Hello, 2018. Bye bye, meal kits.
As Southern Living’s food editor, I am all for anything that helps get people in the kitchen and puts food on tables. And if some of that food starts with a recipe or a cooking tip from Southern Living, all the better—for you, and for me. That said, I know that recipes come from all sorts of places—friends and family, cookbooks, food blogs, the back of the chocolate chip bag, just to name a few. A recipe collection should be like a great wardrobe, with comfy, everyday clothes and sophisticated, special occasion pieces gathered throughout a person’s life.
Unless you don’t like to cook. And that’s not a moral failing. If you’d rather do anything other than stand at a stovetop, maybe your recipe collection is more like a uniform—a few simple shirts, pants, and basics to get you through the week.
And then there are meal kits. These pre-measured, ready-to-cook dinner delivery services have been an ongoing trend over the past few years, and I think 2018 will be the year they start to disappear. And that’s not because I help create recipes for a living.
Sure, these kits save time spent in the grocery store, and take the work out of meal planning, but you pay a premium for that convenience. And in the end, you’re still cooking—even if someone else chooses the recipes and preps all of the ingredients for you. If you don’t like to cook, meal kits probably won’t change that. If you’re a novice cook, a meal kit might introduce you to a few new cooking techniques or ingredients, but eventually you’ll realize that you can buy those ingredients (for less money) and make the dish yourself (without a recipe). And if you want to scale arecipe up or down—say you’re feeding houseguests, or want extra leftovers for the week—a meal kit doesn’t allow that flexibility.
Whether or not you enjoy cooking, you’re better off building your own repertoire of easy-to-make dishes than relying on meal kits. You’ll save money, you can tailor what you’re eating to your own tastes, and you’ll become a more confident cook when you realize that over time you can assemble these meals by heart. That’s how any old recipe becomes “your” recipe.
And if you still need a little hand holding to feel comfortable in the kitchen, give one of our recipes a try. We’re not called “the South’s Most Trusted Kitchen” for nothing.