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10 meal services that actually deliver healthy foods


Photo: Green Chef
Photo: Green Chef
1/11

What’s for dinner? It’s a perennial question. For some, it’s an excuse to dig into the newest cookbooks or blogs for inspiration. But for those of us who hate grocery shopping, don’t feel comfortable with our cooking skills, or have zero time to plan (let alone cook!), the question causes a fair bit of anxiety and stress.

Luckily, more companies are entering the meal delivery business pioneered by Blue Apron (among others). From meal kits (complete with recipes and pre-portioned ingredients) to prepared meals and smoothie packs, companies want to make home-cooked, healthy meals convenient and easy. And they are tailored to nearly every diet under the sun, from Paleo to gluten-free to omnivores to vegans.

Not sure which meal delivery service is for you? Don’t worry.

We’ve got the details on 10 companies that deliver healthy meals (listed alphabetically).

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2/11

Chefd
Photo: Chef’d

1. Chef’d

Meal kits

For: The wannabe celebrity chef

Need-to-know: Chef’d is for all those time you’ve ever watched Top Chef and wished that you could eat what Padma Lakshmi was eating, too. The Los Angeles-based company has big-name chefs, nutritionists, and foodie gurus (from TV personality Robert Irvine to clean eating expert Keri Gassman) create a range of recipes. You just need to find a favorite, place your order, and you’ll receive all the pre-portioned ingredients you need (organic wherever possible) to get dinner on the table. And if phrases like “mince garlic” send you into panic mode, don’t worry: Chef’d has videos demonstrating cooking techniques on its website. Some recipes called for cooking techniques I haven’t dared try at home otherwise (poached fish anyone?). But thanks to the step-by-step directions, I plated a perfectly cooked piece of fish.

Healthy factor: Chef’d offers a range of recipes to meet your healthy, gluten-free, or Paleo needs, like the Mediterranean Citrus Poached Halibut from Top Chef alum Fabio Viviani or the Green Chili Turkey and Cilantro Rice Bowl from Chris and Heidi Powell of ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss. And, if you’re a Tone It Up Nutrition and Bikini Bundle member, you can sign up to receive weekly dinner meals, all approved by the Tone It Up nutrition team.

Delivery details: With Chef’d, you can choose your delivery date, and your meal will be delivered between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Cost: Two-serving meals range between $19 and $39. No subscription or minimums required. Shipping is free on orders over $40.

3/11

Freshly
Photo: Freshly

2. Freshly

Prepared meals

For: The time-crunched healthy entrepreneur

Need-to-know: Freshly promises healthy meals in two minutes or less—in other words, it’s your alternative to ordering Seamless on days when you’re too busy to even set the table (never mind cook). Your meals arrive at your door—not frozen, but fully cooked—so that all you have to do is reheat. Choose breakfast, lunch, or dinner from Freshly’s weekly menu, with Three Bean Ancho Turkey Chili and Denver Omelette among the customer favorites. And yes, they plan on expanding their menu throughout the year.

Healthy factor: All meals are high in protein, low in carbs, and contain zero gluten, refined sugars, or hormones. Curious about the nutritional profile of each dish? Just head to the website for ingredient lists and nutrition info. And to cut down on food waste, Freshly also donates extra meals to local shelters and farms.

Delivery details: Your meals are kept insulated in biodegradable, recycled denim—a stylish, eco-friendly alternative to styrofoam—and non-toxic, water soluble gel packs. Freshly ships to 17 states in the western half of the U.S. and plans to expand east later this year.

Cost: Choose six, nine, 12, or 21 meals per week. Meal plans start at $69 per week (for six meals) and go up to $229 per week for 21 meals, shipping included.

4/11

Photo: Green Blender
Photo: Green Blender

3. Green Blender

Smoothie kits

For: The smoothie obsessed

Need-to-know: Green Blender is here to help you break out of your smoothie rut. Each week the company sends you five seasonal smoothie recipes and all the pre-portioned ingredients you need to make two 12-ounce servings of each smoothie. Founder Jenna Tanenbaum finds inspiration for recipes everywhere, from cheesecake and mojitos to seemingly un-smoothie-fiable foods like salads. And perhaps most impressive, the company has yet to repeat a smoothie recipe.

Healthy factor: The smoothie kits are packed with organic, non-GMO produce and superfoods—including all-star ingredients like goji berries and camu camu that not everyone has access to at their local supermarket. Case in point: Subscribers recently received a mandarinquat (AKA a hybrid of a mandarin orange and a kumquat), which is said to taste a bit like a Sour Patch Kid.

