How to Eat Like a Queen When You Have the Budget of a Bum

First of all, let me preface this post by stating it has nothing to do with Baltimore. Money is something that many people struggle with, and I am no different. If you know me, you know I am notorious for putting off going to the grocery store for as long as possible. I’m talking, I’ll eat a bowl of Golden Grahams for every meal, three days in a row if it means I don’t have to go to the store. I’ll pull up all my Chick-fil-A freebies on my app to avoid going to the store. I’m a product of my parents, and that means pinching pennies to the MAX. I remember my mom wouldn’t even buy something unless she had a coupon for it. And going, “out to eat” meant your choice from the Dollar Menu and a cup of water.

I am definitely not complaining about the way I was raised. I’m proud to be a bargain shopper, and this post is just one of the simple ways I’ve learned to make a dollar (or a few) stretch.

So one of the easiest ways to have a full meal on a tight budget, is to sample home meal kits. I made the word, “sample” bold, because that’s what we are going to look at today, sampling the kits.

There have been a ton of meal delivery services that have been popping up over the years, which makes it easier to avoid committing to one. This might sound crazy but in my quest over the past year to save money while eating real meals, I have tested six different boxes. I always got the cheapest price for the boxes which is usually two meals, for two times a week. Many people have written about the food they received in their boxes and compared different companies based on portion and tastiness. My breakdown will focus mostly on the first week trial price, because to be honest, at this point in my life, I’m mostly focused on bang for my buck. Also, I really didn’t notice that much of a difference in the quality of the food, I think I just enjoyed eating the meals because I knew I got such a bargain, hah. So here we go.

Blue Apron was the first box I ever tried. A friend in D.C. sent me a coupon for a free box. I got this box probably sometime in January of this year and can’t find the recipes for the food I made. I will say, though, that I had my first box stolen, and Blue Apron kindly replaced it with not hassle at all. I’ve had several friends use this service and everyone seems to love it. I do know the recipes can be a bit complicated but the food is delicious, and like I said, your first week is FREE, including shipment.

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Lemon-Caper Catfish with Spiced Lentils and Collard Greens.  Blue Apron

Sunbasket was the second box I tried. They offered $30 off their first week of meals, so I ended up pay $38.94. Expensive for me, yes, but they actually give you two meals for three days a week, rather than two meals for two days a week. I’ve had friends tell me they tried Sunbasket and liked it, as well.

Green Chef was the third service I tried and let me tell you, this one was far and away my favorite. The recipes were insanely easy to make and the portions were HUGE. I had enough left overs to take to lunch the next day for both me and my friend. And the food was deliiiiish. When I ordered my first box I got four meals for free. If I was to go back and re-buy a meal kit, this one would for sure be it. 

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Tandoori Chicken with Almond-Raisin quinoa, and garam masala sweet potatoes. Green Chef

Plated was the next box I tried. Plated is pretty big in the meal kit industry and I can see why. The meals were easy to make and the portions were nice and big. I received $40 off my first week so I ended up paying $15.75 for 4 meals, so not a bad price at all for some yummy food.

Hello Fresh was the next one. Hello Fresh is the one you see all the former Bachelor/Bachelorette constestants raving about on Instagram (yeah I still follow Ali Fedotowsky so what). They charge $59.94 for their classic plan, which is three meals a week for two people. I got $30.00 off my first week so I ended up paying $29.94.

Marley Spoon is the latest box I tried and I’d have to say it’s a close tie with Green Chef. Marley Spoon is Martha Stewart’s box, and I LOVE all things Martha. The food was so flavorful and so easy to make. My friend and I broiled chicken for the first time and it turned out amazing! I feel like you just can’t go wrong with Martha Stewart so two big thumbs up from us! I ended up paying $18.00 for two people, two meals a week. Totally worth it!

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Broiled Lemon Thyme Chicken with Rice and Roasted Zucchini. Marley Spoon

So I realize I didn’t really go over all the content of the boxes, but this post was mainly to focus on how much quality food you can get for a bargain. And all the boxes come with step by step directions for how to make the meals. While I did enjoy some of the food more than others, when it comes to what you’re getting for the price you’re paying, there’s really not a dud in the bunch. Also, I think a lot of people think it’s hard to stop their subscription to the boxes but it really isn’t. All were available to stop online except Sun Basket, and that just required a simple phone call.

