Food is often one of the biggest expenses we face, behind a mortgage/rent. The amount you spend on basic food can have a really significant impact on the amount of disposable income you’re left with at the end of the month.
So, I wanted to share a technique you can apply to save more money to spend on the fun things in life. I call it the ‘Meal Kit Method‘.
I also want to tackle the myth that meal kits are expensive. Yes, they are expensive but only if you always pay full price. I’m going to show you everything you need to know so you never pay full price again!
Note: The examples in this article primarily apply to people living in QLD, VIC, NSW and ACT. If you live elsewhere, you will have access to other meal kit services and discounts to save money with.
First, let’s quickly talk about why meal kits are incredible.
Why you should try meal kits
I’ve written an entire blog post on the 10 reasons you should try meal kits, although here I want to distil those down to just three reasons:
- Get variety for dinner times – Instead of relying on the same rotation of recipes you’ve cooked for the last 10 years, meal kits provide the perfect opportunity to expand your repertoire. You still get the ability to choose meals with ingredients you like, but you’ll discover new cooking methods and techniques you never knew existed. Your family, friends and stomach will thank you for it!
- Avoid takeaway temptation – We’ve all been there… the fridge is empty and you don’t have the energy to drag yourself to the shops. So, you find yourself on Uber Eats getting an unhealthy meal delivered to your sofa. Fortunately, there is a solution! Having your ingredients ready to go, knowing that your meal is only going to take 30-40 minutes to cook is the perfect motivation to avoid those takeaways.
- No risk, no contract – Every meal kit in Australia has the same policy on cancellations. You can cancel your subscription at any point, for any reason. This means you can easily give meal kits a try for a couple of weeks, then cancel without any hassle. Keep in mind the regular cut-off dates for order changes that are around 8 days before your food is due to arrive.
If that’s tempted you into the world of meal kits (or you’re already receiving a regular delivery), I’m now going to show you the best tricks for saving money on your weekly subscriptions.
What is the ‘Meal Kit Method’
The ‘Meal Kit Method’ follows two very simple principles to extract the most value from your meal kits:
- Take advantage of all the sign-up offers available to you.
- Regularly switch services to get discounts for returning customers.
By simply following these basic principles, you can save thousands of dollars every year whilst still enjoying all the benefits of meal kits.
Get your sign-up discounts
There are 5 different meal kit services available across the eastern/central states of QLD, VIC, NSW and ACT. Those are HelloFresh, Marley Spoon, Dinnerly, EveryPlate and Pepper Leaf. Each of these companies are competing for your regular food subscription, so they’re willing to offer very lucrative offers when you sign up with them.
Just by signing up to each of these meal kit services, you’re able to save yourself $250+ from the standard price of their meal kits. Here are the various different offers we have available:
Some of these offers are clearly better than others. In particular, I love the EveryPlate, Pepper Leaf and HelloFresh offers because they only require you to order one single box. This means you can save 40% or $40 on one delivery and then cancel your weekly subscription immediately. Definitely a bargain, even if you don’t want to receive regular meal kits.
With Marley Spoon and Dinnerly, the offers apply across your first 3 boxes so you’d need to pay for multiple weeks of food in order to save the full amount.
Later on in this article, I look at how much you’d end up spending if you took advantage of all of these offers. Next though, comes the most important trick.
Trigger existing customer offers
The most important thing to know is that discounts are exceptionally rare if you are a regular subscriber to any one of these meal kit services. If you’re happily paying for your weekly food delivery, they have no incentive to offer you any discounts.
However, if you have an account but have cancelled your subscription then they’re going to send you offers to entice you back.
If you’ve signed up to the previously mentioned 5 different meal kit services, then you’re always going to have at least 4 of them that you aren’t actively subscribed to.
This means that you simply have to keep an eye out for those re-subscription offers in your email inbox. I’ve been applying this technique for a few years now, and it works like an absolute charm. I’m able to get a discounted box most weeks, often saving me $25 – $30 each week.
Here are the kind of offers you get and how often you might get them:
|Meal Kit Service||Average Offer Frequency||Average Offer Value|
|Marley Spoon||14 Days||$50 off across next 2 boxes|
|HelloFresh||28 Days||25% off next 2 boxes|
|Pepper Leaf||14 Days||$20 off your next box|
As you can see, the two budget boxes don’t offer any regular incentives to restart your subscription. This is a real shame, although just by using the budget services you can save a lot of money compared to the more expensive meal kits.
Applying the ‘Meal Kit Method’ for a year
Assuming you haven’t signed up to any meal kit services previously, I wanted to see how much you could save over the course of a year. I’m going to use the following scenario:
- Box Size: 4-Person Box
- Meals: 5 Per Week.
So, this would be perfect for a family of 4 who want to eat at home 5 days a week, but might treat themselves to a takeaway or restaurant on the weekend.
Here’s what that looks like over 52 weeks:
|2 – 4||Marley Spoon||$475||$35|
|7 – 9||Dinnerly||$270||$45|
|10 – 11||HelloFresh||$239.70||$79.90|
|12 – 13||Marley Spoon||$307.90||$50|
|15 – 16||HelloFresh||$239.70||$79.90|
|17 – 18||Marley Spoon||$307.90||$50|
|20 – 21||HelloFresh||$239.70||$79.90|
|22 – 23||Marley Spoon||$307.90||$50|
|25 – 26||HelloFresh||$239.70||$79.90|
|27 – 28||Marley Spoon||$307.90||$50|
|30 – 31||HelloFresh||$239.70||$79.90|
|32 – 33||Marley Spoon||$307.90||$50|
|35 – 36||HelloFresh||$239.70||$79.90|
|37 – 38||Marley Spoon||$307.90||$50|
|40 – 41||HelloFresh||$239.70||$79.90|
|41 – 42||Marley Spoon||$307.90||$50|
|44 – 45||HelloFresh||$239.70||$79.90|
|46 – 47||Marley Spoon||$307.90||$50|
|49 – 50||HelloFresh||$239.70||$79.90|
|51 – 52||Marley Spoon||$307.90||$50|
Overall, this is how you can achieve savings of….
$1,557.75 in a year
That’s a really significant amount of money off your regular food bill just by using the ‘Meal Kit Method’.
However, I haven’t considered the cost of delivery which needs to be considered in your budget. On average, this is going to cost $9 per week.
How to spend even less money
Now I’ve shown you how to save the most when buying meal kits, I want to help you spend even less money.
The downside of the ‘Meal Kit Method’ is that you end up buying more premium food boxes. Even with a discount, they still come out to be more expensive than the budget boxes. In fact, our study identified that the budget meal kit services are around 35% cheaper.
Here’s how these compare over the course of a year, for our family of 4:
|Method||Total Cost||Cost Per Portion|
|Meal Kit Method||$7,426||$7.14|
If you stick to just the budget meal kits, you can save up to $2,010 every year. You do get a trade-off with slightly less variety and less complex meals, however that’s a big number to be saving every year.
If you want to know how you can make the most out of your meal kits, check out my article covering 7 meal kit hacks.
A word of caution
If you’re going to start applying the ‘Meal Kit Method’ then you need to keep a close eye on your order cut-off dates. These are the dates when your order is locked in with a meal kit service.
Each service has a slightly different cut-off date depending on your state and delivery day, so you need to check with each individual service.
The general rule of thumb is that you need to update/cancel your order at least 8 days before your delivery date. Yes, that means planning for your next box before your current one has even arrived.
The last thing you want is to have 2 meal kits arriving in the same week… unless you’re incredibly hungry!
Do you have any other tips & tricks for saving money on your food boxes? Let me know down in the comments section below.