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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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HEALTH

How is Swiss healthcare system different from the rest of Europe?

Switzerland’s health infrastructure is consistently rated among the best in the world, but how does it compare with other countries?

How is Swiss healthcare system different from the rest of Europe?

Whether in terms of politics, social system or economy, the Swiss often chart their own course, which fundamentally diverges from that of its European neighbours.

Healthcare is no exception.

The differences lie primarily in who finances the scheme — public versus private — and how the overall system functions.

Like much of the European Union, Switzerland has a universal health system, which means everyone in the country is covered by insurance and has access to medical care.

In most countries, the government typically has control, to a lesser or greater extent, over funding, health insurance, and health providers.

In France, for instance, most healthcare costs are covered by the state healthcare system, known as assurance maladie, and this is funded by taxes – healthcare costs account for about 13 percent of the average person’s gross salary.

In Germany, health costs are shared by employers and workers, with employees paying 7.5 percent of their salaries into a public health insurance fund, and companies matching that amount.

Italy’s national, system, called the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale, or simply SSN, which is financed mainly though federal and regional taxes, automatically covers all residents. Medical care is largely free of charge at the point of service.

Public healthcare also exists in Austria, with certain portions of salaries being automatically deducted to fund the scheme. However, healthcare is free of charge for low-income people or those who who are disabled, studying, or retired.

Although no longer part of the EU, the UK health system is also based on state healthcare via the NHS. It is funded by taxes which account for about 4.5 percent of the average citizens’ gross income.

What about Switzerland?

The system here is fundamentally different in that it is not tax-based or financed by employers, but rather by individuals themselves.

Everyone must have a basic health insurance coverage and purchase it from one of dozens of private carriers.

Basic insurance — KVG in German and LaMal in French and Italian — is compulsory in Switzerland. It doesn’t come cheap — premiums are based on the canton of residence and age, costing 300 to 400 francs a month on average — but it is quite comprehensive; it includes coverage for illness, medications, tests, maternity, physical therapy, preventive care, and many other treatments.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about health insurance in Switzerland

There are no employer-sponsored or state-run insurance programmes, and the government’s only role is to ensure that all insurance companies offer the same basic coverage to everyone and that they have the same pricing.

While companies can’t compete on prices or benefits offered by the basic compulsory insurance — which are defined by the Health Ministry — they can, and do, compete on supplemental polices which offer perks not included in the basic coverage.

READ MORE: What isn’t covered by Switzerland’s compulsory health insurance?

All policies have deductibles (also called co-pays) that can range from 300 to 2,500 francs a year.

After the deductible is reached, 90 percent of all medical costs will be covered by insurance, with 10 percent being paid by the patient; however, this co-pay is capped at 700 francs a year for adults and 350 francs for children under 18.

The government does subsidise healthcare for the low-income individuals and households – defined as those for whom insurance premiums exceed 10 percent of their income.

What percentage of a person’s income goes to health insurance premiums?

This depends on wages and premiums, for instance, whether a person chose the cheapest option with a high deductible or the expensive one with a 300-franc deductible.

Generally speaking, however, based on the average monthly income of just over 7,000 francs, about 6.5 percent is spent on premiums.

What happens if you don’t take out an health insurance policy?

Anyone who arrives in  Switzerland must get insured within three months. If you don’t, the government will choose one for you and send you the bill. If this happens you may end up with more expensive premiums than you might have gotten if you shopped around yourself.

If you are still delinquent on your payments, your healthcare will be restricted to emergencies only; any other non-urgent medical treatment will be denied, unless you pay for it out of pocket.

The pros and cons of the Swiss system

Let’s look at the ‘cons’ first. Basically, there is one: the cost.

Not only are insurance premiums high and steadily increasing, but, at 7,179 francs per capita, Switzerland has the third most expensive healthcare scheme in the world — behind only the United States ($12,318) and Germany ($7,383).

Unlike taxpayer-funded models, there is no price grading according to income, so people on a low income pay a high proportion of their income for healthcare than higher earners. 

However, the system is generally efficient, has an extensive network of doctors, as well as well-equipped hospitals and clinics.

Patients are free to choose their own doctor and usually have unlimited access to specialists.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to see a specialist doctor in Switzerland without a referral

Waiting lists for medical treatments are relatively short.

According to a survey by the Organisation  for Economic Cooperation and Development  (OECD) on how long patients in various countries typically wait for an appointment with a specialist, the share of people in Switzerland waiting a month or more is 23 percent, compared to 36 percent in France, 52 percent in Sweden, and 61 percent in Norway.

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