Breaking news: a first-of-its kind scientific study shows that meal kits are better for the environment than the supermarket. A lot better. Meals prepared from shop-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 one of the most popular meal kits in the UK, HelloFresh, for example. For £5.00 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 21 worldly dishes every week, which can go from box to table in 30 minutes or less. Even more amazingly, there is something for everyone: HelloFresh offers vegetarian plans and balanced options with less calories, like Mediterranean Baked Veggies for health-conscious consumers, family plans for larger groups with plenty of steak dinners, and even rapid options for people that only have 15 minutes to spare. 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. And, meal kits' streamlined supply chain model (think getting from the farm to you with fewer middle men), eliminates a TON of carbon emissions caused by the grocery store's complicated, cross-national transport system. Plus, most people may not realize that supermarkets 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.