Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Best Healthy Meal Kits & Delivery (2024)

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Eating and cooking healthy meals at home is something I want to do in theory, and healthy meal kits and meal delivery services are one of the few ways I’ve been able to put this desire into practice. Here’s the thing: when left to my own devices, I tend to grocery shop like a deranged magpie searching for culinary trinkets. I’ll leave with a tote bag full of obscure condiments, heirloom grains, maybe a piece of achingly ripe seasonal produce, and no plans whatsoever to make a proper meal.

I’ve tried pulling out my favorite cookbooks and making meal plans at the beginning of the week, but I find that too much planning means I’ll feel a lack of the sense of adventure I need to get excited about eating later. I like variety and surprise, but I also require some measure of ease. Because as much as I want to believe that I’m going to find a way to spin a head of romesco into dinner gold, more often than not I just end up eating a random roasted vegetable as a 3 p.m. snack before ordering takeout for “real dinner.”

Meal kits and meal delivery services help to close these gaps in my eating habits. They ensure that I’ll eat a reasonable number of healthy meals each week, but also that I have wiggle room to hoard fun little snacks and to decide last minute to go out for noodle soup.The best healthy meal kits, in my opinion, are flexible and focused around high-quality ingredients and actually delicious food. In an effort to make sure I’m not getting all of my nutrients in the form of my favorite gummy vitamins, I’ve spent months searching for the best better-for-you options on the market. Here’s what I found.

I loved my experience with Hungryroot so much, I wrote an entire essay about it. If you can’t decide whether you want prepared meals or a meal kit, Hungryroot splits the difference by allowing you to have the best of both worlds. Rather than being based around a set number of meals per week, Hungryroot operates on a credits system. You can spend your weekly allotment of credits on any combination of meal kits, prepared meals, snacks, and pantry items. If you have decision fatigue, you can also take a quiz and let the brand make choices for you. I loved how easy it was to adapt Hungryroot to my schedule, which is always changing from one week to the next. But most importantly, the food was really good. I’ve remade the rainbow veggie and plant-based chorizo hummus bowl recipe I got with my first order several times, which is saying a lot for a meal kit. Because the plan is flexible, it also means you don’t have to commit to paying the same amount of money every week. It’s easy to skip, downgrade your credits, or add more if you know you want to cook less and have more prepped food in your fridge.

There’s no getting around the fact that Sakara is expensive, with the cheapest option coming in at around $400 a week. There’s a reason this is a celebrity-favorite option, because you need movie star-level money to live the Sakara lifestyle on a regular basis. That said, when I was testing Sakara, I felt like I was doing something both deeply indulgent and really good for me, which is kind of peak self-care. I was worried that the plant-based meals would leave me feeling physically hungry and emotionally starved for flavor, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I actually woke up excited to eat the breakfasts (as a sweet breakfast person, I was primed to love things like cashew-based muffins and fruity parfaits), and found that I wasn’t reaching for my normal second (and third) cup of coffee every afternoon. I had more energy than usual, ate way more vegetables, and yeah, my skin was kind of glowy. If money is no object, or if you want to treat yourself to an at-home wellness retreat, I think Sakara is worth it.

Daily Harvest is kind of the OG healthy meal delivery service. They started out as a DTC smoothie kit brand, and that’s still where they excel. Especially during the warmer months, I love having my freezer stocked with the brand’s little cardboard cups of perfectly-portioned smoothie ingredients. More often than I’d like to admit, it’s the difference between having a breakfast that contains vitamins and having a breakfast that is composed primarily of sugar, butter, and flour. There are enough flavors that you won’t get bored, and there are more hits than misses in this department. Daily Harvest also makes a lot of other stuff, like grain bowls, soups, pastas, and ice pops. This is where things start to get a little muddy. I would say I’ve liked approximately 50% of the non-smoothie items I’ve tried from the brand. If your primary goal is pulling a balanced, healthy meal out of your freezer and consuming it within five minutes of remembering to eat, you might not mind this at all. But I personally need my food to be delicious, otherwise I simply will not eat it. So I recommend Daily Harvest as a solid option for keeping healthy meals around the house, but know how and what you like to eat, and order accordingly.

When it comes to budget-friendly healthy meal delivery options, it’s hard to beat Thistle. Their pricing comes out to around $11 a meal, and you can choose as few as four meals a week. If you’re the kind of person who would normally spend upwards of $15 on a fast-casual salad and your primary concerns are cost and convenience, Thistle is a really good option. Their salads are large and filling, they offer a wide variety of both sweet and savory breakfast options, and you can opt for more substantial meals like enchiladas and tagines. All of their meals are dairy-free, gluten-free, and free from refined sugars, so health is definitely a focus here. And if you, like me, have an expensive green juice habit, you’ll love the fact that you can add on juices and elixirs to your order. But here’s the downside: Thistle’s meals aren’t the most flavorful. They’re about on par with that overpriced salad you’d find at a counter-service spot near your office, but cheaper and delivered to your home.



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