study published in Resources, Conservation and Recycling journal.1
The meal kit industry has boomed in recent years, offering customers the ability to cook home-made meals without the hassle of buying groceries, budgeting, recipe planning, or prep work. Take America's #1 meal kit, HelloFresh, for example. For as little as $6.99 per meal, HelloFresh ships a weekly box to customer's doors that has everything they need for dinner: detailed recipe cards with cooking instructions, and fresh produce and ingredients that have been pre-prepped. Customers can choose between 17 worldly dishes every week, which can go from box to table in just about 30 minutes or less. Even more amazingly, there is something for everyone: HelloFresh offers vegetarian plans and options under 500 calories like Mediterannean Baked Veggies for health-conscious consumers, family plans for larger groups with plenty of steak dinners, and even gourmet options for those looking to up the ante on dinner and have a few extra minutes to dedicate to creating gourmand cuisine. All in all, it's no wonder millions of people are trusting HelloFresh at dinner time.
However, many wrongly assumed that meal kits used more packaging than grocery stores, making them a poor choice for environmentally-friendly users. Despite rising meal kit popularity, the phenomenon has been understudied until now. The recent studies make it clear: meal kits are much better for the environment than meals prepared using groceries. Why? Because HelloFresh sends customers exactly what they need to cook fresh meals, no more and no less, they eliminate groceries that go unused in the refrigerator and have to be thrown away. Plus, most people may not realize that grocery stores themselves are responsible for a huge amount of food waste, throwing away tons of food each year.
It turns out, food waste is a way bigger problem than you might think. "We waste somewhere between 30% to 40% of the food that we produce, which is just a mind-boggling number," the study's lead author Brent Heard, a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan's School for Environment and Sustainability, told Time.2 All in all, the environmental impact of the production of all that wasted food has a much larger carbon footprint than the relatively small amounts of extra plastic or cardboard meal kits use to keep food fresh.
What's the takeaway? If you've been interested in a meal kit, but doubts kept you from pulling the trigger, consider this: by getting a subscription to HelloFresh, you're not just putting home cooked meals on the table with minimal effort, you're helping save the environment for generations to come.