Time is money—quite literally. For working individuals, parents, and caregivers, especially, it seems like there is never enough time in the day. So what are some ways to actually get some of that time back? Let’s take a look at something you have to make time for—eating.
Not only do we need food to survive, but it can also help with our energy and productivity. Unfortunately, many Americans struggle to eat nutritious meals, and having limited time makes this feat seem even more difficult.
Fast food and takeout seem like the easiest option, days become weeks, and weeks become years. Before you know it, you may not look or feel like you want to, and better yet, you won’t know how you ended up here.
Healthier Alternatives to Fast Food or Takeout
It’s not all doom and gloom—if you’re looking to improve how you feel and start focusing on your health, turning to meal delivery or meal kits to outsource your nutrition could be a good option.
The question is, which service is right for you? Let's take a closer look at two popular alternatives to traditional grocery meal prep.
Meal Prep Delivery
Meal prep delivery is precisely what it sounds like, ready-made meals delivered to your door. All you have to do here is heat and eat.
With this type of service, the quality of ingredients, nutrition, and sustainability practices will vary, so it’s important to look into your purchasing options to determine which company best aligns with your food preferences, lifestyle, and goals.
The positives and negatives of meal delivery will vary from company to company but let's take a look at some general commonalities.
Save The Most Time
If you’re extremely busy and want to spend as little time as possible on cooking, meal delivery is going to be a great option for you. This will save you the most time. Not only are you eliminating time spent grocery shopping, but you also don’t need to prep or clean any dishes—aside from a fork.
This could be 8+ hours you’re getting back in your week. Imagine all the things you could get done—or the time you could actually spend on what you want (self-care).
Focus on Nutrition
Some (not all) meal delivery is more focused on creating nutritionally balanced meals as this is made to replace traditional “meal prep.”
With meal prep delivery like Trifecta, the primary focus is balanced nutrition. With dietitian-approved meal plans, meals contain a balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Consuming these macronutrients in appropriate portions is a common approach to improving fitness and achieving weight loss and body composition changes.
Meal Delivery often has options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in addition to a rotating menu that keeps things interesting. This helps to prevent diet fatigue that commonly happens with meal prep i.e. when you’re eating the same things over and over again.
In addition, eating a varied diet is one of the best ways you can prevent gaps in your diet and avoid nutrient deficiencies.
Meal delivery usually has different diet plans to suit your dietary preferences and needs, so whether you want to simply eat clean, need to eat dairy-free, gluten-free, Paleo, Whole30, try Keto, or shift towards more plant-based eating with vegan or vegetarian, there’s something for everyone.
Get matched with the perfect meal plan for you:
Meal delivery eliminates steps in the supply chain, cutting down from 5 to 3 steps. It goes straight from farmers to preparation, then to you. Some companies utilize eco-friendly packaging that is either biodegradable or recyclable.
You also are saving energy by not driving to and from the grocery store, often multiple times a week, and reducing your food waste.
Most options in meal delivery are single servings. This can be seen as both a positive and a negative. While many are looking for more control with their portion sizes, this option may not work as well with families.
Some parents choose to eat something different from their children—which could turn this into a positive, saving you from cooking two meals.
Another option that some meal deliveries may offer is a Meal Prep option which provides fully cooked proteins, carbohydrates, and veggies ready to assemble and create meals. This is most suitable for those with increased nutritional needs or those aiming to feed a family.
Meal delivery has everything already prepared and portion for you, which means you’re paying for what you get. The cost may be slightly higher in exchange for saving you more time and energy.
Meal Kit Delivery
Meal kits differ from meal delivery in that they deliver raw ingredients and a recipe with instructions to follow instead of ready-to-eat meals. With these kits, you still need to chop, cook, and portion, not to mention clean up from these steps.
Different Serving Sizes
Meal kits are often offered in different serving sizes, most commonly for 2 or 4 people. This may be better suited for those that are wanting to cook one meal and enjoy it with their family. However, if your family is larger than 4, or you have someone in your household who has specific macro goals, this may not be suitable for you.
Reduced Food Waste
This is true for both meal delivery and meal kits. Food waste is a major problem in the US, the USDA estimates that 30-40% of the food supply is wasted. This can be attributed to spoilage and damage (molds, bacteria, pests, etc.) during production and supply, as well as consumer waste when more food is purchased than can be eaten prior to spoilage.
Still Have To Cook
They send you the ingredients in their raw form. This means you still have to prep, cook, and clean up the mess you’ve created once you’re done. While you save time on grocery shopping and having your meal planned, you don’t save on much else.
Nutrition Isn’t The Focus
While meal kits can be modest time savers, their number one priority isn’t around nutrition, quality ingredients, and creating balanced meals. This isn’t to say that meal kits don’t include nutritious foods, but they often don’t have as strict of guidelines around macronutrient distribution in meals.
Not Portion Controlled
With meal kits, you have to portion things yourself which sounds easy in theory but is not always to do so in practice. You can be eating all the right things, but if it’s not in the right portions, aka you’re exceeding your calorie needs, you won’t be feeling your best.
Not As Sustainable
With meal kits, you get individual ingredients and spices—each wrapped individually, resulting in excess plastic and waste. While you are likely saving on food waste, most of the packaging isn’t super eco-friendly.
Which option is best for you?
The answer to this question is ultimately answered by defining your goals.
If your goals are to improve your nutrition, lose weight, and save the most time, then meal delivery is for you.
Hear from real people how Meal Delivery helped transform their lives.
If your goal is to save a little time, reduce the stress of deciding what to cook for dinner, and feed your family (or yourself + leftovers) with a few new recipes a week—and nutrition isn’t your primary focus – then a meal kit or meal prep delivery option may be better suited for you.