Knowledge Base

Are Meal Kits Good for the Environment?

Cookbox Meal Kit

So you’ve ordered a meal kit from one of your favourite meal kit companies and you can’t wait to get cooking. Upon opening the box, all the excitement of cooking a delicious meal goes out the door when you see all the plastic being used. Immediately you wonder if this box of amazingly fresh ingredients is really that good for the environment.

Don’t worry you are not the only one raising a concern about how “environmentally friendly” meal kits are. Luckily we’ve done some research to put your concerns at ease.

Okay so let’s begin with why you should make use of meal kits.

Firstly, meal kits are super convenient. You don’t have to drive all the way to the shops to get 2 cloves of garlic for your Shepherd’s Pie. Or the tub of cream for your Creamy Tagliatelle. You don’t have to spend precious time on deciding what to cook for dinner for the week. Well with Cookbox, you don’t have to plan for the whole week because we deliver in 2 days. Check out our delivery schedule.

Secondly, you are guaranteed that you will be eating a really delicious home cooked meal for dinner. And not some “baked beans on a piece of toast” kind of vibe. With most of the meal kit companies, you can choose between a variety of diets such as Vegetarian, Vegan,etc.

Beef and Rosemary Shepherd's Pie
Beef and Rosemary Shepherd’s Pie

Alright, you may be saying “Hey, those are only the benefits! And the negative impact that all the packaging materials have on the environment outweigh the advantages.”

The Research

Yes, most people won’t touch a meal kit with a 10ft pole because of the perceived environmental impact of all that extra packaging.

But a new study published in the journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling may put away any doubts that you may have had. The study reveals, that the average meal sourced from a grocery store is responsible for 33% more greenhouse gas emissions than a similar dish from a meal kit. Basically, meal kits aren’t really that harmful to the environment, in fact, meals sourced from grocery shopping are much worse.

Shelie Miller, professor at the University of Michigan, says that, “When we’re talking about meal kits, we tend to focus on plastic and packaging.” Miller notes that we need to take a much bigger view, from when things are produced all the way to when they’re disposed. When you take that view, the environmental impacts often are surprising.

Sesame Crusted Halloumi with Veg Fried Rice and Sweet Chilli Sauce
Sesame Crusted Halloumi with Veg Fried Rice

Remember, meal kits cut down on food wastage significantly. This is because each ingredient is measured and portioned precisely according to the recipe. According to Miller, meal kits are significantly more sustainable than grocery store meals, because they produce less food wastage which affects the environment in multiple ways. As wasted or leftover food rots in landfills, it produces more methane.

Co author of the study, Brent Heard, states that we waste somewhere between 30% to 40% of the food that we produce. This really motivates the need to consider the amount of food that we’re purchasing.

We waste somewhere between 30% to 40% of the food that we produce…

It is also more environmentally friendly for a delivery truck to deliver food to consumers’ doorsteps, rather than having each person make an independent trip to the grocery store.

The Conclusion

Minute Steaks with Sun Dried Tomato Butter and Quick Fry Veggies
Minute Steaks with Sun Dried Tomato Butter and Quick Fry Veggies

So, instead of focusing only on the plastic being used in the packaging, it is important for consumers to be aware of the entire food cycle.

Consumers should be more mindful of how much food they buy versus how much they actually consume. Consumers should actually plan how many ingredients they will be using to prepare home made meals. That is the beauty of a meal kit, you don’t have to plan ahead or think of how you will be using the leftover chicken breast, because it already comes portioned to your doorstep.

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