One thing I would like to note is that deals for the boxes change from time to time. For example, recently when I was doing research for this article and going through my accounts looking at what I had paid, the current prices were different. For example, I got my Green Chef box for free earlier this year, but currently the site is offering $30.00 off their first box. So sometimes you just need to check back to different sites for different deals.

So if you’re looking to impress someone this holiday season, or you’re just sick of eating cereal for every meal (hehe) take a look at some of the different meal kits out there! Hopefully my breakdown makes it a little easier for you to spot which box might be right for you!

Also, comment below! What tips do you have for saving money? I’d love to hear them!

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Bloggin’ my way through Baltimore!

45 thoughts on “How to Eat Like a Queen When You Have the Budget of a Bum

  1. Nice comparisons.
    To save money I shop at Walmart a lot. They have the Savings Catcher app which is awesome. After you buy groceries at Walmart you just scan the code at the bottom of your receipt with the app and then Walmart will search surrounding stores in your area for cheaper prices. If they find any, they give you back the difference. They send you an email letting you know if they’ve found cheaper prices. You can accumulate your savings and use all at once in their stores if you want to. I love it!! ( :

    Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re welcome!! I’ve bought printer cartridges, books and other things from Walmart with money I’ve gotten back from Savings Catcher. It won’t always find better deals, so sometimes you’ll get an email that says your receipt couldn’t be matched, or Walmart’s prices won. But most times I get back a few dollars each trip. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What I like is you don’t have to buy a whole bunch of a spice you won’t use much. There are so many items at the grocery I will ONLY buy when they’re BOGO.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have heard of Terra’s Kitchen! I haven’t tried that one yet but I’m extra excited because the company is based in Baltimore. Thank you for the recommendation, it will be next on my list.

      Like

  3. Thank you for liking my post on cooking with Coconut flour….a good post on comparisons for food boxes…I don’t have that luxury here…Its grow your own or local markets/street food. I nearly always make my own and that is infinitely cheaper most of the time 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ah well your way sounds better! It’s so expensive to shop for groceries in the city. Trying out the food services was a cheap way to eat while trying new recipes. I’d probably never pay full price for a box, though. And your meals are probably much more fresh and delicious!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Cities are always the same though aren’t they Renae? The only downside for me is that I often have to improvise as some things I cannot get at all…

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  4. Many thanks for peeking at my blog, and also for providing the information on the foodbox services. I have been tempted to do exactly what you did, but my main sloth got in the way. Like Carol, I feel my own cooking is about half the cost of the boxes, even when using the “Introductory Rates”, but fun as an experiment. It’s amazing how much can be learned by observation and/or use of unfamiliar protocols.

    I can see the especial attraction if food acquisition is difficult or time consuming. I am three miles from four main grocery emporia, plus the nice man in the brown suit brings me about a third of what I use in everyday cooking life.

    Food for me is not just something to sustain life. It is an outlet for creativity, and the acquisition of it is a fun exercise in thrift and efficiency. Good, solid, healthful eating habits are probably one of the main reasons I still have my husband. His cancer was slated to kill him long ago, but he is still living a fairly normal life in spite of it. And for that we are grateful. Mealtimes for us are a main social event that we love to enjoy!

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

    Liked by 2 people

  5. When I used to eat meat regularly, I bought larger cuts so I could make a roast or baked chicken and then made soups and stews, sandwiches, etc. My dad always took us to the farmer’s market in a city we lived in. The discounts from the farmers was incredible. Near me, I could go to an auction place. I just haven’t made it yet. They sell produce at really low prices and plants, Ive heard. I enjoyed your article.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad you enjoyed the article. I love reading the responses from people and hearing their stories and tips :). I need to start going to more farmers markets and local vendors, so many people on here have suggested this!!! Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha you do have to be selective when it comes to trying this stuff out. I had one box delivered a few days late bc of a snow storm and I had to throw most of the stuff away 👎🏼. Kind of a gamble but I just liked trying out the boxes for their first week intro rates haha. But definitely a lot to pay (their normal rates) weekly for produce that can be iffy!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a fun idea! I mean I’m always looking for inspiration and love to try new things, and the price is good with the discounts. I can be cheap, but nothing like your parents – well there may have been a few times of near desparation in my life here and there but I always (like your parents) found my way through!

    Liked by 1 person

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