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Delivered to your door: how meal kits can help you eat well right now

From convenience to culinary variety, we all know the perks of meal kits - particularly in times like these. But what about the downsides?

Delivered to your door: how meal kits can help you eat well right now
Photo: Hello Fresh

Meal kits bring you all the ready-to-cook ingredients you need straight to the door. In uncertain times such as the present – with empty supermarket shelves and governments encouraging quarantines – the value of meal kits is clearer than ever.

However, from expats to locals alike, there are plenty of us out there who have reservations about meal kits. Aren’t they expensive? Don’t they produce loads of food waste – and not to mention all of the packaging?

And then there’s the necessary cooking skills. What about those of us who haven’t spent the last decade diligently watching each and every cooking show with a pad and pen, who somehow seem to mess up everything in the kitchen – even a piece of toast?

Together with our partners Hello Fresh, The Local have dished up some tasty facts on meal kits.

Click here for discount offers from Hello Fresh in Switzerland

From giving you the low down on just how it works to smashing some persistent myths this is everything you need to know about the modern meal kit.

What is a meal kit and why do I want them in my life?

First things first, what even are meal kits? Perfect for people who want to avoid shopping expeditions or ordering takeaway, meal kits get you everything you need to prepare a top-class meal in your own kitchen.

In many parts of Europe, shopping has been a difficult affair lately – with empty supermarket shelves and panic buying unfortunately commonplace since the outbreak of the coronavirus. 

One of Hello Fresh's meal kits. Photo: Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh work directly with suppliers, giving you peace of mind in ensuring everything you need will be delivered straight to your door.

Not only do meal kits make shopping easier, they get you the ingredients you need without feeling like you need to send in a search party to do so.

Every expat who has spent a little time living in a foreign country will have stories of searching high and low to find the right ingredient, only to find it’s unavailable – or unrecognisable – in their adopted country.

(Journalists from The Local Germany have told us of their travails trying to find self-raising flour and golden syrup in German supermarkets only to be told “Das gibt es nicht/there is no such thing”.)

Meal kits produce too much waste

One major consumer complaint about meal kits has been the amount of food and packaging waste they produce.

While there was a time when this may have been true, these days are over.

Meal kits are designed to avoid food waste, with just the right amount of each ingredient included.

Find out how Hello Fresh can help you avoid food waste 

Not only is this great for anyone on a diet – i.e. portion control – it means that once you’ve prepared the food you’re not left with anything left over.

The average person in Germany and Austria throws away 82 kilos of food per year – that’s more than the weight of the average person and costs roughly 240 euros.

Less waste, more deliciousness. Photo: Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh ensures that there is also less waste further up the food chain by ordering direct from suppliers, resulting in a 95 percent food waste reduction.

For the environmentally conscious among us, meal kits actually reduce CO2 by 33 percent due to less storage time in supermarkets and less transportation.

As for packaging, through undertaking 41 new waste-reduction initiatives – including using paper insulation and reducing plastic – Hello Fresh Germany achieved 87 percent recyclable packaging in 2019.  

The end-2020 goal is 100 percent recyclable packaging – something which the company is on track to achieve.

In fact, in Germany and Austria, each delivery contains detailed information about the materials in the packaging, its recyclability and how much waste will be produced.

Meal kits are expensive

When looking the end product, it’s perhaps understandable that people think that they’re expensive. But when compared to food in a restaurant, take-out or even supermarket food, meal kits come out on top.

The cost will depend on the amount of people you order for and how many portions you order, while there are also variations from country to country. But take for example the Classic Box.

Always busy? Hello Fresh could help save you time and money 

Serving two people three dishes – i.e. six portions – Germany’s Classic Box works out to be under six euros per meal. With meals like steak with mashed potatoes or the Mediterranean beef burger, you’d be hard pressed to find the same quality ingredients for the same price in a supermarket – and that’s before you take into account the time it takes to shop as well as to research recipes.

And don’t forget that when buying from a supermarket, you’ll never be able to get the same portions… which brings us to…

But I lack grill skills and cooking credentials…

The naked truth about meal kits is that you don’t need to be the Naked Chef to cook up a storm. Meal kits are great for anyone who has trouble following recipes, because there’s literally no chance you can put more or less of anything in.

Just be sure to follow the recipe – always available in English – and you’ll be impressing your friends with your grill skills in no time.  

Did someone say Masterchef? Photo: Hello Fresh

Then there’s the array of recipes, which change from week to week and are developed by specialist chefs.

With a focus on wholesome, nutritious food, the meals are perfect for the health conscious – while losing nothing in the way of taste.

With a menu that changes more often than most restaurants, you’re dining table will be the hottest ticket in town.

Like what you see or want some more information? Click the following link – complete with discounts and free shipping – to find out more about Hello Fresh in Switzerland

 

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OPINION & ANALYSIS

OPINION: Anti-abortion activists in Switzerland are just posturing with latest hollow move

As women’s reproductive rights are on the verge of being drastically eroded in the United States, Switzerland is witnessing the launch of two parallel popular initiatives seeking to restrict access to abortion here, writes Clare O'Dea.

