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A College Student's Guide
to Meal Services
I remember when I was younger, my mom made spaghetti and sauce from scratch for a childhood friend. She tasted it and pushed the food aside. My mom could see she was not enjoying it and asked her if everything was okay. She stated she had not tasted sauce like my moms and was used to her mom’s recipe. My mom asked her about the recipe; it was straight ketchup. I use this story to illustrate that everyone has different tastes. With that in mind, we turned to college students to sample various meal kits as an alternative to signing up for a meal plan or cooking on their own. Votes are in. Read on, for thoughts, comments, and opinion.
While Plated and Blue Apron tasted the best, I don’t think most college students have 40 plus minutes to cook a meal with our busy schedules. Spoon University is geared toward college students with many items being microwavable plus fresh fruit and snacks. And they are certainly comparable to the meals I get in my sorority house. I personally would add some additional spices to them.
Before signing up, I would definitely look at Groupon, RetailMeNot, and Facebook for coupons making it even more reasonably priced. Another tip is to look at your credit card rewards; many times they offer a percentage or dollar off when you purchase from a specific retailer, which adds to any additional savings. You could theoretically use a coupon code to get a great deal and then get more savings by paying with a specific card.
A College Student’s Review
I am not sure what is worse; realizing that all you have in your pantry is ramen and goldfish or dishing out the bucks for delivery every night. Meal delivery services are a great way to keep your kitchen stocked without taking one trip to the grocery store. Not to mention, there are so many options for vegetarians, meat-lovers or students who just want to eat healthily. Well, here it is folks, your go-to guide to meal kits from a college student’s (hungry) perspective.
Every Plate – Daily, we see ads for meal plan delivery subscriptions. One that caught our eye, was Every Plate. What made this one stand out? Let’s talk about the price because staying on budget is a big factor when selecting the meal plan you decide to go with. Every Plate costs $29 (with shipping, $35) for the two-person, three meals per week plan. Before you say, “but I am only one person,” let us tell you why this plan is so ideal. The amount of food that comes with each meal is great for one person for dinner with leftovers to have for lunch the next day. We actually do not recommend this meal plan for two people to use for dinner, as the portion size is just not enough.
Let’s talk about food preparation. All ingredients come with your box except for the basic items most people have in their household, including butter, salt, and pepper. The ingredients do not come chopped, so plan on prepping your dish before cooking. That said, with Every Plate you can expect to spend about 35-45 minutes on each meal. We recommend Every Plate for someone who doesn’t mind cooking or actually enjoys it since it is timely and does require your attention. Now how would we rate the food? The food is good in terms of quality and taste and price.
Choose from 12 delicious and affordable recipes that change with every week. THEY DELIVER, Everything you need is shipped to your door. YOU DEVOUR, Home-cooked deliciousness is ready in 30 minutes!
Get your first week of meals at $3.99 with EveryPlate!
Gobble -I have never been a fan of cooking. I love food and trying new things, but the thought chopping vegetables, preparing marinades, and then waiting for all of it to be done, makes me run for the hills (or to UberEats). Being that I am pescatarian with slight lactose intolerance who tries to be health-conscious (a mouthful, I know), it can sometimes be difficult to find meals that check off all the boxes. I’ve tried all kinds of meal delivery kits, and have found some of them make cooking easier, but Gobble takes the gold on this search.
I selected the below three meals for my week: Pan-Seared Barramundi served with fennel, carrots, and green harissa with feta cheese, Black Pepper Tofu served with stir fry vegetables and jasmine rice, and Thai Basil Salmon served with green beans, sweet peppers, and cashews. All ingredients come in one bag. One negative is the amount of plastic bags but Gobble took 10 minutes to prep and 15 minutes to cook with less than ten steps – that’s it! The vegetables come cut, though some recipes may require you to cut into smaller pieces. The protein comes in serving size, so you don’t have to worry about what 5 oz. really looks like. Cooking requires minimal dishes, which makes cleaning up simple. For an affordable price, Gobble is a great option for anyone! Students can cook their own dinners in less than 20-30 minutes after a long day of class or studying, and have leftovers for lunch the next day – plus did we mention, it’s delicious!
If you’re looking for a quick and easy option, Gobble is a great one! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!
Dinnerly – I picked three vegetarian meals to test out – ordering the 3 meals per week for 2-3 people. Everything was individually packaged and all I had to supply were the cookware, some oil, eggs, sugar, and pepper. TheVeggie Pad See Ew was super easy to make; you do need to cut up the vegetables but the entire process took a total of 30 minutes and there was more than enough to serve 3 people (we even had leftovers). We also made the fajita-style veggie tacos – again very easy to make – I would add in some cotija or fresco cheese- and, if you are not vegetarian, add in other proteins. The last dish was the garlic knot cheese ravioli – Super easy to make but you do need a box grater. You can skip weeks and you do need to either print out the recipe or pull it up digitally because that is one of the ways they can keep the prices down (along with fewer ingredients per dish and simple packaging). We paid $23.93 for all 3 meals taking advantage of a special they had. The main thing I loved about this was the fresh vegetables and the simplicity.
