Demystifying Meal Delivery Services. Which One Is Right for You?

Honestly, I hate cooking. WHAT? Yes, it’s true. I don’t enjoy spending hours in the grocery store, chopping and preparing ingredients and spending what little free time I have in the evenings and on the weekends acting like I’m MFing Ina Garten or Rachael Ray. BUT! I do like eating nutritious, balanced meals and snacks that fuel my body and keep me healthy, lean and strong.

It’s no secret that my partner and I do a fair amount of meal prep and have loads of hacks for keeping our meal prep woes at bay (if you don’t already, follow me on Facebook or Instagram for recipes and tips). But at times even pros like me need a little help to keep my meals and macros in check when life gets busy. So here is a breakdown of some of my favorite food delivery services. I’ve listed them in order of how much work they require (from 90s to about an hour).

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For the Serious Meal Prep and Macro Planner

Fuel Smart Meal Delivery
Unlike many of the more widely known food delivery services, this one is completely customizable to your goals (body fat reduction, maintenance or muscle growth). You can optimize your meals to hit your caloric goals and your macro goals (specific target grams of protein, carbs and fat). And the price/meal is scalable so you pay based on the quantity of food you need. Meals come nearly cooked, frozen and plated. You pop them in the microwave for 90s and the special packaging completes the meal and it comes out ready to eat. The food options are tasty, all natural and the packaging is small so whether you order 6, 12 or 15 meals/week they will fit your freezer and your life. The service also comes with a mobile app to track your intake of their meals and other food. So if you are serious about food tracking and hitting your macros, this is a fabulous option. At roughly $10-12/meal (including shipping) it’s cheaper than a Whole Foods salad! Meals last for weeks in the freezer because they are airtight (they contain no preservatives).

Fuel Meals
Similar name to the option above, but a different company. If you don’t like having your meals frozen or want different options this one has lots of a la carte options in addition to customized macros. Unlike the one above, this one also offers breakfast meals. Lots of gluten free options here too and “coming soon” paleo, vegan and vegetarian options. Prices for full portions are about the same. Because these are refrigerated and not frozen they have a shorter shelf life.

Restaurant Style Meals on Demand

What I like about Fuel Smart Meals and Fuel Meals is the amount of customization of options by caloric and macro needs. I also like that you can order and store 6-15 meals at a time so you always have your planned meals on hand which helps with adherence to your nutritional plan. But for some people, this may be more than they want or need to think about. So there are some decent “ad hoc” meal delivery services on the market that I like in a pinch. Full caveat. These are generally “fancy” meals prepared by chefs. So you should be careful as these are similar to eating out a restaurant. Use your brain while making your selections because these are full of temptations but do offer some healthy options.

This is my preferred of the “restaurant” style meal delivery services. Sprig offers a lot of organic, sustainable ingredients and their app discloses nutritional info (including macros) as well as ingredients list and sourcing info. So you know what you’re getting. At this time they deliver meals 10a-4p weekdays for lunch, 4p-10p all week for dinner and 8a-4p for brunch. At the moment they are limited to the Bay Area. So this isn’t really a “meal prep” but a solid option if you find yourself in a bind (i.e. working late, too tired after the gym or just in need of a healthy-ish treat).

For ME the M in Munchery stands for MODERATION. It’s easy and tasty but it can be challenging to end up with a truly healthy meal. Munchery also provides nutritional info which is awesome. But a lot of the meals are well over 1,000 calories and are high in sodium. So don’t fool yourself. These are restaurant meals delivered to you. Even the healthier looking entrees can have hidden devils (i.e. sodium). While writing this I checked today’s menu. The “Gremolata Baked Salmon” at first glance looks perfect (490kcal, 39g protein, 33g fat, 11g carbs). But then there’s 1,100mg sodium. The AHA recommends no more than 1,500mg/day! The good news is they deliver to the Bay Area, Seattle, LA and New York. Use with moderation and use your head when making your selections.

Full disclosure, this one I’ve not tried personally but from what I read this may be a solid option for my vegetarian folks or those just looking for more creative ways to get more veggies. According to the web site they do not use preservatives and “Hungryroot is all natural, locally- sourced, non-GMO, gluten-free, under 500 calories, and most importantly, delicious and filling.” Meals require ~7 minutes of cooking. They deliver to many states on both the West and East Coasts.  

Learn HOW to Cook

Blue Apron
I’m a BIG fan of Blue Apron. Each week they will deliver to you a big box of fresh ingredients and simple, step-by-step recipe cards. You get three recipes (serves two so six meals) for about $60. They send you everything you will need (except salt and pepper). Here’s the catch: plan to spend about an hour to actually prep and cook the meals. So frankly, it’s a big time investment if you’re a busy professional. But speaking from personal experience, it’s WELL WORTH IT at least for a few weeks or months. You will learn how to cook and how to prepare and use a wide variety of new ingredients and methods. It can be challenging to carve out the time, but if you can I highly suggest it. And if you know you will have a busy week or will be on vacation, the tool lets you skip weeks with no cost or penalty and it also allows you to customize your meals based on your protein preferences (i.e. if you don’t eat red meat, only want fish, are vegetarian, etc). Meals range from around 500-750kcal.

Grocery Delivery

And sometimes you know exactly what you want to make your ideal meal but you just don’t have the time or patience to go to the grocery store to get the dang ingredients. There’s an app for that! Several actually. Check these out.