Meal Delivery Services: Are they Healthy?
At-home meal delivery services, like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, are quickly gaining popularity. These services take the planning and shopping out of cooking at home, which is a huge draw for those of us with busy lives! The way it works is you log onto the website, select the meals you want to make from a list of options (they change weekly!), pick your delivery date, and viola! A box containing the recipes and ingredients for the delicious meals will be at your door step. All you need to do is a little prep and cooking! Sounds great, right? But are they healthy?
-Each meal is balanced with a protein, veggie, and sometimes a starch
-Provide nutrition information on the website so you can make educated choices
-Fresh, natural ingredients
-You can control how much oil and seasoning you add and can even modify the meal if you don't like something since you are cooking it!
-Encourages you to try new foods
-Some meals contain refined grains
-Recommended portion sizes are fairly big for some meals
-Calorie and carb counts can be high
One huge pro to these services is that you can look at the nutrition information before ordering. Out of a number of options you can choose the best ones for your plan. The portion sizes can be large and, from personal experience, I have found that many of them can provide twice as many servings as the recipe suggests. Follow the portion sizes you would normally serve yourself when cooking- size of the palm of your hand for meat, 1/2 cup for starches, & load up the veggies! Have a side salad with it or add in extra veggies if you need to fill up your plate. One service, Sunbasket, has meal plan options in which you can choose plans like Paleo and "Lean and Clean." These plans are modified to fit that type of diet. Another pro to these services is the meals use fresh ingredients so you don't have to worry about preservatives and other additives like in frozen or convenience foods. They are not free of refined grains though so either substitute your own whole grains or only choose the meals with whole grains or starchy veggies as the carb. Another pro is it can be a great way to try new foods that you wouldn't normally buy in the grocery store. Also, cuts down on food waste since you are only sent what you need for the recipe. No more using the excuse of not buying veggies because you are afraid they will go bad! Also, all meats are vacuum packed so they can last up to a week. You can also freeze the ingredients if you won't have time to cook them up that week.
Overall, meal delivery services can be a very healthy and convenient option. You still need to keep your nutrition goggles on and read the nutrition information/make substitutions if necessary but you should be able to find healthy options each week that you will feel good about eating! And you might even look forward to cooking!
Examples of Meal Delivery Services: