Whether it is on your Facebook feed or on your favorite podcasts, everyone is talking about meal kits. Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are probably the most popular, but now stores like Kroger are getting in on the game with their new Prep+Pared meal kits. Seeing as Kroger has brick and mortar stores as opposed to a purely online business, it operates a bit differently than the others and I, being a big fan of meal kits, was excited to try it out.
So the first major difference is that you do not have to subscribe to a service with Kroger. You can pick up the kits at the store (or order them on clicklist) whenever you want. For me, this is an overall plus. While it is convenient to have the meals delivered directly to your door, the ability to only pick up one meal this week and two meals the next, as opposed to three meals every week, is nice. Life is busy, and I don't always have as much time to cook as I think I will, so picking up the kits as I need them is preferable. I can't tell you how many times I have only managed to cook up two of the three meals before the last one spoils.
The Prep+Pared kits range from $14 to $20 a kit which serves 2 people, or $7-$10 a serving. This makes them slightly cheaper at times than Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, which both come out to about $10 a serving. Again with Hello Fresh and Blue Apron you must buy three meals a week ($59.99 a week), where you don't have to with Prep+Pared.
Now this is a meal kit, so lets talk about the food and options. In my opinion this is where Hello Fresh and Blue Apron have Kroger beat. Kroger has a rotating menu of about 8 different meals each month. Blue Apron has 6 meals to choose from every week, and Hello Fresh boasts 15 different meal options each week. For those with dietary restrictions Hello Fresh and Blue Apron have likely more options as well. Of the 6 meals Blue Apron offers each month 3 of them are vegetarian, some gluten free and they recently have been offering some diet specific options (whole 30, Mediterranean diet, etc.). Hello Fresh also has vegetarian, low cal and other options as well. Kroger's Prep + Pared kits say they may offer on occasion vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and dietitian's choice kits as part of the monthly rotation. In the 8 meals they are offering for the month of March, only one was meatless. So if you have diet restrictions there may be an option that fits your needs, but in general, there are fewer options..
So let's say you buy a Prep + Pared meal kit, how does it actually work? All the ingredients you will need, besides salt, pepper and oil, are measured, prepped and pre-cut. This might be, in my opinion, the best part about these kits. I can't tell you the number of times I looked at a recipe from another meal kit plan and it said it would take 40 minutes to cook, but what it didn't tell me is that there is about 15-20 minutes of chopping things up before I could even get cooking. The recipes with Prep + Pared are very easy to follow and can be done in about 20 minutes. I tried two different Prep + Pared meal kits: The Crispy Pork Chop and their vegan Black Bean Street Cakes and they were both done in less time than an episode of Jeopardy!.
In terms of taste, the two I tried were both good. They both had a good mix of textures and were proportioned well, though I did feel the need to jazz them up with some extra spices and flavors.
Overall, Kroger's Prep+Pared kits are very convenient and a good addition to the meal kit options. Bon appetite!
Kroger is still rolling out the Prep + Pared meal kits to their stores.To see if a Kroger near you has it, as well as available recipes and other information, visit their website here.