As most young households have a dual income and spend less time at home, it seems to be harder than ever to prepare healthy home-cooked meals, which has sparked a rise in demand for meal kits and pre-prepared dishes delivered to your door.
Some of these services offer pre-cooked meals which simply need to be re-heated, while other meal kits supply you with all the necessary ingredients and recipe cards to make meals at home. So, are these meals worth the hype or not? We’ve summarised the pros and cons for a few of the most common services available.
- Convenience – With all the ingredients and recipe cards to make these dishes delivered to your door, this is definitely a win for those who struggle to get to the supermarket at all.
- Minimal effort – The meals are planned for you, or selected from a range of weekly options which is great for those who are time-poor and don’t enjoy meal planning.
- Weight management options – There are some lower kilojoule options for those trying to lose weight, however, these are limited.
- Energy Content – The majority of the meals are very high in energy, salt and fat and provide around 3000-4000kj per serve, double the energy intake recommended for a standard main meal for an average person. This means that a lot of the meals aren’t suitable for individuals who are trying to manage their weight, have high blood pressure or heart disease.
- Try to forgo the added sauces to reduce the energy content.
- Bulk out the meals with extra serves of vegetable to make the meals go further.
For example, if the recipe states it serves 2, add in extra veggies to extend the recipe to serve 4. This will cut down the energy, fat and salt content per serving considerably.
- Quick – These meals come pre-made in a microwaveable pack and don’t require any cooking or prep.
- Designed to be health and weight conscious
- Taste and texture – These meals are fresh, not frozen, meaning that the taste and texture of the food are kept as authentic as can be for a pre-made meal.
- Cost – At $10 per meal, the cost can quickly add up. Especially if you’re using these meals for both lunch and dinner all week. The portion sizes are fairly small, so if you are the kind of person that has quite an appetite, you might need to bulk the meal out further – increasing the cost again.
- Lack of education – Using a service that takes all of the work out doesn’t promote long-term changes in behaviour as it omits any education around portion sizes or preparing food that supports your goal.
- A great option to have a couple on hand for the days you’re feeling lazy, or don’t have time to cook
- If you find the portion sizes small, add a bag of steamed veggies to help fill you up without adding a lot of extra energy.
- Buy in bulk in a bundle pack and freeze some. This works out a lot cheaper than buying at the individual price.
- Convenience – You can select to have all meals delivered to your door, or select the plan that suits your needs best.
- Developed by dietitians to support weight loss
- Limited options – The meals may become mundane if you choose to use this service for a long period.
- Cost – It can be quite expensive if used for all meals across the day.
- Lack of education/doesn’t promote long-term change – Once you finish using the service it can be hard to maintain or continue to lose weight as you haven’t learned anything about how to prepare food to support your goal
- Isolation – After a while, it may feel like you are missing out if you are eating a different meal to your partner or family every night.
- Use these services to start a weight loss journey, but keep in mind that you will need to learn about healthy recipes and take note of portion sizes so, you can continue to lose or maintain weight loss when you stop ordering this service.
- Try to stick with 3 main meal options to reduce the cost. You could even just order the lunch and dinner options and make a high fibre/protein breakfast to keep you full until lunch.
- Some great options include: 1/3 cup rolled oats with ½ cup low-fat milk or 1 slice of wholegrain toast with 2 eggs.
- Enlist the help of a dietitian to help you transition out of using this service to preparing your meals so that you can learn healthy eating principles to maintain long term results.
The Verdict on Meal Kits & Delivery Services?
All of these meal services can provide convenient, home-delivered food which can greatly reduce the burden of shopping and in some cases cooking. However, it is important that you select a service that is appropriate for your goals. If you are looking to lose weight or manage specific health conditions then services such as Hello Fresh or Marley Spoon will need to be altered so that they are suitable to your specific needs.
If you’d like to know more or want individual advice, head to the link to speak with one of our dietitians.