It can be argued that the majority of technological advances in recent years, have been dictated by convenience. The focus has been how to make processes simpler, more efficient, and user friendly. The order-and-delivery business specifically, has not only changed the way that we consume food, but the way that we spend our time. What was once a cumbersome process of creating a grocery list, purchasing said groceries, followed by meal preparation – food can now be ordered, delivered and consumed with the click of a button, often in less than 30 minutes.
There are 3 major ways in which we purchase food online. The first is the ready to eat meal delivery model. In recent years, many companies have emerged offering this service. Organizations like Just Eat and Zomato are known as aggregators, offering access to multiple restaurants through a single portal. Consumers no longer need to spend time browsing the web, or sifting through countless brochures to find a suitable meal option. Users now have access to multiple restaurants, on a single platform where they can filter by price, location, and even cuisine. Other companies like UberEATS and Deliveroo are providing restaurants that don’t offer a delivery option, the opportunity to tap into a whole new market of consumers. These companies take care of the logistics of delivery, meaning more possibilities for you!
Another industry that’s been increasing in popularity in recent years is the ready-made meal delivery business model. Many companies have emerged that offer readily available grab and go meals, delivered straight to your door. Meals for an entire week (including breakfast, lunch and dinner) are at your fingertips and can be taken care of by the click of a button. Once delivered, all the consumer needs to do is grab their desired meal from the fridge, and enjoy. Whereas our first option opens the door to several unhealthy options (who hasn’t had pizza delivered to their house before?), ready-made meal delivery companies typically offer healthy and balanced options. Many of these companies offer customizable meals plans that can be tailored to support individual goals (ex: build muscle or lose fat), or accommodate dietary restrictions. Whether they are delivered fresh or frozen, these companies offer the best of both worlds – healthy food, that tastes fresh, when you want it.
The third food delivery option, and perhaps the most interactive of the three, is the option to have fresh ingredients with recipes delivered straight to your door. Startups like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron have hired teams of chefs that develop healthy recipes. Their boxes contain these recipes cards (including photos so that you know what the meal should look like) as well as all of the ingredients required to make the meal. They do the planning, and shopping and prep work – the even cut the vegetables for you! All that’s left for the consumer to do is cook and eat.
It would appear that we are spoiled for choice when it comes to the plethora of options available in the order-and-delivery business. How are these alternatives to how we’ve traditionally purchased and prepared food changing our lifestyle? From our perspective, there are both positive and negative implications.
The good news is that the traditional fast food model no longer exclusively includes pizza, burgers and sodium-rich Chinese food. There is more awareness and information regarding what healthy options look like, as well as accessibility to these balanced options. Many restaurants have emerged that provide fast, yet healthy and nutritious alternatives. Individuals that are on the go or work long hours are able to fuel their bodies with a wholesome meal. It could be argued that this industry is putting more time back into our day by eliminating time spent on cumbersome tasks such as grocery shopping or commuting to a restaurant. In 2017, 17% of millennials reported to prefer food delivery to pick up. As deliveries go up, restaurant square footage and dry wall is coming down.
All of these options, albeit more convenient, are changing the way to we eat and experience food, as well as our lifestyle – and not always for the better. Going out for dinner with a friend used to be seen as an indulgence, and now can feel like an inconvenience. Although it was earlier argued that all of these time-saving options are allowing us to have an improved quality of life, the truth of the matter is that the extra time that we’re ‘getting back’ in our day so to speak is often spent working longer hours, or on the couch in front of the TV. When we are stressed and stretched for time, it’s also more likely that we choose a comfort food, as opposed to the fresh, and healthy alternative. A healthy diet and having positive social interactions are essential for overall health, yet with some technological advances, it can seem as though we’re removing any reason at all to leave the house. That coupled with the inflated cost of some of these alternatives, are also leaving a massive dent on our wallets.
If used correctly, the new normal of the order-and-delivery food industry can certainly add convenience, and promote an improved quality of life. The onus lies on the individual to make the right choice – ordering in, or otherwise!
The Author: Daina Kenins
Daina is a lover of all things health & wellness related; a health food connoisseur, an avid marathon runner, a certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher and a spin studio manager. She is ambassador for healthy eating and loves to create and share recipes on her instagram page @thepaleobean.