Delivery details: Green Blender’s delivery area includes the entire Northeast, as well as parts of the Midwest and Southeast, and the company recently started shipping to Southern California and others areas on the West Coast.

Cost: There are several subscription options. Prices range from $39–$49 per box, depending on how many you purchase upfront.

5/11

Photo: Green Chef
Photo: Green Chef

4. Green Chef

Meal kits

For: The organic foodie

Need-to-know: If you care about where your veggies come from, meet Green Chef. It’s the first USDA-certified organic meal kit (which covers synthetic pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs). Choose from five different menu types—vegetarian, omnivore, carnivore, gluten-free, or Paleo—then your delivery date. Weekly menus are available online so you’ll know what’s available. Each box is jam-packed with all the fixings to make three meals for two people in less time than it takes to catch up on the most recent episode of Girls (think 20–35 minutes). Plus, you can add additional servings and change your menu preference with each delivery. And for those who like a nice neat fridge, the ingredients come color-coded.

Healthy factor: About 95 percent of Green Chef’s ingredients are organic, and they vet their suppliers to ensure they maintain ethical and sustainable practices. Meals all lean toward the good-for-you side of things, with entrees like Lemon-Dill Broiled Salmon, Herb-Roasted Tempeh, and Quinoa and Spinach Fritters recently dropped off with subscribers. A highlight: The Sweet Potato Noodle Bake. It was jam-packed with veggies and the smoky almond bread crumbs added just the right crunch on top.

Delivery details: Throughout the United States except Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington, and to limited areas in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Oregon. Packing material is recyclable and compostable.

Cost: It’s a subscription service, with meals ranging in price from $10.49 to $14.99 per person plus $9 shipping and handling per box. Each box contains three recipes for two people (six servings).

6/11

Photo: HelloFresh
Photo: HelloFresh

5. HelloFresh

Meal kits

For: The new cook

Need-to-know: Think of HelloFresh as the Food Network-approved cousin to Blue Apron and Plated (Jamie Oliver is a partner, creating one  recipe a week for subscribers). Straightforward, easy-to-follow, and also—and this is key—hard to mess up, the directions walk you through every step of preparing dishes like Mahi Mahi Piccata (which was surprisingly rich in flavor, considering how few ingredients it had). Their recipe cards even tell you how difficult each dish is to make, in case you’re still very much on the “How do you sauté?” end of the cooking spectrum. And for every HelloFresh box purchased, they’ll donate to the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.

Healthy factor: Their on-staff registered dietician evaluates every meal before it appears on the menu to make sure it’s balanced and healthy. Plus, they make nutrition labels available on their website, boxes, and recipe cards.

Delivery details: Not only does HelloFresh deliver nationally across the U.S., they deliver internationally too—to the UK, Germany, Austria, Australia, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Place your order by midnight on Wednesday to receive your box the following week (and there are daily shipping options).

Cost: Boxes start at $59 for a Veggie Box and $69 for the Classic Box, with three meals for two people. The Family Box starts at $79.95 for two meals for four people. It is a subscription service but you can change your box from week-to-week. Shipping is included.

7/11

Photo: PeachDish
Photo: PeachDish

6. PeachDish

Meal kits

For: The home cook looking for some Southern comfort

Need-to-know: Get the mint juleps ready, because every week PeachDish offers four Southern- and seasonally-inspired meals (typically two vegetarian options and two meat- or fish-based choices) delivered to members. You’ll get to learn about—not to mention cook with—menu mainstays of the South, like middlins (AKA broken rice that’s a bit like grits).

Healthy factor: This isn’t your grandmother’s biscuits and gravy. For example, PeachDish’s Smothered and Covered Chicken with Herb Grits and Celery Salad is a lightened up version of a southern favorite, with skinless chicken breasts pan-seared instead of dropped into a deep fryer. And the flavorful Pork and Gold Rice Middlins was like a Southern version of risotto, but without all the cheese. Ingredients are regionally and seasonally sourced and organic wherever possible. And nutritional facts for each meal are available online and on the recipe card.

Delivery details: Delivery is available across the continental United States and included with the purchase of your meals. And for a down-home touch, ingredients for each are packaged together in reusable organza bags.

Cost: For this membership-based service, a standard box, complete with two meals for two people, costs $50 (but they do offer discounts for ordering additional servings). There’s a minimum requirement of four servings per delivery and a max of eight.

