Ordering a decent, non-fast-food lunch for under $10 seems like a near impossible feat, but MealPass is seeking to change that. The subscription-based lunch service works like this. For $119/month ($6 per meal), each day Monday-Friday, choose a lunch and pickup time from hundreds of participating restaurants in either Boston, Miami, New York City, or San Francisco. Could such a cool idea deliver a satisfying experience in real life? My co-worker and I tried MealPass for a week and discovered the following:
You Have to Plan Ahead
This isn't the type of service you can order last minute. Ordering opens at 7 p.m. the night before and ends at 9:30 a.m. sharp the day of the lunch. If you wait until last minute, many of the first-choice meals are sold out, so hopping online the night before is crucial. Though this seems like a wide range of time, my co-worker and I both missed at least one day of ordering. MealPass does a pretty good job of sending you email reminders, but sometimes postwork activities get in the way of remembering to sign up!
The Mobile Experience Isn't as Great as Desktop
Ordering off of the MealPass website (on a desktop) is a fairly good user experience. You can see bright, clear images of the dishes, search for nearby restaurants, and hover over pins on a map to check out different meal options. However, all of these features get jumbled in the mobile experience. It was much harder to search for what I wanted. I found myself just picking one of the suggested meals to avoid the headache of trying to untangle the features and tap what I wanted. Some reviewers complain about the lack of healthy options, but I found that most of the meal options were healthy (i.e. kale salads and falafel plates) with a few indulgences (i.e. BLT sandwiches).
The Restaurants and Dishes Are Extremely High-Quality
I couldn't believe how many of my favorite restaurants and their signature dishes made it to MealPass and for several dollars cheaper than I normally buy them. A $12 chicken kale salad for essentially half-price? I couldn't believe it! My co-worker and I also discovered some hidden gems near our work that we plan to frequent. MealPass makes it easy to expand your culinary horizons, because every dish we tried, whether familiar or not, tasted delicious and was filling. One thing that truly surprised me is that none of the food is "leftover" or day-old food. Every restaurant waited until I arrived to make the dish fresh to order.
I definitely plan to extend my subscription to MealPass. Though there are a few annoyances with the user experience and limited ordering time, the price point and the quality of the food make me a MealPass convert.