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Is this the recipe for a cruisy Christmas meal?

Esther Taunton

For some people, planning and preparing a Christmas feast is all part of the fun. For others, it’s just more pressure at an already stressful time. Add the soaring price of food to the (hopefully) soaring temperatures of a southern hemisphere Christmas, and you’ve got a recipe for frazzled home cooks.

Enter meal kit companies, which pitch their Christmas products as time and money-savers. But does the convenience really come at a reasonable price?

Researchers at Otago University analysed food prices in the main centres and found that, depending on location, a single person spends $107 to $134 a week on food, while couples spend about $230.

When compared to the cost of Christmas meal kits and plans, prices range from 20% to 65% of a single person’s weekly food spend.

Here’s how four of the most popular meal-kit offerings (and one more DIY option) stack up:

At $314 for four people ($78.50 per person), Woop’s Christmas box with lamb and ham was the most expensive of the kits we looked at.

However, while the other kits assumed customers had a boatload of staples on hand, a delivery from Woop comes with everything you need except oil, salt and pepper. There’s a lot to be said for not having to race out and find an essential ingredient at the last minute.

A My Food Bag Classic Christmas ham and lamb meal kit was $269, while the festive offering from Hello Fresh was $229.

Both kits were said to feed four to six people but, for consistency’s sake, we split the price four ways. The My Food Bag box came in at $67.25 per person and the Hello Fresh kit at $57.25 a head.

My Food Bag’s lower-cost offering, Bargain Box, pitched its kit as “New Zealand’s most affordable Christmas box”.

At $299 for eight to 10 people, it was the cheapest of the pre-packed meal kits we looked at. Assuming you catered for eight, the meal would come in at $37.37 per person.

But for those prepared to brave the supermarket closer to Christmas, there is an even cheaper way to put on a festive spread, without the hassle of menu planning.

MenuAid promises to deliver (figuratively, at least) a three-course meal plan for six people for $150, or $25 a head, with ingredients from the supermarket.

Like the meal kits, MenuAid assumes users already have a range of staples. If you don’t, the cost goes up, but the same can be said for all the kits mentioned above – bar Woop, of course.

Its eight-dish menu is also more basic than the pricier alternatives – you’ll be carving a chicken instead of a turkey and tucking into coleslaw rather than a gourmet salad with croutons, dressing and cheese.

But at less than half the cost per person, a trip to a crowded preChristmas supermarket doesn’t seem like such a high price to pay.

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