Prepared meal delivery has the potential to transform your health goals and bring nutrition to the forefront -- with the additional time and hassle that typically goes along with meal prep and cooking. Because of this great potential, it’s worth it to invest time into choosing the right prepared meal delivery service for you. Not all meal delivery services are built equally: if you want prepared meals that you will both eat -- and enjoy -- know what to look for, and what to avoid.
In this blog post, you will learn the 10 things you must be aware of when selecting prepared meal delivery.
1. Prepared Meal Delivery: Fresh vs. Frozen Meals
If a prepared meal delivery service sells you frozen meals: run for the hills...and fast. Frozen meals last longer -- while that may be good for the prepared meal delivery provider and their delivery logistics, that’s not the best thing for you. Often, frozen meals are prepared with chemicals/preservatives to keep the ingredients ‘fresh’, and certain ingredients (lettuce, for example -- which comes with too many health benefits to list) simply won’t be included in the meals.
What to look for: local prepared meal delivery service providers that offer freshly prepared meals each week (not frozen). Avoid national providers: these meals get shipped to you over the course of at least a couple days....and nutritional freshness gets seriously comprised in transit.
2. Prepared Meal Delivery: Healthy Ingredients
If you are going to be utilizing the services of a prepared meal delivery company, don’t pay for sub-par ingredients.
Prepared meal delivery services are businesses, first and foremost, and all too often businesses will compromise the end-product for customers in order to save a few bucks. Here in St. Louis, we’ve heard that some prepared meal delivery services actually use canola oil in their cooking. We won’t go into the details of why an ingredient like canola oil is a major red flag when used by a so-called healthy meal delivery service -- but it is (read more about that here).
What to look for: companies that use organic and local (whenever possible) produce and ingredients. Look for prepared meal delivery services that choose whole ingredients: we prepare our meals with himalayan pink salt, for example, in order to provide our customers with maximum health benefits.
3. Prepared Meal Delivery: Easy-to-Read Nutrition Information
Information is power: if a prepared meal delivery service doesn’t offer easy-to-read, accessible nutritional information for every meal they serve, just say, ‘next, please!’. Having access to the actual nutrition information about the meals you eat (and snacks) gives you the insights you need to meet your health and nutrition goals -- this is especially important if you are following a specific diet such as Keto.
What to look for: every ingredient should be accounted for, and every calorie. The ingredients listed should be names you can easily pronounce (and probably are familiar with). You need to be able to take that nutritional information and apply it to your specific health goals and needs -- without a dictionary, and without a translation app.
4. Prepared Meal Delivery: Variety is the Spice of Life
Getting stuck in a dietary rut will throw even the most dedicated health enthusiasts off of their game. You don’t want to choose a prepared meal delivery service that doesn’t offer a variety of different meals for you to select. Too few options can be a problem if you are following a restricted diet (such as Keto, vegan, or diabetic): a good prepared meal delivery service will understand and get creative to ensure you can stay on track eating delicious foods that are as good for you as they taste.
What to look for: prepared meal choices that are plentiful. If your prepared meal delivery service has a website (and they probably should), take time to check out the different options that are available. To get an idea of what you will be eating, ask about different meals other customers with similar dietary needs have ordered. Find out if there are sample meal plans online or in print.
5. Prepared Meal Delivery: Every Meal Counts
Having a prepared dinner delivered will save you time, sure -- but will that really help you meet your health goals? Not all prepared meal delivery services offer meals beyond dinner, so if you are serious about getting healthy, you may want to find a service that prepares breakfast, lunch, dinner AND snack options.
What to look for: a variety of meals and snack options for every single meal.
There are meal kits that ship you the ingredients you need to cook your own food...and then there are true prepared meal delivery services. If you want convenience, go with a full-service meal delivery company.
What to look for: meals that you can pick up in person, have delivered to your door, refrigerate, microwave, and eat directly in the dish.
7. Prepared Meal Delivery: Flexibility
Some prepared meal delivery providers won’t budge on the plan you initially sign up for. As you get healthy and find what works -- and what doesn’t work -- you will probably want to make changes. Whether you need to change meal plans, or simply need to put your plan on hold while you’re on vacation, don’t get stuck with a service that won’t let you make tweaks.
What to look for: a service that promises flexibility in both meal options and the actual plans they offer. Don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials and customer reviews to truly get a good idea of what to expect.
8. Prepared Meal Delivery: Friendly Packaging
Beware packaging that you can’t heat in your microwave and that isn’t environmentally friendly. BPA plastics are a no-no for both you and the environment, so you probably want to avoid them.
What to look for: meals prepared in microwaveable containers that are also BPA-free. The containers should be well-sealed (you don’t want a messy refrigerator). These containers will, ideally, also be recyclable so you minimize environmental damage (because hey, we’ve all got to do our parts).
9. Prepared Meal Delivery: Customer Service
Customer service can make or break a company -- and a customer’s experience with said company. If a prepared meal delivery service doesn’t value customers, and their happiness, above all else -- keep looking.
What to look for: starter meal plans and health coaches available so you can discuss your goals, a website that makes meal choices and ordering a breeze, and flexibility in terms of picking up your meals vs. delivery. To take the pulse of a prepared meal delivery service’s customer service policies, ask for testimonials and check out online reviews.
10. Prepared Meal Delivery: Options
A prepared meal delivery service should let you select your meals yourself: you don’t want to get sucked into a service that decides for you what you’ll be eating (although that is by far easier for the service).
What to look for: a prepared meal delivery service that gives you choices ahead of time -- and not just one or two choices, but a variety of them.
To sum up, prepared meal delivery services can change your life. With them, you can actually free up time to do things that are good for you (yoga, treadmill, rock climbing….relaxing on the couch) without ending up hungry and in the drive-thru line at 9 PM on a weeknight. To truly get the most out of a prepared meal delivery service, know what to look -- know when to run --- and know what to expect from the provider you choose.