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Food box VS meal delivery services: what’s the difference?

There are so many new foodie terms that didn't exist just 10 years ago! Food boxes, meal kits, meal delivery, food bags....what do these all mean?! We take a look at food boxes and meal delivery services, so you can decide which is right for you.

Food box VS meal delivery services: what’s the difference? June 4, 2019Leave a comment

There are two distinct types of meal delivery services: food boxes (also called a meal kit), and prepared meal delivery services. You probably already have a general idea of what it is you prefer, but to help you decide we’ve pulled together a general user guide, along with some pros and cons, for each:

  • Go to our food box delivery service guide
  • Go to our prepared meal delivery service guide

In a nutshell, food box services will deliver a bunch of fresh ingredients on your doorstep each week along with corresponding recipes. It is your job to prepare the ingredients, and cook the meal. With prepared meal delivery services, your meal is ready in just a few minutes with minor preparation (often just throwing it in the microwave).

Food box delivery services

A food box delivery service provides a number of recipes, and all the ingredients required to prepare those recipes, in a handy box delivered on your doorstep once a week. It is your job to actually prepare the meals.

A food box is for those people who have the time to cook and enjoy cooking but want to lose a little bit of the admin involved in cooking. Food boxes mean you don’t have to flick through your cookbook to choose a recipe, which can take a while if you are lacking inspiration or just a bit indecisive. Food boxes also keep you away from the supermarket so you can go straight home after work and know that you have all the ingredients required to cook a healthy home cooked meal.

There are a few things you need to know before committing to a food box:

  • You’ll need to have all the typical pantry essentials such as salt, sugar, butter, oil, milk etc. Sometimes you might get caught short halfway through cooking a meal if you don’t regularly check your staples are in the pantry. To make sure you aren’t caught short your first delivery from any food box will typically have a small intro pack that states which staples you are expected to provide yourself.
  • With most food boxes you can see the coming weeks recipes in advance, but often you can’t change them out if you don’t like the look of a recipe. So if there is a kumara mash in next weeks meal, you’ll have to chuck it in the bin (sorry, I hate it!) and make something else.
  • There has been a bit of a fuss here in New Zealand about the amount of packaging used in food boxes, but times have moved on a little and many of the boxes are recycled or re-used, with local brand Woop putting a lot of effort into sustainability.

There are a number of food box delivery services available in New Zealand:

BrandDescription
“hellofreshBerlin-based HelloFresh came to New Zealand in September 2018 and has a range of plans that have proved popular with Kiwis. Read full HelloFresh Review
“woopWoop currently has four food boxes available, including a gluten-free box. Woop currently delivers to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, Tauranga, Palmerston North, Rotorua. Read full Woop Review
“myMy Food Bag is New Zealand's own home-grown food box, co-founded by celebrity chef Nadia Lim. There are currently a number of boxes available, from classic, to low calorie, to bags for couples, and bags for families. Read full My Food Bag Review
“bargainBargain Box is bought to you by the team behind Myfoodbag. Bargain box lets you choose to feed two, four or six mouths, and either three or five meals per week.
Read full Bargain Box Review

Yep

  • You’ll learn new cooking skills and recipes
  • If you enjoy cooking you’ll still get to spend time in the kitchen
  • You’ll get to try a whole heat of new flavours
  • Teach the kids how to cook
  • There is still 20 – 40 minutes worth or preparation needed
  • You may have to make recipes you don’t find appealing

 

Prepared meal delivery services

Services such as PapagaioJUKplate upEATFitFood, or Fed sell fully prepared meals. Your “prep” time drops dramatically from 20 to 40 minutes (as with the food boxes above) to just 2 or 3 minutes.

In many cases, ordering is as simple as choosing from the brand’s website which meals you want from their range, and the chilled meals will be delivered to your doorstep on your selected delivery date.

