Meal delivery without the trash
June 15, 2021 10:20 AM   Subscribe

I was wondering if there's such a thing as meal-kit or meal-tray delivery service that I could cope with as someone who doesn't have unlimited-volume trash pickup?

I have one big garbage can that gets picked up every week and there's no room in there for the big giant boxes and the big bags of water. When I have tried meal delivery services in the past I wind up drowning in all the garbage that comes with it.

I don't know quite what I'm asking for since the food is food and needs to be kept cold in transit, but sometimes you all tell me things I was not aware of!
posted by bleep to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sunbasket uses recyclable/compostable packaging.
posted by pinochiette at 10:28 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]

To follow up on what pinochiette said: I've seen various combinations of the materials they use, but the *total amount of material* is pretty much all pretty high (large box, lots of cardboard and/or bags of liquid.) Sunbasket generates less trasn and more recyclable stuff than the other boxes we've tried, but it's still the same amount of Stuff and if your problem is Disposal of Stuff (regardless of how you dispose of it), they're all going to be equally problematic, at least as far as I've encountered.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:33 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]

Your best bet would be to find a local service, whether that's a caterer/restaurant that lets you pick up (or will deliver using a cooler bag and hand off to you) or a "personal chef" (yelp is okay for this, craigslist is often better), which sounds swanky but it's really just people making and portioning reheatable meals for you.

A friend did surprise me recently by saying they got rid of all their padding (the shredded denim insulation most companies use now) on their local Buy Nothing group, but on reflection I suppose you could repurpose that stuff for all kinds of things, so there's probably someone who would take at least that part off your hands. Maybe someone would want the ice packs as well.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:35 AM on June 15 [5 favorites]

Are you throwing away the ice packs still full? Most of them are drain friendly -- cut them open, pour the goo down the drain, and you're left with an empty plastic bag. Still trash, but MUCH less weight and volume.

I see boxes and ice packs on my local Buy Nothing all the time, though I'm not sure how popular they are. We usually end up keeping a couple of ice packs in the freezer and sometimes use the boxes to pack stuff away.

Imperfect Produce has started taking back their shipping material (reference). We can leave the insulated liners and full gel packs the next week for the driver to pick up, but in some areas you ship them with prepaid labels. I'm not ashamed to say we've snuck some Blue Apron liners out of the house this way, but there may be other meal kits offering a similar service.
posted by natabat at 11:06 AM on June 15 [5 favorites]

I am one of those weirdos who takes her neighbors' cardboard boxes and padding! I've been selling fragile stuff on eBay and Etsy and they're great for packing up a casserole dish or a set of juice glasses. You would probably need to save up a few weeks worth of boxes and stuff before someone like me would want to come pick it up from you. And people are generally very eager for me to come take their boxes so I'm guessing there are more people trying to give boxes than people who are interested in receiving them.

Also though how big is your trash can? If I cut down the box and drain the ice packs I can get a full Misfits Market box worth of waste into about a five-gallon bag.
posted by mskyle at 11:14 AM on June 15

P.S. I haven't tried this, but there's another option in the Bay Area called Planted Table- they use reusable packaging and take it back and sanitize it.
posted by pinochiette at 11:16 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]

Came in here to say Imperfect, too -- though it's groceries, not meal prep (though they offer many meal-like items). They used to take the boxes back as well, so I'm hoping they re-start that.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:45 AM on June 15

Depending on what it is, your local school or children's librarian may really want it for crafts, especially cups and containers, and bubble wrap.

People who are moving might want the boxes. I would put them out on Craigslist or your local Freegal/Buy Nothing group and see what happens.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:50 PM on June 15

Where are you located? Vancouver, BC, Canada has Fresh Prep, which has zero-waste options . It's not actually zero waste but it's very minimal since they pick up the reusable cooler bag and 90% of the ingredient packaging when delivering your next kit. The last one I used generated maybe 3 tiny plastic bags as trash. Perhaps there's something similar where you live?
posted by daelin at 12:50 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]

If I'm interpreting the link in your profile correctly, you're in the Bay Area, right?

* nthing Imperfect Produce since they started taking back packaging. They don't even use produce bags for fruits and veggies, which is nice.
* Thistle is a meal / salad delivery that comes in reusable totes with ice packs, and they are also taking back their delivery packaging. The containers are recyclable plastic containers but they can stack nicely.
posted by blueberrypuffin at 2:03 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also in the Bay Area, I’ve used Methodology (but it’s more like pre-cooked meals in jars) and they take back the jars and packaging. It was a little pricey for me, but was nice when I was feeling a bit too busy to cook regularly.
posted by sincerely yours at 4:29 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Methodology is really working for me so far thank you so much for the rec
posted by bleep at 11:48 AM on June 30

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