Meal kits have taken the world by storm and the particular circumstances caused by the pandemic only increased their popularity. Meal kits provide busy people with a healthy alternative to getting takeout or cooking from scratch. You can find out more in this meal kit guide how these subscription services send boxes of ingredients chopped and prepped with a simple recipe to follow.
The meal kit concept has been a godsend for people who want to eat better in the face of a virus for which nutritional health can be pivotal. But the target audience has for the most part been limited to single or coupled professionals who have the necessary funds to spend $10 per person on a meal.
This demographic does not include many college attendees. College students are certainly looking for ways to eat more healthy food, but are limited by a lack of funds. Most students are either not working or working in minimum wage jobs part time.
It is therefore surprising to hear that HelloFresh, the biggest meal kit company in the world, is now targeting campuses. The College of William and Mary in Virginia is the latest example. HelloFresh is now available through the Sodexo BiteU app used within the college for food delivery.
Is HelloFresh really a good option for most college students or will it only be those from wealthy families who benefit?
What HelloFresh offers on campuses
It is important to point out that HelloFresh is not available through college dining plans. However, HelloFresh rates on campus are subsidized. Instead of paying $10 per portion as regular users of HelloFresh do, students pay between $5 and $5.50 per portion. They can order two to four meals per week and can pause their subscription at any time.
So, while HelloFresh is not cheap for students, it is not particularly pricey either. That said, for students consisting on ramen due to lack of funds, this is still a high price to pay for a single meal. The meals provide value for money, especially considering how easy they make it to eat healthy, but that is value many students simply cannot access.
Do meal kits offer any kind of benefit to students who cannot subscribe to a long-term plan? Or should they just be another alternative students can choose when they have extra money to splash out?
Learning to cook
There are benefits to meal kits even for students who cannot afford them the majority of the time. Getting a week’s subscription every once in a while can help students learn skills that most do not have when they leave college.
Specifically, most students do not know how to cook healthy meals. Many professionals have no idea how to cook either, because they were never provided with a chance to learn. Cooking from scratch is a daunting endeavor if you don’t know where to start.
Meal kits offer an easy and stress-free way of learning to cook. Instead of it being an hours-long process which might end in a waste of food, the tedious parts are taken care of and users learn the basics of putting together a meal and cooking it. It’s not quite as effective as taking a cooking class, but few students have the energy, let alone the time and money to take such a class.
This is supplemented by the fact that meal kits show students what a healthy, balanced meal plan looks like. Rather than making whatever is in the fridge that day, a meal kit subscription provides all the nutrients necessary according to the latest nutritional information.
Appealing to parents
Meal kits may not appeal to students with limited funds, even if they want to eat healthy meals while learning to cook. But companies like HelloFresh can appeal to the parents funding those students. Many college students who don’t have much disposable income are nonetheless from fairly well-to-do families. These families provide a stipend or pay for the student’s meal plan.
Most of these parents would prefer to know that their children are getting nutritional value from their meals, even if they do have to pay a little bit more every month. The trope of hungry students munching cereal and cookie dough every day is widespread, and parents worry that their children aren’t eating well.
Meal kits are not a perfect solution to this, as parents simply cannot force students to eat a certain way if they’re not motivated to do so. However, by paying for these kits, they set their children up well for living healthy while learning some basic life skills.
Another advantage that might draw students to meal kits is the gourmet dishes provided. While some colleges have good dining programs, they don’t have quite the same level of class that meal kits provide.
Students at W & M College, which has brought HelloFresh onto campus, have benefited from teriyaki chicken tenders, lemon basil shrimp skewers, and other such elevated dishes.
If nothing else, it is a nice treat once in a while for students whose eating habits have them eating the same food day after day.
Are meal kits right for students?
Students who are studying by virtue of massive student loans, who are working part time just to get through the month, are unlikely to benefit from meal kits at the moment. They are simply too expensive, and the traditionally unhealthy college staples are what these students can afford.
However, students with a bit more money, or parents of students who want their children to eat healthy, can enjoy major benefits from meal kits. These include delicious dishes, the chance to learn to cook, and improved nutrition.