Mens Sana in Corpore Sano
With Meal Kits
A healthy mind in a healthy body, or mens sana in corpore sano in Latin, shines a light on not only the importance of health in life, but how the mind and body are connected. One way to achieve this, in the experience of many during the coronavirus pandemic, has been with meal kits.
Meal kits are essentially the 21st century answer to the issues of waste, processed food, shopping, recipe ideas and time scarcity. The basic gist is that they’re an online grocery shop with recipes (with nutritional info), filtered by diets, that deliver the ingredients in terms of the precise measurements and no more. There are plenty to choose from too as competition is hotting up, with many online resources pointing out the pros/cons of each like this visual HelloFresh review.
The importance of organic
Organic has been a bit of an overused term that’s almost become ideological at this point, but there is a certain fact that remains true, and is one of the few dietary advice everyone agrees on: processed food is cancerous, and remains to be one of the biggest factors of heart disease (one of the biggest killers in Canada and the US).
Meal kits solve this by generally not having any processed food for sale. This is a given, since you’re buying ingredients, but generally the ingredients are fresh with fewer refined sugars. Some of the most processed foods are ready-made meals for the microwave, which again, meal kits force you to cook your own meals.
One of the most appealing aspects of meal kits is actually the nutritional information that’s available for the meal as a whole. Otherwise, it’s very difficult to count macros. Not to mention that you’re seeing everything that goes into your meal on the ingredients list upon purchase.
Saved from time and stress
One of the most undiscussed issues surrounding eating poorly is time and stress. Not cooking, that’s reasonably enjoyable for many, but shopping. Walking around a busy supermarket is a huge cause of impulse buys, poor decisions, and uninformed decisions. Even just trying to ad-hoc buy ingredients that you can use to put a single meal together feels like it requires Gordon Ramsey-level knowledge.
So, the online recipes and delivery takes away the paradox of choice issue, as well as the time it takes to physically acquire them. As for cooking, this becomes easier to gauge given that the recipes and step-by-step guide is available when deciding on recipes. So, right away, you can opt out of complex meals that take time. This isn’t advisable though, as learning to cook is not only super useful, but extremely meditative. Cooking a meal you’re happy with is cathartic and a great way to wind down from work.
Learning to cook
To follow on from that last point, learning to cook is great for your mental health and life skills. This is made easy by meal kit companies because you don’t have to measure out ingredients or even pick them out. There’s not a lot you can mess up - it’s a little bit like learning to ride a bike with stabilisers.
It’s not totally useless then when you decide to take them off in the future. After a while, you’re getting a feel for what flavours and spices go together, how long things take in the oven, and what recipes are your favourite. It’s almost like training, and as you get more confident, you may start adding your own touches to the recipes. The foundation is hard to mess up, so you become more confident in your ability.
The environment is something everyone would like to preserve, regardless of your political or climate beliefs. Of course, actually acting and changing your lifestyle to help preserve the environment is a sacrifice that not every can or will make. Meal kits are one of the very few services that actually make eco-friendly decisions convenient, as opposed to more effort.
First and foremost, food delivery is a contactless way of shopping that is conducive to preventing the spread of COVID-19. This is partly why there has been a huge wave of signups this year, especially among high-risk groups. It’s also filled the gap of going to restaurants for high quality food, as this is perhaps the closest way to replicating such good food.
As for the environment itself, there are fewer factory-farming processes with meal kits, but most importantly, there is a significant reduction in food waste. Seeing your bin empty because you’re literally throwing away zero food, given that the ingredients are portioned for an exact amount, is a very proud feeling that many of us scarcely think about. In the EU, there’s currently 88 million tonnes of annual food waste, along with the EUR 143 billion in associated costs along with it. Food wastage is estimated to generate 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Finally, meal kits arrive in a single cardboard box, as opposed to carrier bags. Packaging is also conscious of plastic usage, and uses far less than grocery stores. In fact, a study recently found that meal kits have a smaller carbon footprint.
Meal kits are not essential. We can all reduce our carbon footprint and eat fresh, home-cooked food without them. Only, we won’t. Some may, some may not. The truly great attribute that meal kit companies have is that they’re convenient, and of course, convenience is almost always the most important thing for us.
It’s amazing then that the convenient option, for once, is the healthy and environmentally-conscious option. You can even filter recipes by dietary needs, such as paleo or lactose-free, which as we all know is an absolute chore to do when going to the supermarket. This keeps us aligned with our ethical and healthy goals in life, all whilst removing the friction that stands in the way of achieving them.