Going out to eat can get expensive, while cooking at home can be time-consuming and costly, depending on the menu.
Still, convenience often wins out. Millennials spend about $175 a month on restaurants, 14 percent more than older generations. And 87 percent of millennials will splurge on a nice meal even when money is tight, according to Restaurant Marketing Labs.
Now there's a new option growing in popularity: recipe-delivery services. It provides you with the ingredients you need to make a meal in exactly the right proportions from the different dinner options you choose on the websites. For about $190 a month, you get two servings of two or three recipes a week (depending on the service) all delivered to your door.
"If you want fresh, healthy, home-cooked food but need to save some time, recipe-delivery services are a good option," said Benjamin Glaser, an editor at DealNews.
But whether these meal-prep services save money, time and actually taste good is another story. So we tried out three: Plated, Blue Apron and Marley Spoon. Here's what we found.
You'll save time. It's faster than going to the grocery store to shop for all of the ingredients, because the companies ship the exact amount of the items you'll need, like vegetables, meat, pickle chips, multicolored Tinkerbell peppers and even gochujang (a Korean condiment).
That also means you won't waste money on food you don't end up using. You don't shell out for ingredients that you might throw away or never use again because the services send the exact amount, like two tablespoons' worth of lemon zest or a half cup of salad dressing.
You could save money. A basic meal package will cost you $48 from Plated and Marley Spoon and $60 from Blue Apron per week. Plated and Marley Spoon include two different meals for two people. Blue Apron provides three different meals for two people, which comes out to about $10 to $12 a head, pretty reasonable for a nice dinner.
"They can be comparable to grocery store prices, which suggests they are cheaper than eating at restaurants or getting take out," said Glaser.
But do you get what you pay for? Sam Heilbroner, 24, a medical student in New York City, tried Blue Apron. "The food itself was excellent," he said. "The quality was probably the same as a $25 entree at a restaurant."
You'll pick up some new cooking tips. If you don't know how to prepare something, there are tutorial videos on the sites, like how to blanch green beans, core a tomato or the best way to mince garlic.
We made a lemon chicken and green bean dinner from one of the services. Eating a similar dish out would cost about $15, according to foodservicewarehouse.com, but could cost $20 or more at a pricier restaurant.