Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Yet, it’s often said that you can’t outrun a poor diet. So, if you want to make your time in the gym count, you also need to pay attention to what’s on your plate.
Some people do this by learning everything they can about how to create healthy food. They might pick up a book about a specific diet plan, such as the paleo diet or Mediterranean diet. Or they follow someone on social media who gives tips for creating healthy snacks.
Others might decide to sign up with a meal delivery service. Taking this route does offer some pros, but also some cons. Before we get into whether meal delivery can help you reach your specific wellness goals, let’s first talk about what this type of service entails and how it works.
The one thing that every subscription has in common is that they deliver food to your door. Outside of this, each meal delivery service operates a bit differently. Here are just a few of the differences:
Fresh ingredients vs frozen meals. Some services deliver frozen food while others supply strictly fresh ingredients. Oftentimes, the frozen meals are heat-and-go and the fresh are ingredients that when put together make a balanced meal.
Cooking requirements. A lot of meal subscriptions boast that you can cook your delivered meal in 30 minutes or less. The cooking methods can vary as well, ranging from stove to oven to slow cooker. Though, there are a few that require no cooking at all.
Meal prep differences. Services also differ in how much meal prep is required on your part. Some come with the entire meal prepared and ready to go. Others supply the ingredients and the recipe. The rest is up to you.
Frequency. Many of the companies provide meal delivery weekly. If you don’t want meals a specific week, all you have to do is skip or cancel that delivery. There are a few that do provide monthly delivery. If you choose one of these, your foods are likely going to be frozen.
Number of meals delivered. Do want just your dinners delivered or enough food for lunches too? You can choose a subscription package based on how many meals you want delivered each week.
Solo, couple, or family subscriptions. It doesn’t matter if you live alone, with your partner, or if you have a large family. There are plenty of meal delivery options for each situation.
Food choice. Depending on the service, you may have some say in the type of food you receive. This might involve picking out the foods you want in your delivery or choosing foods based on a specific recipe.
Dietary needs. If you follow a certain diet, many of the meal services offer the ability to choose recipes that follow that plan. A few of the most common include paleo, keto, gluten free, and low carb options.
Cost. The amount you will pay per meal varies based on the subscription service you choose. Some services charge a couple of bucks for each meal while others are $9 each or more. Additionally, some include shipping costs in the price whereas others charge for delivery as an add-on expense.
This outlines just how varied meal subscriptions can be. All of these options are great because it offers consumers the ability to choose the plan that best aligns with what they want for themselves or their families. But why might you want to use a meal service when you have easy access to the same types of foods at your local grocery store?
Potential Benefits of Using Meal Delivery
For many, meal delivery is all about convenience. Once you’ve put in a full day at work and hit the gym for your workout, the last thing you may feel like doing is cooking a meal.
Plus, if you receive a prepared meal, you’re only in the kitchen long enough to heat it. That makes this a good option for someone who doesn’t particularly like to cook. Simply take your frozen meal, place it in the oven or microwave, and you’re good to go.
Fresh meals require a bit more time but are typically still easy to prepare. Follow the meal prep instructions, cook up the food, and soon you’ll be eating a plate that looks like it came from a fancy restaurant. And the ingredients were delivered right to your door!
Using a meal delivery also provides access to a balanced plate. If you struggle to get your veggies in daily, for instance, using this type of service can help correct that. A healthy meal provided by a service often contains a variety of macro and micronutrients. This takes the pressure off having to create your own meals with this type of balance.
If you stick with a meal delivery long enough, you’ll also likely get a better feel for what a healthy weekly meal plan looks like. This is information you can take moving forward should you ever decide to cancel the subscription.
Meal Service Cons
Even amongst all of these benefits, there are a few potential cons with using a meal delivery service. One is that if you have certain dietary restrictions, the meal plan you want might not work. Maybe you’re vegan but the service you’d like to use doesn’t offer the ability to order only plant-based meals. Or you follow a keto eating plan, but most of the options are higher in carbs. If a service can’t supply meals that follow your dietary needs, it’s never going to work.
The meal delivery service also might not allow you to modify your meal based on your dietary preferences. Don’t like mushrooms or nuts? Does the idea of eating eggplant or mango make you sick to your stomach? Not all services allow you to omit certain ingredients just because you don’t like their taste. Unless you can give them away, they will go to waste.
Using meal delivery also doesn’t teach you how to meal plan or meal prep. So, once you quit using the service, you might go back to your old ways of eating because you haven’t learned these skills.
Can a Meal Subscription Support Your Goals?
Maybe you’ve considered the pros and cons of meal delivery and are still interested. Yet, you’re not quite sure whether this type of service will help you achieve your goals. The answer to this question is: maybe.
If you have a weight loss goal, for instance, whether a meal delivery would support this depends on the areas where you tend to struggle with regard to healthy eating. If your main issue is that you eat fast food because you don’t like to spend hours in the kitchen to meal prep and plan, a subscription service can keep you out of the drive-thru lane. A meal delivery might also help if your weight loss struggles center around portion control. Since the meals come in pre-packaged sizes, you don’t run the risk of making (or eating) too much.
Conversely, if weight loss is a challenge because you eat tend to eat a high calorie snack before bed every night, eating a healthy dinner isn’t necessarily going to change that. Getting meal kits delivered to your door also doesn’t work if you travel a lot for work. By the time you get back, the frozen food would be thawed and the fresh foods wilted.
To help decide whether a meal subscription would support your goals, take the time to learn how the plan works. Then, consider whether this fits with your lifestyle. If it does, will the meal delivery also reduce some of the challenges that you currently face? If the answer is yes again, then subscribing to this type of service may help you get closer to your goals.
How to Choose a Healthy Meal Delivery Service
Because there are so many options, it may feel overwhelming to decide which one to use. If one stands out to you, read the reviews. Do an online search for that meal service followed by the word “reviews.” Then go to independent sites to see what others are saying about it. This can help you decide whether it’s worth trying or not.
From a personal training perspective, it’s always important to teach clients about the role that nutrition plays in reaching one’s fitness goal. If you’d like to take this one step further and help clients with meal planning too, ISSA offers Nutritionist certification. This course teaches you the ins and outs of creating a healthy diet based on the client’s dietary needs.
By becoming an ISSA Nutritionist, you'll learn the foundations of how food fuels the body, plus step by step methods for implementing a healthy eating plan into clients' lifestyles.