Check out some of the recipes provided by JUK below, and their prices, to get an idea of what these services provide. These recipes are taken from the JUK Frozen Meals menu…

juk recipes nz

There have been surveys completed showing that people who use these prepared meal delivery services actually consider them better value than using a food box service. Buying your meals from any of the services below is typically more expensive than buying the ingredients from the local supermarket, but you save in other areas; no time spent driving to the supermarket, no time spent preparing the meal, less petrol wasted swinging via the supermarket on the way home, and less worry about what to cook at nights. So if you’re a busy person and value your time then using these prepared meals is definitely worthwhile.

BrandDescription
“jukBerlin-based HelloFresh came to New Zealand in September 2018 and has a range of plans that have proved popular with Kiwis.
“plateWoop currently has four food boxes available, including a gluten-free box. Woop currently delivers to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, Tauranga, Palmerston North, Rotorua.
“papagaioMy Food Bag is New Zealand's own home-grown food box, co-founded by celebrity chef Nadia Lim. There are currently a number of boxes available, from classic, to low calorie, to bags for couples, and bags for families.

Yep

  • Minimal (if any) preparation
  • Easily used for either lunch or dinner
  • Buy exactly what you want with some brands
  • No cleaning cooking utensils
  • You’re not improving your cooking skills
  • Pay a little premium over doing it yourself

One thing you might be asking yourself is “can’t I just by these prepared meals from the supermarket?” and you’re right, you can. They’ll be cheaper at the supermarket, but you’ll probably find there is less range and less hearty food. Take another look at the JUK menu items above…I don’t think you’ll find that quality of prepared meals in your local supermarket.

What’s the deal with UberEats?

UberEats is closer to the prepared meal delivery service than it is to a food box. With UberEats, a local Uber driver picks up a meal of your of choice from a nearby restaurant or takeaways and delivers it immediately to your door.

So you get one meal immediately. No recurring plans like a prepared meal delivery service.

How does UberEats work?

Once you’ve downloaded the app, entered your delivery address, and linked up to your payment information (typically your credit card), you can browse nearby eateries and choose what you would like delivered.

I live in Glenfield on Auckland’s North Shore, so when I browse the available food I see placed in Albany, Takapuna, Bayview, Northcote, and of course Glenfield. There are a number of independent stores, along with some well-known brands such as Subway, The Coffee Club, McDonald’s, Pita Pit, and Dunkin Donuts. I’m writing this UberEats review at 5.45am and right now every place is closed (as you’d expect) except for Night ‘n Day in Albany which is offering a bag of Doritos, Hot Dog with Sauce, Wedges, Ice Cream, and a number of other typical petrol station type food.

Listed as popular on my UberEats app for people living nearby is Thai Thai Takeaway, Kai Eatery, Pacific Ocean Choice, Kebab King, and The Smoothie Bowl.

Once I’ve decided what I want I add it to my cart just like any online store, and can leave some special instructions for the chefs in the kitchens if required. After the order is confirmed the nearest UberEats driver will pick up the meal and deliver it – normally within 20 minutes I’ve found.

You can expect a delivery charge of around $6 to $10 dollars – which is on par to what you would pay for a Hells Pizza or Dominos delivery.

Joining UberEats

Joining UberEats is easy. Head to the UberEats website and have your credit card handy to set up your account. You’ll be up and running and browsing your nearby options within about 3 minutes, with your first delivery not long after you choose what you want to eat.

Still struggling with what to choose?

If you still don’t know what is right for you, we suggest starting with a food box such as Hellofresh, My Food Bag, or Woop. We’ve written pretty extensive reviews of each of these brands which you can find below:

Food boxes are closer to what you are used too, I assume. Most couples, flatters, and families go to the supermarket and prepare their meals at home, so all a food box will do is cut out the trip to the supermarket. It’s not that big of a lifestyle change.

However, if you are currently living off fast food and takeaways, and want to keep your meals to literally 2 minutes preparation time, then it may pay to take a look at meal delivery services.

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