The Potential for Meal Subscription Services

Aaron Cecchini-Butler
2 min readOct 31, 2018

The US has been embracing the world of subscription services, and not just the digital ones. My wife and I, for example, currently subscribe to Purple Carrot, Grove, Little Wolf Coffee, Amazon Prime (which includes Whole Foods delivery), and a plethora of digital subscriptions (NY Times, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Now, Apple Music and probably a few others I can’t think of right now).

Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

I think that subscription services have a potential that isn’t being fully utilized.

As my parents get older, it is going to be extremely convenient for me to subscribe to services for them. Knowing that semi-prepped meals and natural cleaning supplies will be there dependably week after week will bring me peace of mind. However, I think that for many people, subscribing 100% of the time isn’t going to be possible. And I know that right now, my parents don’t need that level of help. And this is where I think an opportunity exists.

Blue Apron recently announced an agreement with Wal-Mart to sell their semi-prepped meals through This is similar to the opportunity I want to bring up.

I think it would be advantageous for subscription services to offer non-subscription options.

I would love to send my parents a week of Purple Carrot here and there. I’d love to make sure that there was food ready for them when they get home from a trip. I’d love to send them a box of smoothies after one of them goes through a minor dental surgery.

But I definitely don’t want to sign up for a subscription and have to go cancel after a week. And I also don’t want to just send them my “free boxes” and have them have to sign up and cancel. I just want to be able to purchase one week of food and send it to my parents. Or my grandparents. Or even a friend. I know my parents would’ve loved to send me a box in college!

I think that if restructured a little bit, meal subscription services could really make a killing by selling their boxes, marked up a bit for non-subscribers, because I know I’d love to give (or get!) a gift of semi-prepped meals.

(This is primarily about meal subscription services but I am confident that implementations for other subscriptions exist as well.)

Aaron Cecchini-Butler

Senior Systems Designer at Grubhub working on Cookbook (our design system) — as well as contributing to product design work.