Angelic Bakehouse: About 10 years ago, I decided to make a change to my eating style. One of those changes was to try to minimize the amount of bread I was eating. Back then, there were not as many tasteful options but that has drastically changed. I am a big fan of sprouted bread and whole grains. I use them for making sandwiches, wraps, even pizzas. Whether you want to order for yourself or perhaps get some for your student, this will allow them to make nutritious meals- they even have great recipes.
Green Chef: This was a great meal kit for the price! It was a little tedious, but the meals were yummy. The portions were large and I was able to split the meals between 2 people and still have room for lunch. Green Chef is a great vegetarian option with a lot of variety! The miso tofu bowl was delicious, as was the Mediterranean couscous and vegetable pasta. The meals were great for the amateur to average chefs. They definitely beat the dining hall vegetarian options! Check Groupon for discounts.
Hungry Root: Very ideal for college students! You only need minimal kitchen tools and extra ingredients (oil, etc) and can make a variety of yummy recipes. The sauces are premade which is great for new chefs and efficiency. These were by far the quickest meals to make. However, they were also the simplest, often consisting of only a few ingredients. If you’re looking for super quick, healthy and easy meals this is a great choice! They have a ton of vegan options, but also some non-vegan. Loved that the pasta was Banza and they had well-known healthy brands such as Kite Hill. My order came with a bonus free chickpea cookie dough which was soooo good!
Purple Carrot – This vegan meal kit literally blew my mind. If you’re comfortable in the kitchen and spending 40 minutes for restaurant-worthy meals, this is definitely worth trying. These kits come with every ingredient, and the outcome was delish! I tried the following:
- Muhammara stuffed sweet potatoes topped with chickpeas, cucumber mint relish, and a red pepper vinaigrette
- Coconut Cauliflower ramen (much easier and quicker than the above!)
- Punjabi Kadhi with Spinach Dumplings and Mango Chutney
- Moroccan Carrot Pancakes
- Italian Cannellini Bean Stew
It can be difficult cooking and finding new vegan recipes, especially in a college town, so if you’re looking for gourmet vegan meals made with quality ingredients, I would highly recommend giving Purple Carrot a try! Even for just a few meals a week, this meal kit is a great substitute for your usual vegan chicken nugs and veggie burger!
Veestro – Different from many meal plan options, Veestro comes fully prepared with only 5-10 minutes of cooking time. No prep, no dicing, and slicing, and most importantly, no dishes needed. Veestro makes having a fully vegetarian and organic meal quite simple for those that get home from class late at night or don’t have the equipment and supplies to sauté and bake. Veestro arrives at your door packed with ice to ensure it stays frozen until you get home. Once you receive it, simply keep it in your freezer until it’s mealtime. We tried multiple ways of preparing the dish, in the microwave and on the stovetop, and both delivered results that made the meals taste as though you cooked it from scratch. Most of the meals were great and we would definitely recommend this delivery company. The only setback would be that some of the meals may come across bland as there’s very little salt and sodium in the product. If this is the case, simply spread some seasoning or sauce on your food depending on your personal taste.
A solid vegetarian option for the student who loves to cook and has about 30 minutes to spare! Hello Fresh has definitely expanded their vegetarian options and our choices turned out delish. We chose two vegetarian dishes and one with shrimp since we’re pescatarian. The sweet potato fajitas were easy to prepare and had just enough spice! After 30 minutes of prep and cooking, I was always really happy and satisfied with the turnout! The quantity is also plenty for 2 people (Split with your roommate like us for cheaper prices!) or if you want to save the rest for leftovers (library lunch!) The shrimp tacos were also an amazing yummy dinner and suppressed my craving for Chipotle that week (mission impossible.) Another great vegetarian meal was the mediterranean couscous, which I brought to work for a few lunches and it really filled me up. Not to mention, I got tons of compliments on how good it looked and smelled, so now my coworkers think i’m a great chef. I ordered mine by purchasing from Groupon which was for three recipes to serve two (I had leftovers since it was just for myself) or a total of six meals. Hello Fresh also offers $30 off the first box. Just click on Hellofresh link.
My Blue Apron box came on time with ice packs and cute packaging (they label their spaces and small items as knick-knacks.) There was an extensive menu, but I narrowed it down to the Ancho Chicken Chili and Dukkah Spiced Shrimp. On the real: Blue Apron made me feel like a fancy restaurant chef. The meals came out SO GOOD. However, they took very long, around 45 minutes each. Not for the faint-hearted. The Ancho Chicken Chili is tomato-based and the sweet potatoes make it really hearty. The servings were huge, I was eating chili for days. My favorite was the shrimp with Mediterranean seasoning and tahini and served with roasted cabbage and potatoes. I might still be salivating just thinking about it. Blue Apron runs specials for first meal deliveries. Click here to get that offer.
We are ready to check out some of the other meal kits that are new to the market. One resource that breaks down the meal kit industry is Food Box HQ. Tell us about your favorite meal kits!