If you hate to cook or have trouble managing portion control, meal prep services like Blue Apron offer a solution. But there’s also a growing crop of prepared meal delivery services that offer chef-designed meals to fit any diet. These meals arrive over cool packs or dry ice, require little or no prep and take only minutes to reheat in the oven or microwave. Some even come with side dishes, soups and energy bites.
While these meals offer undeniable convenience, registered dietitian nutritionist Mascha Davis warns against relying solely on them for your weekly meal plan. “While these meal delivery services provide delicious, pre-portioned meals that make eating healthy easier, it’s important to keep in mind that they should only be a small part of your total food budget each week,” she says. “Eating primarily ready-made meals can lead to excessive energy intake and may be difficult to maintain long term.”
With more and more companies offering these services, it can be hard to determine which one is right for you. When selecting a prepared meal delivery service, consider several factors, including menu selection, nutritional quality, cost and availability.
A good prepared ready meals delivered service should offer a variety of healthy meals that appeal to different taste preferences and dietary needs, including heart-healthy, low-calorie, gluten free, vegetarian and vegan. Some services also focus on using organic and sustainable ingredients, which can be beneficial for the environment and your health.
You’ll want to choose a prepared meal delivery service that is conveniently located in your area so you can pick up your order or have it delivered to your door. Some services offer a free trial period that allows you to try the service before you decide if it’s right for you.
Some meal delivery services offer a variety of curated bundles, such as sesame crusted salmon and fish tacos, which are perfect for those looking to get their hands dirty in the kitchen. Others allow you to select a la carte options that can be mixed and matched throughout the week.
Whether you choose to use a curated meal bundle or select a la carte options, be sure to pay attention to the serving sizes. Many services include multiple servings in a single container, such as two servings of pasta in a lasagna. You can check the serving size on each item’s nutritional label.
You’ll want to be aware of the amount of sodium, fat and sugars in each prepared meal. Look for a meal delivery service that offers low-sodium or reduced sugar meals, as well as a variety of healthy side dishes to balance out each meal. It’s also important to note how much the service costs per week, including shipping.