As a nutritionist, I felt obligated to try a few of the meal-kit services I’ve seen advertised on the market today. While I enjoy planning out a week’s worth of meals and doing the grocery shopping, I know many of the clients I work with don’t have the time or the desire for meal planning and shopping. Or they have great intentions, head to the grocery store and load up on an impressive array of fruits and vegetables only to throw out half of them at week’s end. Meal-kits deliveries can be just the right fix for some families.
First, there’s the fun factor. Admittedly, it’s was pretty exciting to have all the ingredients in just the right amounts delivered to my door. The premeasured and chopped onions, garlic and fresh herbs were quite a timesaver.
Here’s my take on the some of the advantages and disadvantages the three home meal-kit delivery services my family tried out.
Delivery was right on time and the meats were kept plenty cold. The recipe cards clearly presented the nutrition facts and the meals were easy to prepare and tasty, too. But the cleanup was noteworthy.
From the perspective of a nutritionist, the meals were high in sodium and protein but lacking in low glycemic vegetables – there were lots of pastas and potatoes. This service currently offers only three plans: vegetarian, classic and family style. If you follow a particular type of eating plan, say dairy-free or paleo, this plan would take extra time to cull through the ingredient list. If you’re interested in organic, skip this plan.
Of the three plans I sampled, Hello Fresh was the most economical with an average cost of $10 per serving.
Recommendation: This would be a good option for folks transitioning from fast food and takeout to tasty and easy to prepare home-cooked meals. For a healthier option, add a low-glycemic vegetable side dish to these meals.
This company uses a variety of delivery services – some major, recognizable ones and some rather obscure ones. Find out which days the major players deliver to your neighborhood when deciding which day to schedule your delivery. (Mine was a lesser-known delivery service and my dogs alerted me to the delivery at midnight! The customer service rep was awesome in compensating me though.)
The ingredients are organic and the recipes quite interesting and tasty. And I tried something new! How had I never enjoyed kumquats before?
You can skip a week’s delivery online but if you want to cancel the service you’ll have to make a phone call. Sun Basket offers eight different meal plans including Paleo, Pescatarian, Vegan and Diabetes-Friendly. The average cost per serving is $12.
Recommendation: This is great option for those seeking specific dietary plans as well as organic meats and produce.
This service offers the largest number of meals to choose from with four new meals added weekly. Lunch and snack items are also available for delivery. The delivery day is flexible in some areas but depending on where you live, options may not be available. (My delivery is Thursday, which really isn’t the most optimal day for my family.) The recipes are interesting, visually appealing and easy to make. While not 100% organic, Terra’s Kitchen does supply some organic produce, their meat and poultry are hormone-free and sustainable raised and the fish is wild-caught and sustainable.
Selecting your meals for this service is a tad different – you can choose meals from different dietary plans and you can also select additional meats, fruits, vegetables and even lunch salads. An app keeps track of how full your vessel is and lets you know if an additional item won’t fit.
This is a great feature especially if you want to add more veg to your meal or if you want change things up and order an appealing meal from on the vegetarian/vegan side and add some additional animal protein. The meals range from about $10.50 – $15 per serving.
Recommendation: This is a nice fit for those interested in organic/sustainable produce and meats and for those interested in environmentally friendly business practices (see note below).
A note about the carbon footprint of meal kit deliver services
It’s hard to overlook the resources that go into delivering these meal-kits. While much of the packing is recyclable, there is just an awful lot of it. However, in considering the amount of food that is purchased and goes to waste in many families’ refrigerators on a weekly basis, the meal-kit services do have merit.
I was particularly impressed by Terra’s Kitchen’s efforts to reduce resources. Their service comes in a returnable vessel (that can be reused 100 times) vs. the considerable amount of recyclable materials that come with Hello Fresh and Sun Basket. Further, just as FedEx delivered the vessel on time, they were back the following morning to pick up the vessel without my having to do anything other than leave it on my front porch. Terra’s Kitchen scored extra points from me for being more environmentally friendly and for the great customer service.
Eat well. Be well.