Should you subscribe to do-it-yourself meal deliveries?

Whether you are an amateur or top of your class at culinary academy, cooking at home can present some challenges. Planning your menu, buying and storing the proper ingredients, or just trying to find new recipes can be tough. In the past couple of years, a number of companies have come forward to make the process a little easier. You can now go online and find a service that will send you everything you need to cook a meal at home. Here are some things to consider when choosing a recipe delivery service.

The cost
Of the most popular services (Blue Apron, Plated, HelloFresh, PeachDish), the average cost per meal is between $10-$15. Most recipes provided by these sites feature portions for two people (although some provide family-sized servings). For your money you receive the recipe, the ingredients (all spices, sauces and creams are pre-portioned and packaged), a step-by-step cooking guide and free shipping. If you are cooking at home to be thrifty, this might not be the service for you. If you are looking to try new recipes without being stuck with a lot of exotic ingredients that you won't use too often, this could be a fun way to expand your kitchen skills.

The options
These do-it-yourself culinary courses allow you to diversify your at-home menu. You don't have to stick with the same old casserole when everything you need to make coconut curry salmon steak is delivered to you. Different companies provide customers with different food choices. Blue Apron doesn't have a vegetarian option but HelloFresh does. PeachDish is an Atlanta-based company so their recipes cater more toward Southern cuisine. All of these businesses provide you an overview and examples that you can peruse before you sign up for anything. Take a moment to find which one is right for you.

Choice vs. chance
While we do recommend that you make sure the company of your choice can provide for your dietary needs, this is a chance for you to get a little adventurous and really try your hand at being a culinary student. Plated allows you to choose individual meals that you would like to cook (although there is a discount for monthly subscribers). Other companies will just send you certain meals at their discretion. This can be pleasantly surprising. You might try some main dish or combination that you've never dreamed of before. It's a chance to break out of your cooking shell.

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