Feeding My Family Outside the Box

 In the January/February 2016 issue of Rachel Ray Everyday magazine, there was an article about meal kit subscription services and whether they are worth your time and money. Of the four subscription services profiled in the article, all four ran about $10 per meal per person. The food items all came individually packaged in plastic bags or boxes, and included uncut ingredients.

These meal services are clearly marketed to households of two people but as a mom to 7, I have several thoughts to share about this topic that might give others with similar numbers of mouths to feed, or far fewer, something to chew on.

Think like a big family and multiply the cost

Whether it’s food, clothing, entertainment, or other costs, think like a big family and multiply the costs.  One of the first thoughts I had while reading the article was: Can you imagine how much that would cost for our family?

$10 x 9=$90 one dinner

$90 x 7 days=$630 per week

$630 x 4=let me get a pencil–$2420 per month

That’s just for dinner, people! What about breakfast, lunch and snacks?

The author of the article says she’s too busy to plan and shop for meals.  Let me tell you about busy.  If you present a food item to a person, could they not name off several meals that could be made with it?

Consider the “sustainability” of the food packaging

My second thought while reading the article and which I consider when I shop for our groceries is all of the wasted packaging that has to be thrown away.  All of the dinners shown in the photos had 10 disposable bags, bottles or containers each except for one that had 8.  Again, multiply the number of items to be thrown away for our family for these meals:50 bags per dinner x 7=350 baggies per week, x4=1400 baggies per month!

Would those baggies need to go in the “wet trash” or “dry trash”?  Since we live out in the country and don’t have a garbage or recycling service to pick up what we throw away, we have developed a system.  We compost anything we can including paper that can be shredded.  What’s wet and can’t be composted goes into “wet trash”, dry stuff that’s burnable goes into “dry trash”, and anything that can be recycled gets set aside to be dropped off in town once a week at a recycling station.  Suffice it to say, our “wet trash” is minimal even by two-person standards.

Simplicity and the number of ingredients

I’m thinking about what’s on our menu for this week.  Marinated pork chops with baked potatoes. Waffles, eggs and bacon. Chicken pot pie.  I don’t think any of these meals have 10 different ingredients in them.  In fact, most of our meals are simple–and elegant I might add.  And the more I include fresh vegetables, I appreciate how elegant simple foods can be.

Locally sourced foods

Two of the meals in the article included salmon and shrimp. I live in the heartland of our great nation.  It takes a lot of miles on a truck to transport shrimp and salmon to my our dinner table.  If I’m going to feed my family protein in the form of meat, I look to animals sourced closer to home: beef, chicken and pork.  They live closer to me than the grocery store.  I realize that salmon, especially, contains vital omega-3 fatty acids, but it’s cheaper and smarter for me to buy a bulk bag of flax seeds and grind them into smoothies for my kids.

I do have to admit, one of my thoughts while reading the article was: Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a box show up at my door with all the ingredients thawed and ready to be made into meals? No comparison shopping. No list-making. No grocery bag-hauling into the house.  It’s the stuff [a mom’s] dreams are made of.

 

One comment

  1. Kandace says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful article. And I’m really glad that you mentioned all the packaging that comes with those prepared meals.

    While I try to do as much cooking and prep work in my own kitchen, I’m amazed at how much packaging I can bring home from the market if I am not mindful to bring my own bags, package only wet produce, and purchase in bulk where I can.

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