Prepared Meal Delivery: 5 Things to Look For

Sorry chain fast food restaurants... from meal kit subscription services to actual meal delivery, Americans want fast food that’s actually healthy. Prepared meal delivery is becoming more and more popular -- but what, exactly, does ‘prepared meal delivery’ mean?  

Prepared Meal Delivery 101

Meals prepared and delivered door-to-door: these can be defined as ready-to-eat meals that you don’t have to buy ingredients for, prep, cook, or pick up yourself. Beyond that, there are simply no hard and fast definitions governing exactly what prepared meal delivery encompasses -- and not all prepared meal delivery services are the same.

If you are looking to make major changes in your diet, health, and free time -- you need to know what to look for in a service (and what to avoid).

Below are the five key factors you should both consider and be aware of when choosing the right prepared meal delivery option for you.

Prepared Meal Delivery 101: Quality Ingredients Matter

Look for a meal delivery service that doesn’t cut corners. Restaurants and catering services often put one goal above all else: profits. It makes sense (and cents): running a successful food service operation is complex and, as you may know, food service operators can easily end up under water due to rising costs and not enough profits. To find a prepared meal delivery service that will work for your goals, however, you need to make sure you work with one that’s not putting your health goals on the back burner.

Beware of prepared meal delivery that use ingredients that may seem ‘healthy ‘at first glance (such as canola oil) but, when you look under the hood, are problematic. Instead, work with companies that offer full nutritional information and ingredients for every single meal they deliver.

Ideally, you should work with a company that is firmly rooted in nutritional health (ideally: they are passionate about it, too). Some meal delivery services actually offer nutritional counseling alongside their meals -- this is usually a good sign that the company is putting your health first (as long as they aren’t giving you a sales pitch and freeze-dried meals...but that’s a story for another day). Meals that are prepared with fresh produce -- local and organic when in season -- are an excellent sign.

Markers of a prepared meal delivery that offers quality ingredients include:

  • meals prepared fresh (meals take hours, and not days, to get delivered from their kitchen to your door)
  • science-based according to the latest research on nutritional health
  • freshness of meals
  • local and organic when in season

Prepared Meal Delivery 101: Your Diet Matters

If you have specific dietary needs, you shouldn’t shape your diet around what a meal delivery service prepares. Rather, you should find a meal delivery service that caters to your specific diet. A company that decides what they think ‘healthy’ food is and has a ‘their way or the highway approach’ isn’t going to be able to meet the needs of those who follow specific diets for health reasons.

Ideally, you should choose a company that understands speciality diets well. At Pure Plates, we do offer a large variety of different meal plans to meet the wide variety of dietary needs in the St. Louis area:

  • Paleo
  • Keto
  • Vegan/Vegetarian
  • Diabetic
  • Gluten-Free 

If you need to be on a gluten-free diet, for example, it’s probably best to choose a company that simply doesn’t use gluten (like us here at Pure Plates). This eliminates the risk of contamination that can happen in the kitchen. 

Prepared Meal Delivery 101: Reputation Matters

When you’re on vacation, how do you find a new restaurant? You don’t just walk into the first place serving meals, do you? Nope. You probably, at the very least, ask a local what’s good. You may also hop on the web and navigate over to Yelp, Facebook, or check out the company website. You’ll probably take a look at the menu before you order.

Choosing a prepared meal delivery service deserves, at least, the same amount of consideration. If you are going with a meal delivery service to save time on meal prep and shopping -- and meet your nutritional health goals -- you don’t want to get stuck with a service that doesn’t actually deliver the results, flavor, and convenience you need.

To get word-of-mouth recommendations, you could ask your medical team or nutritionist, you could ask around at the gym you work out at, or you could ask in an online group. Yelp is a great place to find a bevy of reviews and to get your pulse on what to expect - at best and at worst - from a meal delivery service. Facebook also has reviews. Many companies, such as ours, also provide testimonials right on their website. This is a good place to find out about a service’s strengths.

Prepared Meal Delivery 101: Variety Matters

If you don’t want to get stuck eating the same three meal options every week, be sure to choose a meal delivery service that prepares a variety of options for you to choose from.
If you’re in St. Louis, you can check out our options. We mix things up and offer a wide array of snacks, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for every diet we cater to.

For example, if you have Diabetes Type 2, options include everything from our Very Berry Crepes to Pesto Salmon to BBQ Pork (with sweet potato). Snacks include our crowd favorite lemon bars, coconut fudge, and cashew butter logs (just examples, we have many more). On a ketogenic diet? Options range from our popular Cajun Turkey to Pecan Crusted Chicken: for breakfast, try an omelette stack.

Bottomline? Don’t get stuck in a rut: when you get sick of a diet, you’re less likely to stick to it. Make sure you choose prepared meal delivery that can give you the variety and different types of meals you need so that you don’t end up caving and falling off the diet wagon.

Prepared Meal Delivery 101: Convenience Matters

Ultimately, prepared meal delivery should make life easy for you. This is where meal kit subscription services fail -- and where meal delivery like ours can really shine and deliver results.

Just getting started on a new diet? Many prepared meal delivery services may offer plans similar to our Fresh Start 30. With this plan, you get a surefire diet with 30 days of custom meals designed around your specific needs -- working with our nutrition coach. There’s no stress on your end: just lots of good flavor and great results!

As we discussed above, find a meal delivery service that offers meals around your diet. You don’t want to end up eating the same salad every day -- or trying to piece together a keto-friendly meal plan for yourself every week. Nutrition and ingredient information should be clearly labeled for you.

Delivery should be offered -- as well as the option to pick-up your meals in person if that’s what works best for you. Meal delivery services should be affordable enough that they are sustainable over time, yet still full of the quality ingredients that gives your body the fuel it needs to do its best.

The actual meals should be as easy as heating them up. We deliver our prepared meals in BPA-free, microwave-safe containers that stack up easily in your home refrigerator.

In sum, prepared meal delivery should, first and foremost, deliver results. The above 5 factors all work together to deliver results. You can’t get results, for example, if you are trying to make a service that’s not Keto-friendly somehow fit within your keto diet. You can’t get results if you get bored eating the same two or three meals every single week. You can’t get results if you get meals delivered that actually take a great deal of work and dishes before you’re ready.

Prepared meal delivery should be easy, affordable, plentiful, actually healthy, and work for the diet you are following...oh, and they should also deliver out-of-this-world tastes, too!