Getting a full meal delivered right to your doorstep sure sounds good. But can a meal delivery service also pay off nutritionally?

Your Health, Nutrition and Fitness | 5 years ago

Meal Delivery Services Do More Than Just Save Time

Getting a full meal delivered right to your doorstep sure sounds good. But can a meal delivery service also pay off nutritionally?

Getting a meal on the table can be a hassle. From planning to shopping to the actual cooking, the whole process takes up time, energy and money. It’s no wonder meal delivery services — companies that deliver meal-kits to your front doorstep with personalized ingredients and step-by-step instructions — are growing in popularity. They offer the wholesomeness of a home-cooked meal but with a bit less work.

But are these meal delivery services a good option to people looking to lose weight or get their health on track? And do they provide a good nutritional value? We spoke to Atrium Health registered dietician Tricia Azra, RD, LDN, to learn more about the nutritional and financial benefits and drawbacks of these meal delivery services.

The sales pitch

As meal delivery services get more popular, it can be difficult to sort through the different companies and actually get a handle on what these services offer. But these companies have a few basics in common.

“Every meal delivery service has its own set of services and meal plans,” says Azra. “Generally speaking, you select food preferences and place your orders online, and the food gets delivered to your door. But, you do all of the cooking using easy-to-follow recipes.”

You can also choose how frequently you want the meals — anywhere from once a month to even daily. And don’t worry: While these services offer subscriptions, you’re able to cancel at any time, so you won’t have lots of uncooked food piling up at your doorstep!

The nutritional benefits

There are lots of potential benefits that come from a meal delivery service. Most obviously, avoiding take-out or dining out, which can be crammed with sodium and calories, will almost certainly pay off for your waistline. With a meal prep service, you know everything going into your meal and have access to nutritional information about your meal. And many of these companies generally strive to provide healthy, nutritious and well-balanced meals.

If you’re looking to lose weight, some of these services are specially tailored for that goal. “Most meal delivery services will highlight healthy and fresh food options that are portion controlled, which can be beneficial for weight loss” explains Azra.

Saving time and money?

There’s no doubt about it: Meal delivery services are perfect for busy people. On average, Americans shop for groceries twice per week and spend 30-60 minutes cooking — not counting clean up time in the kitchen. Meal delivery services cut down on all of these time-intensive activities.

But this time saved is ultimately what you’re paying for — and the costs can add up. “It’s probably less expensive than eating out, but more expensive than buying and cooking your own groceries,” says Azra. “The price really depends on the number of meals you get each day, the type of meals you choose and how many days per week you receive meals. In general, cost usually ranges from $10-20 dollars per meal choice or depending on your meal plan cost could range from $50-200 perweek.”

Nutritional flexibility

Luckily, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to meal prep services. You can customize your meal plans to fit your lifestyle and can choose from a variety of different eating plans based on your nutritional needs.

“Some meal delivery services specialize in a certain type of eating style such as diabetic, or vegan, while others will accommodate a variety of eating styles,” says Azra. “Most services allow you to customize your menu according to diet, so if you need extra protein or are a strict vegan with a lactose allergy, in most cases you will be getting the right type of nutrients for your goals.”

And luckily, you don’t have to make a big decision right away. While the cost of subscribing to one of these services isn’t minimal, you have the chance to use these services’ generous first-time user discounts without the commitment of services. 

“Meal delivery services can be a fun and flexible option that can offer many benefits and perks to people seeking an easier way of eating healthy at home,” says Azra. “It’s just a matter of determining if meal delivery services bring enough value and quality to your kitchen to justify the services.”