Fast-casual chain Just Salad has launched a meal kit brand it is calling the “next generation of meal kits.” Dubbed Housemade, the line is available now exclusively via Grubhub, according to a blog post from Just Salad.
The standout feature of the new meal kit line (which launched very, very quietly this month), is its purportedly waste-free packaging. Anyone who has ever ordered a traditional meal kit knows that you’re typically left with a mound of plastic, cardboard, and dry ice after the food is prepped.
In contrast, Just Salad says the Housemade line uses “zero plastic packaging.” Instead, meals arrive in curbside recyclable or compostable packaging, and labels on the packages are water soluble. Recipe cards contain disposal instructions for the packaging.
In terms of what actually arrives in a kit, it’s a bit of a cross between a prepared meal delivery and a more traditional kit. For example, the Housemade Mediterranean Chicken Salad comes with uncooked chicken, rice, vegetables, and other ingredients. Items are pre-portioned out, so that the customer just has to put them into single pan and cook for 15 minutes. Since Just Salad won’t be using dry ice or other cold storage materials for its packages, meals are meant to be delivered within an hour. There is no subscription to purchase the Housemade kits, which start at $10.49 for a single serving. Users can simply head over to Just Salad’s page on the Grubhub app or website.
Meal kits as a category has long been championed as a potential avenue for fighting food waste because ingredients are pre-portioned and users get exactly what they need for each meal. The tradeoff for that convenience up to now has been excess amounts of packaging waste, which rather nullifies any other sustainable aspects of the meal kit.
Just Salad said in its blog post that its Housemade kits have “91 percent less packaging by weight than the average meal kit.” Again, the reason that is possible is because kits are have few ingredients, are available in single-serving sizes, and are meant to be delivered within an hour. Traditional meal kits, on the other hand, serve entire families, usually require a subscription, and are shipped across the country. All of those factors require more protective packaging (insulating, shipping, etc.) for any given order. Just Salad’s tactic of using its own locations to fulfill orders and delivering those orders within an hour automatically removes some of the packaging problem from the process.
In its blog post, Just Salad said meal kits “have a crucial redeeming feature,” which is fighting food waste, but that the industry must “rethink the meal kit concept” in order to effectively cut down on packaging waste.