OPINION: Anti-abortion activists in Switzerland are just posturing with latest hollow move

This is pure posturing by anti-abortion activists. It is obvious they can’t win the popular vote – the last time there was a vote on abortion in 2014, 80 per cent voted to leave the current regime unchanged – but Swiss campaigners still want to remind the public of their dissent. 

If they hurt women along the way, perhaps that’s acceptable collateral damage for them. Or perhaps that’s the whole point. The initiatives were launched together in December 2021 and the signature gathering deadline is in June 2023.   

All these campaigners achieve by dragging abortion onto the public agenda is piling additional stress and guilt on women who are going through a personal, in some cases heartbreaking, healthcare dilemma. Perhaps the rationale is that this extra pressure would have a deterrent effect. 

Switzerland was one of the first European countries to legislate for abortion in 1937, allowing abortion when the woman’s health was in danger. The cantons were free to decide how strictly to interpret the law and this led to a patchwork of abortion services across the country. 

Women ended up needing to travel inside the country to access abortion right up to 2002 when voters accepted the new abortion law allowing unrestricted access to abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The law set conditions for abortions after this point. 

Reader question: Is abortion legal in Switzerland?

The first of the two initiatives is the ‘Save viable babies’ campaign to stop late-term abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger. This would apply to pregnancies from 22 weeks gestation where the foetus could potentially survive outside the womb with medical support. 

The second one is the blandly named ‘Sleep on it’ initiative, seeking to impose a one-day waiting period before allowing women and girls to access abortion treatment. Both sets of signatures are being collected together “for synergy reasons”. 

Three Swiss People’s Party (SVP) parliamentarians are behind the campaigns, including two women, Andrea Geissbühler and Yvette Estermann. They got nowhere in parliament with similar proposals which is why they are taking them to the people. No political party supports either initiative. 

Of the total of some 11,000 pregnancy terminations performed in Switzerland each year, approximately 95 per cent are carried out by the 12th week in accordance with the so-called time-limit regulations. 

Only a very small proportion of all terminations take place at an advanced stage of pregnancy. Some 150 terminations per year are performed after the 17th week of pregnancy. The ‘Save viable babies’ campaign is targeting pregnancies terminated from 22 weeks gestation onwards. There are an estimated 40 such cases per year. 

Just to be clear, the campaign wants the whole country to vote on the fate of 40 women per year going through a terrible personal crisis along with their distressed families. 

OPINION: Switzerland’s denial of voting rights to foreigners motivated by fear

The Swiss National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics published an opinion on the practice of late termination of pregnancy in 2018. Here’s what they had to say about these 40 cases annually. 

“The reasons and circumstances underlying advanced pregnancy termination are many and varied. Almost always, the women concerned find themselves in a situation beyond their control, posing a moral dilemma. The need for a decision, and the consequences thereof, can have a lasting impact on the women and their families. Accordingly, the primary ethical principle is that all options need to be jointly considered, with empathetic and careful support being provided for the people concerned.”

Those options include what is called palliative birth for babies with serious conditions who will die at birth or shortly afterwards. 

Guess what, collecting signatures for 18 months for a popular initiative banning late term abortions is the opposite of empathetic support. It exacerbates the suffering involved. But this is a mindset where nothing is more important than the life of the foetus, least of all the parents’ suffering. 

The number of abortions carried out in advanced pregnancy has remained virtually unchanged over the last ten years. Forty out of 11,000 is not very many, but the fact that these situations arise every year represents a sad fact of life. 

EXPLAINED: What happened after Swiss women got the right to vote in 1971?

Meanwhile the ‘Sleep on it’ initiative seeks to introduce a one-day wait between contacting a doctor and receiving the treatment. In three-quarters of cases this means a prescription for abortion pills. 

The one-day wait seems like a spurious and hollow demand. It is normal to think before you go to the doctor for any procedure. I have no doubt that when a woman asks a doctor for an abortion, she has already thought about it – for days if not weeks. She doesn’t need to go through an extra sleepless night to satisfy anyone.   

We know that the best way to reduce the number of abortions is either to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies – through information and services – or to significantly improve the material situation of women, for example income, housing, safety or job security. These factors already contribute to Switzerland’s low abortion rate

But the anti-abortion activists famously concentrate on the least effective tool – banning abortion or making access difficult. 

As an Irish citizen born in the 1970s, I came of age in a country that enshrined the right to life of the unborn in the constitution in 1983, which is what the ‘Save viable babies’ initiative seeks to do. That constitutional ban took a terrible toll on Irish women and girls for 35 years until it was repealed.  

This constitutional ban affected not only abortion services but maternal care in Ireland, with unnecessary suffering and risks imposed on miscarrying women by doctors afraid of breaking the law, as is now being seen in Poland.  

What we know about Swiss abortion is that it is safe, legal and rare. In an imperfect world, this is as good as it gets, no matter what the purists say.

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