The number of meal-delivery services offered to Kiwi consumers has soared as time-poor workers rely on companies to think for them when it comes to their evening meal.

The concept met a growing demand for convenience, said a consumer behaviour expert, as our lives became busier and free time dwindled.

University of Auckland's associate professor Karen Fernandez said food bag delivery services provided Kiwis with a happy medium between takeaway meals and going the full hog to buy ingredients and cook a meal.

"It's different from just getting the meals delivered - you actually have to do something.

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"You feel like you've created something for your family."

Most of the services offered weekly deliveries of boxes full of all the ingredients needed to make recipes - which were also provided.

Some took away the chore of cutting the vegetables, which arrived pre-diced.

Many of the meal-subscription services allow customers to customise their food boxes depending on how many people are in the family, food allergies, dietary needs or preferences.

Master Chef winner Nadia Lim, Theresa Gattung and Cecilia Robinson kick-started the market for food delivery bags with My Food Bag. Lim followed up the success with another offering - Bargain Box.

The Herald on Sunday compared eight food boxes, from eight companies' standard of classic offerings. The analysis was based on a delivery for four people, or two adults and two children.

After Kai Box, which only offers vegan meals, Bargain Box' Regular Box was the cheapest at $139.99 or $7 meal per person.

Thomas Dietz, founder and CEO of WOOP (centre), with WOOP chefs Kristen Staines and Kamil Splinter. Photo / Supplied
Thomas Dietz, founder and CEO of WOOP (centre), with WOOP chefs Kristen Staines and Kamil Splinter. Photo / Supplied

WOOP's Classic Box costs $199 for four nights (which feeds five) at $9.95 per meal, per person.

WOOP spokesman William Lockie said their offering set itself apart from the rest, by taking the extra work out of the preparation.

"Vegetables are sliced and diced, sauces and dressings handmade and everything is ready to go, so you can have the satisfaction of cooking dinner in half the time."

The Bachelor stars Art and Matilda's paleo PlateUp was more pricey at $16 per meal, per person but the meals came pre-packaged and required the consumer only to heat up.

WOOP, is on Tuesday launching its Balance Box, based on a Mediterranean style of eating, with half of every plate made up of locally-grown seasonal vegetables.

"It's the French way, just as drinking too much is bad but having two glasses of wine a day isn't bad at all, it's even quite good," WOOP founder, and French expat, Thomas Dietz says.

Art Green and Matilda Rice launched their food home delivery programme Plate Up earlier this year, becoming one of the more recent additions additions to the competition. Photo / Supplied
Art Green and Matilda Rice launched their food home delivery programme Plate Up earlier this year, becoming one of the more recent additions additions to the competition. Photo / Supplied

"Everything is about moderation, which doesn't mean it needs to be boring.

"It's [Balance Box] really inspired by the European way of eating where we don't stop eating something.

"Because each time you stop eating something you naturally come back to it.

"I always tend to think diets are the short period of time before significant increases in weight, and people don't continue them long."

Healthy Food Guide editor Niki Bezzant helped design the menu based on the eating style of Blue Zone countries, known for their long-lived citizens.

"The Blue Zones are a group of five or six populations around the world who eat in a very healthy way, some in Europe, some other places like Japan," Bezzant said.

'What they have in common is meals based on plant food - colourful vegetables.

"They don't diet, nothing faddish, they don't give up any food groups."

Nadia Lim kick-started the market for food delivery bags with My Food Bag, and has followed up the success with another offering - Bargain Box. Photo / Supplied
Nadia Lim kick-started the market for food delivery bags with My Food Bag, and has followed up the success with another offering - Bargain Box. Photo / Supplied

Bezzant said she wasn't always convinced by the concept.

"I think the food kits are one of those things we didn't know we needed until we got it.

"When the first kits came out I actually thought 'who's going to do that?'

"But now what I've realised, they've been hugely successful because, for most people, the planning and organisation of dinner can be quite a challenge. These things solve that problem."

My Food Bag has a weight loss meal option openly based around restraint.

The Fresh Start meal kit has a maximum of 450 calories per serve, is refined sugar-free, and only includes carefully selected carbs.

My Food bag chief executive Kevin Bowler said they considered "diet" a dirty word, and preferred the expression "Nude Food".

"Trust your instincts.

"We often listen to so called 'experts' when it comes to what you eat, but the truth is, as individuals we genetically vary so no one diet fits all.

"You are your best guide, listen to your body and let it tell you what works for you," Bowler says.