Can a Meal-Kit Delivery Company Help You Lose Weight?
Sure, celebrities like Beyoncé, Tom Brady, Giselle, and J. Lo look amazing – but it may be because they have personal chefs that make them healthy and delicious food, not to mention private trainers and beauticians among their army of employees. They never have to step into the grocery store or even the kitchen. They don’t have to wonder, “What should I eat today?” Because someone else makes that choice for them! It’s not surprising that, knowing this, you’ve probably thought, at some point, that if someone was there to cook your food or tell you exactly what to make, you’d lose weight. Well, there’s good news. Thanks to today’s abundance of meal delivery services, we now have nearly the same options as the celebrities!
Here are some of the key points to keep in mind when considering a meal-kit delivery service:
Convenience. Meal-kit delivery companies like Plated, Blue Apron, Top Chefs, and Hello Fresh let someone else do the food shopping for you. Each box gets delivered right to your door and contains all the ingredients and instructions you need to prepare a nourishing, home-cooked meal. Although these services aren’t necessarily focused on weight loss, most are geared towards helping you eat healthy. Some companies, like Fresh Diet, are specifically targeting weight loss and even deliver pre-cooked food that only requires you to reheat the food. Most companies only provide dinner, but a few companies also offer breakfast, lunch, and snack options.
Added benefits. Only fresh, whole ingredients are provided by these companies: fruits, vegetables, meat, grains, dairy, nuts, and seeds—so you can practically eliminate processed and junk food from your diet. What’s more, food waste can be a big issue with grocery store shopping –think of those expired foods in your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. We often find ourselves throwing away food that we have purchased and ended up not using before it spoils. With meal-kits, you only receive the ingredients, in pre-measured amounts, that you will be using that meal. No food waste!
With food already scheduled for delivery, there’s more incentive to avoid eating out or ordering take-out meals. While convenient, these are often fatty and high in sodium, and they may contain ingredients of dubious quality. Another perk is that variety is assured with meal delivery companies, as you will likely not receive a repeat of the same meal for weeks. And some companies even offer access to nutritionists on staff to provide support and guidance toward your health goals. If you have diabetes, they may help you choose meals with the amount of carbohydrates appropriate specifically for you. You can also work with a registered dietitian nutritionist to help select the best options.
Efficacy. Meal planning kits can help you lose weight if you stick to the meal plan and don’t supplement with additional food. Most companies report that their dinner meals are generally 500-800 calories, and those companies providing meals for the entire day aim to keep the meals to about 1800 calories. Portion sizes are pre-determined for you, too, so the worry of eating too much is eliminated.
Drawbacks. There’s a certain comfort in having someone else tell you what to eat, but, on the other hand, it’s not always easy to have someone else telling you what to eat! Subscribing to a meal-kit delivery service means you are at the mercy of someone else’s decision as to tonight’s meal. If you or a family member has strong food preferences, some of the meals that arrive may not be to your liking. Gluten-free or fructose intolerant? Most companies do not have the flexibility to accommodate individual needs, but you do have the option to skip a specific meal or opt for another, provided you notify the company in time. If you have an erratic schedule, delivered meals might go unmade or uneaten, or, worse, no one will be home to receive the delivery—though most companies do package their foods in ice and guarantee freshness till the end of the day of delivery. While such packaging helps keep your delivery from spoiling, there can be a fair amount of food packaging waste, as every ingredient is individually packed. Recycling is a must.
Cost. Per person, each meal costs on average about $9 to $12, with more expensive ingredients occasionally upping the meal price. According to the USDA, it costs the average U.S. family of four (2 adults, 2 children) on a moderate-cost plan about $35/day for food. This estimate assumes that all meals and snacks are made at home. 1 If you dine out frequently and order take-out as well as cook at home, your costs are probably much more than the USDA’s estimate and may be more than the cost of food from the meal delivery companies.
Bottom-line Advice. Meal-kit delivery companies can help you lose weight if you keep to the dinner ingredients and portions that are provided and also eat a sensible breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack. If you are the kind of person that can be disciplined and stick to this type of program, you could shed some pounds by not eating highly-refined foods, high-calorie restaurant food, or large portions of your own homemade cooking. You can improve your odds for weight loss even more if you order all the meals and snacks for the day and eat nothing outside of the pre-determined menu. The best way to know if it will work for you is to test it out—many companies have low-cost trial kits. Give it a try, you might shed some pounds and expand your culinary repertoire in the process!