Meal kits come to Walmart stores and online grocery service

Sarah Perez

On the heels of Amazon's launch of Whole Foods grocery delivery through Amazon Prime Now, Walmart today is rolling out a new option for its grocery pickup and delivery service meant to appeal to busy families: meal kits. The retailer's affordable alternative to meal kit delivery subscriptions like Blue Apron, is now available at over 250 stores, and is being made available via Walmart’s Online Grocery Pickup service.

The meal kits will become available to over 2,000 Walmart locations by year-end, the company says.

The kits are developed by Walmart's Culinary and Innovation Center, and contain pre-portioned ingredients to accompany the retailer's rotisserie chicken, or help customers prepare a quick meal without having to chop vegetables, combine ingredients, and add seasonings.

Similar to the meal kits found at most grocers today, Walmart's meal kits are prepared fresh daily in the store, and are sold in the deli. The meals are designed to serve two people and range from $8 to $15.

The kits include rotisserie chicken meals (Thai Curry Chicken and Chicken Fried Rice); pre-portioned kit meals (Steak Dijon, Basil Garlic Chicken, Sweet Chili Chicken Stir Fry, and Pork Florentine); as well as One Step Meals (Chicken Alfredo, Cheesy Ravioli Bake, Meatloaf, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Chicken Parmesan, Pulled Beef, Chicken Marsala, Curry Chicken, Pot Roast, and Chicken Enchiladas).

“Customers are busier than ever and we know getting a delicious dinner on the table can be a chore. We’re here to help,” said Tyler Lehr, senior vice president and general merchandise manager, Deli Services, Walmart U.S, in a statement. “These delicious meals give the best or worst of cooks a fresh, easy option for dinner tonight, or later this week.”

With online ordering, customers who place a grocery order in the morning or even by lunchtime, will have the option of picking up their kit from Walmart's Curbside Grocery service before dinnertime. In some markets, online grocery customers can opt for delivery as well. However, Walmart doesn't operate its own grocery delivery service, as Amazon does with Prime Now or Target now does with Shipt - it contracts with third parties like Uber, and charges shoppers an additional fee at checkout. (Delivery is currently available in 6 markets, which equals nearly 40 stores.)

While meal kit delivery services like Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Plated, Home Chef, and others have grown in popularity, they're generally designed more for those who have a little more time to prep meals in kitchen. That is, while you'll only be sent the ingredients you need, there's often still chopping and stirring and seasoning involved across several steps.

It's also a bit expensive to subscribe to these deliveries, and food can go to waste if you don't have time to prepare the week's meals for some reason (like working late at the office, e.g.). Plus, shipping meal kits requires refrigerated packaging, which then needs to be recycled or disposed, which also cuts into people's limited time.

Walmart's own meal kits aren't the only meal kit/easy food option from the retailer. The company last year launched a meal kits and speciality foods site which features kits from partners like Home Chef and Takeout Kit, along with other snack boxes and food crates from third parties.

Meanwhile, Amazon has also been experimenting with its own meal kits via AmazonFresh, as well as those from partners available on Amazon.com.