Making Meal Kits Affordable

When the creators of Handpick, a search engine that matches the ingredients you have in your pantry to crave-worthy recipes first started thinking about the meal kit delivery space, they identified what they believed was a glaring flaw in other subscription-based options like Blue Apron and Plated — they were too expensive.

Click here for the Most Overpriced Items at Your Grocery Store slideshow.

Payman Nejati, Handpick's co-founder and CEO is looking to change the way people think of meal kits. Smart Groceries, the non-subscription delivery meal kit service from Handpick, provides, "The convenience of meal kits and the affordability of groceries," according to their website.

Nejati explains that their biggest hurdle with the development of their meal kit delivery service was keeping the prices low. "[There is] always the problem of affordability and rationing," he says, especially as that pertains to lower income households.

Handpick solved this problem with the same approach as their original Handpick app; basically, the grocery stores tell them what they have, and Smart Groceries decides what to cook.

The meal kit bundles range in price from 5.50 to 10.50 dollars per meal, and cater to different dietary restrictions like low-carb, gluten-free, vegetarian, dairy-free, and paleo. Smart Groceries is slated to become the most affordable and user-friendly meal kit service available.

They partnered with Safeway, the second largest supermarket chain in the country, to test out their product. They base their meal kits on what is affordable and available in stores. Then, they package the full-size ingredients and provide recipes for three meals, instead of one meal per box. Additionally, each meal kit includes the ingredients needed to prepare the meals, plus recipe cards with step-by-step instructions.

Ultimately, Handpick hopes to stay true to their roots, as Nejati previously told The Daily Meal, "We view our meal solutions as 'smart' because our approach is the more affordable, sustainable way to cook." He continues to say, "the secret sauce behind Handpick's Smart Groceries is that they're designed to use up any perishable food by week's end, leaving zero food waste. Our long-term mission with Smart Groceries is to provide the most affordable groceries that save consumers time and money while minimizing food waste."

Handpick hopes to expand across the country adding more options for consumers along the way, including more choices around organics, brands, and prices.

Angela Carlos is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Find her on Twitter and tweet @angelaccarlos.