Meal kits are quite possibly the greatest invention of the decade when it comes to deciding on dinner.
Let me backup from that bold statement. I’m not a subscriber. I have many friends and family members who use the services. I’ve been gifted a few meals from people who unexpectedly had to go out of town and just got a delivery. And I loved them!
IDK, what do you want?
Meal kits are amazing from a few standpoints. One: they minimize that daily family question of “what should I make for dinner.” This question is usually met with an infuriating, “I don’t know” or “I don’t care,” response, which can cause dinner prepper’s heads to explode.
With meal delivery, the options are preselected and once delivered, there are a merciful few choices to make. Chicken or fish? Tacos or noodles? And from there, everything falls into place.
They Teach Meal Design and Planning
Recipe books don’t teach you meal design, that is, how to plan for a complete meal (e.g., protein, veggies, and starch). They don’t usually say, “this x goes great with y.” Even if they do, its an after-thought. They also don’t teach cooking efficiency or portioning, e.g., how to mirepoix for an entire meal and cook multiple items at once for a family of four, with enough leftovers for a lunch or two.
The other night I fiddled with a new recipe I’m developing for chicken. It was pretty good. But I was so focused on trying out this new marinade for the chicken, and planning how I was going to cook it, that I completely forgot about a need for other things on the plate.
Luckily I had some leftover rice. Paired with carrots, celery, green onions, and an egg, I was able to throw together some fried rice for a side dish. However, I really prefer a lot more vegetables on our plates, and the meal would have been far more cohesive if I’d roasted those carrots, onions, and celery under the chicken. Such decisions need to be made early in the process.
I’ve kept the recipe cards that come with the meal kits I’ve used. Sometimes I use them to build my shopping list.
Psychology: Peace of mind and empowerment
Most of us are amateurs. I consider myself fairly deft in the kitchen, but I still make tons of mistakes and fall into ruts. Meal kits take out the “oops” factor of cooking. They expand your repertoire while minimizing the risk of failure.
For those who aren’t as comfortable with cooking on a daily basis, they help you feel proud of your accomplishments (and they ARE accomplishments). Successes in life, no matter how small, give you dopamine rushes and make you want to return to those activities. Each time you go back, you get better.
Although some might downplay the process as “I’m just following the instructions,” the truth is that cooking is an act of physical memory-making. Your body remembers the actions you take when you are following those instructions.
In college, a professor had us write out our favorite passages from books and poems in a notebook. We were required to do at least 1000 words each week. His reasoning was that the act of writing out those words would give us the physical memory of developing great works, thereby elevating our own writing. I don’t know if it worked, but I always thought it was a beautiful process.
Meal kits are skill builders that might make you want to experiment, to branch out. It can turn cooking an artful process. Even if it doesn’t, you’ll still get some mighty good dinner on the table.