30 Days of MealPass

Random Observation/Comment #552: I miss the simplicity of cafeterias at school. Who am I kidding – my mom packed lunch for me. Can I get on that meal plan again?

pacman food

At the end of April 2016, my colleague introduced me to Mealpass. Naturally, I signed up immediately and decided to make a 30 day challenge out of it and see how much money I saved (and at what hidden cost).

What is it?

The best way to describe it is “Classpass for food” with a few small details:

  • Only a limited number of restaurants in Midtown and Flatiron offer daily selections
  • Each participating restaurant can choose whichever dish they’d like to offer
  • You must choose/reserve your meal between 7pm and 9:30am the day before
  • Mealpass only works on weekdays for exactly 30 days (not month date to month date)

Experimental Setup

If I were to use this mealpass for what it’s worth, I needed to be regiment on booking meals and commit to eating what I booked for all weekdays. Of course, I had to collect data on this. First things first: create a Google Form that I could fill out every time I had a meal. This captured:

mealpass

Results

I used the google sheets output to help me run a few interesting statistics:

  • Initial Cost per month: $120
  • Number of Meals: 17
  • Average Price per Meal: $7.06
  • Normal Price of Meals (Sum): $161.50
  • Average Normal Price per Meal: $9.50
  • Total Savings: $41.50
  • Discount savings per Meal: 25.70%
  • Average size of Food: Medium-Big
  • Order again percentage: 58.82%
  • “Awesome” percentage: 47.06%

Does it work? Would you Recommend it?

Here’s what I liked:

  • It was pretty convenient skipping the line and picking up food
  • There were some pretty awesome deals of lunch that are normally $12+ (e.g. Reichenbach Hall and Japas 38)
  • Selection is actually pretty decent for working on 37th and Broadway (but pretty crap everywhere else)
  • Great conversation starter. I don’t mind talking about mealpass and its benefits.

Here’s what I didn’t:

  • Weekly repetitive meals. I got used to the menu and didn’t want to have anything that was too far of a walk away.
  • Ordering the day before. I lost a lot of my spontaneity, but at the same time I didn’t have to think about lunch because I already made the decision. Some good and some bad there.
  • Eating at my desk. Because it’s all food to-go, I did a lot more eating at my desk than I wanted to. Luckily, I had someone else who was getting mealpass so we went to pick up our food together.
  • Guilt of not using mealpass. This was a big one. it’s that “gym phenomenon” of getting my moneys worth and then winding up missing out anyway. I felt more guilty buying food on top of the cost I’ve paid because technically I’m already paying a flat fee per weekday I don’t use the service.
  • Less money saved from leftovers. As a person that likes to cook a lot, I think I saved the same amount of money just bringing leftovers from dinner. In fact, I may have wasted food for not bringing those leftovers to work.
  • Crappy credit card and money management. In the whole payment transaction process, I was not told how much I would be charged for this service to my credit card and I was not able to cancel without a lengthy email with the title “CANCEL MY SUBSCRIPTION” and a phone call. It was then that I realized that it’s only 30 days instead of month-to-month distinctions, so I needed to pay a separate make-up fee for the meals that went over (I did not include these meals or extra fee in this 30 day analysis)

 

Conclusion

It was worth the 30 day challenge to save a few bucks, but I did not renew (plus I do not intend to in the future). I really love eating with coworkers and choosing my food destiny with spontaneity, but I also think this might be a fun experiment for some people who live in the area.

~See Lemons Back to Regular Lunch

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