Healthy Living

3 tips for choosing a meal kit delivery service – and determining if it’s right for you

Eat better… Spend more time with family…

These items are among the most common New Year’s resolutions. Even for those of us who’ve found success with finding balance and what works for us, it’s easy to get swept up in all of the talk of self-improvement.

In this season of reflection and looking ahead, you may be thinking not only about how you eat but also about how you prepare and enjoy meals. One method that has been increasing in popularity is subscribing to a meal kit delivery service. Many explore these for the convenience they bring by removing the meal planning, grocery shopping and sometimes even meal preparation steps.

But have you considered the following benefits? Meal kit delivery services also do the following:

  • Help with portion control and reduce food waste and the need for keeping a stocked pantry of items you’ll never use again, as the service only sends the amount of ingredients needed to make the meal for your pre-selected number of people.
  • Push us to branch out with our tastes and culinary skills, because the investment is minimal. The tasty result often motivates us to continue to be more adventurous in our meal and ingredient selection!
  • Help with building in quality time with our families. Studies say that spending time with family over a meal is good and healthy. Many services offer four-person meals.

However, we know that, with benefits (especially convenience) come unintended consequences – primarily on our pocketbooks and on our health. That’s why Nicole Moore, a registered dietitian with Augusta University Center for Obesity and Metabolism located at Augusta University Digestive Health Center, is sharing three tips for choosing a meal kit delivery service – and determining if it’s right for you.

The 3 tips

  1. Consider your personal needs. For instance, think about the following:
  • The amount of time you have to prepare a meal.
  • Your skill level in the kitchen.
  • The kitchen tools you have access to and feel most comfortable using. Some services’ websites list what you’ll need so you can assess what’s best for you.
  • Your financial situation and how and if a meal kit delivery service fits into your food budget.
  • Your health goals and dietary restrictions. Many services offer food that is high in fat and sodium. Some services cater to those who have certain health restrictions by offering fit/low-calorie, gluten-free and vegetarian options. Also, Sun Basket and Green Chef offer the full nutrition facts before signing up. However, Blue Apron only posts estimated calories on its website visible to non-subscribers, which doesn’t give the full nutrition picture.

“Maybe you don’t necessarily need to lose weight, but you need to watch your blood pressure,” Moore said. “If you’re not savvy enough to tweak the recipe to your needs by reducing sodium, then you may be putting yourself at risk.”

Moore shares a silver lining for those who enjoy adding salt to their food.

“If you’re really stripping down processed foods in your diet to fresh foods that are naturally lower in salt and otherwise healthy, then you may be able to get away with adding a little salt when you cook,” Moore said. “Salt can highlight other flavors and bring them out, which can promote you to eat healthier foods more often.”

  1. Make sure you’re in control. You can do so in the following ways:
  • Check that you can customize your plan according to your eating preferences.
  • Make sure you can view nutrition facts for each meal.
  • Make sure it’s trackable.
  1. Monitor and reassess. We do this constantly in other areas of our lives like our jobs and relationships, so why not do this with our eating habits? Ask yourself:
  • Is it working for me?
  • Am I enjoying what I’m eating?
  • Is this meeting my dietary needs?
  • Is this time-efficient and cost-effective so I can keep doing this without throwing other areas of my life out of balance?

Trying to lose weight in 2017? We’re here to help.

To learn about our weight-loss services and providers, call 706-446-4887, or visit augustahealth.org/weightloss.

About the author

Augusta University Health

Augusta University Health

Based in Augusta, Georgia, Augusta University Health is a world-class health care network, offering the most comprehensive primary, specialty and subspecialty care in the region. Augusta University Health provides skilled, compassionate care to its patients, conducts leading-edge clinical research and fosters the medical education and training of tomorrow’s health care practitioners. Augusta University Health is a not-for-profit corporation that manages the clinical operations associated with Augusta University.

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