What do you do when you don’t feel like cooking, or don’t have the time to make dinner?
- Go out
- Order pizza or Chinese food from the place around the corner
- Find something that looks good on GrubHub or DoorDash
- Rummage through the fridge, pantry or freezer and eat leftovers, Ramen, or a pint of ice cream
Those are all valid options, more or less.
They can also get quite expensive, and they certainly aren’t very healthy choices.
If you’re doing your best to eat sensibly – or even worse, if you’re on a diet – they’re particularly bad alternatives.
What are better alternatives? Meal delivery services.
How Meal Delivery Services Work
These meal plan services shouldn’t be confused with DoorDash or similar food delivery companies.
- The best meal kit delivery services ship a collection of pre-selected, high-quality ingredients accompanied by recipe cards, or a number of prepared meals, directly to your door every week.
- They’re subscription services, so they’re designed to be used over the long-term.
- And they’re perfect for people who don’t have the time for grocery shopping and meal preparation, or don’t have the skills (or the desire) to create healthy meals at home.
Meal kit services usually ship your fresh ingredients or meals, in insulated and compostable packaging filled with ice packs, once per week. (A few companies deliver frozen meals.) Some services offer delivery on a day of your choosing, while others specify the day that your meal delivery kits will arrive.
The process is handled completely over the internet. After you sign up and decide how many meals you’d like each week (you’ll usually get to choose between two-person meals or family plans), you make your choices for the week from an online menu. Most delivery services change their meal options and add new recipes regularly, and a number of them offer vegan and vegetarian options. A few will let you choose healthy add-ons like smoothies as well.
If you have dietary restrictions or are following a specific type of diet, some services deliver meals specifically designed for your needs. You’ll find companies which offer keto, Paleo, Carnivore, Omnivore, Mediterranean, pescatarian, low-carb, high-protein, dairy-free and gluten-free meals. A few even offer complete meal plans for special dietary needs, and a few use only organic ingredients.
There’s one important distinction between the best meal delivery services. A few of them ship meals that have already been fully-cooked and plated by gourmet chefs; all that’s required is heating them up in the oven or microwave. Most, however, simply send you the recipes and necessary ingredients; preparing and cooking the meal is then up to you. Some even require you to buy the spices, oils and dairy products on your own.
The second option is fine for accomplished home chefs or those who aspire to be Martha Stewart one day. But most people who order meal kit delivery don’t have time to spend at the grocery store or on meal prep. That makes services that ship pre-cooked, delicious meals worth their weight in gold.
One key issue we haven’t addressed yet: what do these meals taste like? It varies from company to company, of course, but most are actually pretty tasty. Generally speaking, they’re created by nutritionists and skew pretty heavily toward veggies, whole grains and lean proteins, making them healthy by default. As long as you’re not accustomed to (or expecting) a diet heavy on pizza, subs and Whoppers, you’re likely to be more than satisfied.
So – how do you choose the right meal kit delivery service? Here are some suggestions.
The Best Meal Delivery Service For Specific Preferences
Gluten-Free Meal Delivery Kits
A growing number of Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease and must follow a medically-prescribed gluten-free diet.
Many others, meanwhile, have realized the health benefits of eliminating wheat-based bread and pasta, cereals, bakery products, and sugary sauces and marinades from their diet.
The good news is that a gluten-free diet is one of the least-restrictive possible. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, non-flavored dairy products, grains like rice and quinoa, starches like potatoes and corn, and most beverages can all be used to make an infinite number of delicious gluten-free meals.
That doesn’t mean that you can choose any meal kit service when you’ve decided to eliminate gluten from your diet. There’s one service which delivers fresh, yummy – and already-prepared gluten-free meals (with no refined sugars) ready to be heated and eaten.
Click here to read more about the best gluten-free meal kit service.
The Best Meal Delivery Service for Weight Loss
Some people trying to lose weight follow the rigorous guidelines set down by diets like the keto or Paleo diet. Most, however, simply take the time-honored approach recommended by health professionals: get plenty of exercise and eat healthy foods in moderation.
But that’s a lot of work. And it requires a great deal of prep time to regularly cook meals designed around lean proteins, fish, whole grains, and lots of fruits and vegetables. In fact, just carving out an hour to go to the grocery store to stock up on chicken breasts, brown rice and kale isn’t easy after a busy and stressful workday.
The smart alternative is to find a meal kit delivery service that offers a wide variety of nutritious meals, prepared by gourmet chefs using fresh ingredients, grass-fed proteins, and non-GMO ingredients.
Here’s the best meal delivery service for weight loss.
Low-Sodium Diet Meal Delivery
Low-sodium diets aren’t as simple as they might sound. There’s a ton of salt in most packaged, canned, and pre-made frozen foods, so they’re all off-limits on a low-sodium diet.
What does that leave? Almost every fresh ingredient under the sun and even many snack foods that don’t contain added sodium. A qualified dietitian can design a virtually-unlimited number of mouth-watering healthy and organic meals from a pantry like that – everything from burgers and healthy fish tacos, to scrumptious Chinese and Thai dishes.
One meal delivery program offers some great low-sodium options (be sure to view the nutrition information when selecting meals). All meals are pre-cooked by gourmet chefs and delivered fresh to your door, ready for the oven or microwave.
You can learn more about it here.
Paleo Diet Meal Kit Delivery
Not everyone can handle the Paleo Diet. It’s one of the most restrictive diet programs currently in vogue, requiring you to avoid (among other ingredients) grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugars and artificial sweeteners.
But when an expert nutritionist sets out to design a full menu of Paleo meals, a diet focusing primarily on lean meat, poultry, fish, seeds, nuts, non-starchy vegetables and a few fruits can be absolutely yummy. For example, if sweet potatoes are substituted for white potatoes and zucchini pasta replaces “regular” pasta, Paleo meals closely resemble the meals most of us grew up eating.
One service, in particular, delivers outstanding, fresh-cooked Paleo meals right to your door, so you can look forward to heating up terrific dinners while you watch the pounds fall off. Read more about it here.
The Ultimate Healthy Dinner Solution for Busy Lives
Meal kit delivery services have become so popular that the USDA plans on issuing rules on meal kit preparation and labeling. That means that dieters who want to try a delivery service have more choices than ever; unfortunately, most of them either deliver boxes of ingredients which require enormous amounts of prep time, or ship frozen meals which have been stripped of most of their nutrients.
Factor’s fully-prepared meal delivery service utilizes the ultimate in healthy, fresh ingredients – and then delivers them right to your door: still healthy, still fresh, and ready to be eaten in just minutes. Meals simply need to be heated in the microwave or oven before being enjoyed. Factor is the perfect combination of delicious food, balanced nutrition and convenience.
Factor is very strict about what is included in meals, and chefs use only the highest quality, freshest ingredients available. Every meal is free of gluten, hormones, antibiotics, and preservatives. All meats are pasture-raised and grass-fed.
And if you’re not sure where to start or have questions, Factor’s team of dietitians are on-hand to offer a complimentary consultation to any new or prospective customers! Packages for continued nutrition coaching and support are also available.
They’re definitely worth a try.