8/11

Photo: Pete's Paleo
Photo: Pete’s Paleo

7. Pete’s Paleo

Prepared meals

For: The Paleo eater

Need-to-know: Maybe you can’t find high-quality, Paleo-friendly ingredients. Or you’ve had the same steak and roasted veggie combo on repeat for weeks. Or maybe you just can’t imagine cooking dinner after a crushing a WOD. Whatever it is, Pete’s Paleo will take care of you. The San Diego-based company plans, shops, cooks, and delivers meals from its weekly seasonal menu right to your door. Think Ethiopian Spiced Duck with Roasted Bell Peppers and Gold Beets and Braised Pork with Sweet Potato Hash and Braised Celery. All you have to do is reheat and serve (setting the table: optional).

Healthy factor: Since it’s Paleo, you know your meals will be full of grass-fed and pastured protein and in-season produce, as well as free of gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, and sweeteners. Plus, the delivery service has developed relationships with local suppliers and farmers from whom they source ingredients.

Delivery details: Pete’s Paleo delivers nationally and, if you’re a San Diego local, you can pick up your order at select locations. Meals are delivered weekly or bi-weekly. They arrive vacuum-sealed in BPS-free bags and stay cool thanks to ice packs.

Cost: Purchase a set of five, 10, or 14 meals, or subscribe for weekly deliveries and save. For example, a 10-meal pack costs $162, or $152 if you subscribe.

9/11

Purple Carrot
Photo: Aya Brackett

8. Purple Carrot

Meal kits

For: The busy vegan

Need-to-know: If you drool over the brightly colored veggies at your local farmers’ market, you’ll love Purple Carrot. Former New York Times columnist and cookbook author Mark Bittman teamed up with the vegan meal kit company to develop and curate your weekly menu of seasonal plant-based meals. (Think Mushroom Pho with Fresh Tofu Skins and North African Orzo Risotto with Raw Fennel Salad.) The week’s menu debuts every Friday and can be prepared in 45 minutes or less. In case you needed that extra push, it will finally convince you that going vegan is easy.

Healthy factor: Purple Carrot tracks down organic (whenever possible) and always non-GMO ingredients for the plant-based, whole food meals. When you open the box, you’re greeted by elegantly designed recipe cards, which provide directions, nutritional info, and a little background on each dish—including the region it comes from and the adjustments Bittman made to make the recipe plant- and weeknight dinner-friendly.

Delivery details: They deliver to 34 states throughout the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and West Coast. Meals are shipped on Mondays in boxes insulated with ice packs, so you don’t need to be home to accept delivery (expect to receive your box in one to two days). And yes, you can recycle the nontoxic packaging made from post-consumer waste.

Cost: $68 for three meals that feed up to two people, and $74 for two meals that feed up to four people—shipping included.

10/11

Sakara
Photo: Sakara

9. Sakara

Prepared meals

For: The healthy fashionista

Need-to-know: Sakara wants to help you fill your plate with good-for-you, plant-rich whole foods that, yes, are incredibly Instagrammable. The organic food service (which up until recently was only delivery to New York City) serves up creative salads jam packed with colorful veggies, trendy superfoods, and healthy grains, as well as unexpected sandwiches (like a red beet burger) on the seasonal weekly menu.

Healthy factor: The combination of plant-based protein, vegetables, and superfoods are designed to nourish you from the inside out. Meals are free of gluten, dairy, eggs, meal, and seafood, and ingredients are organic. And for those on the East Coast and Southern California, Sakara Life can accommodate up to three allergies for an additional fee.

Delivery details: Delivery is available across the continental US, and your food will be delivered in two or three deliveries per week.

Cost: You can now choose to “Taste It” (a one-time meal order for three or five days) or “Live It” (a weekly subscription of Sakara Life’s clean eats). Depending on whether you want just breakfast, lunch, or dinner, a combination of two, or all three, 3-day Taste It plans start at $80 and 5-day Taste It plans start at $125, plus delivery. Or subscribe for $69 a day and receive breakfast, lunch, and dinner five days a week.

11/11

Photo: Veestro
Photo: Veestro

10. Veestro

Prepared meals

For: The overscheduled plant-eater

Need-to-know: Veestro cooks up plant-based, whole food meals, freezes them, and then delivers their fully-cooked meals to your door. So: No washing, prepping, cooking, or cleaning up for you! It was created by a brother-sister duo who had a hard time eating healthy, given their over scheduled lives. (Sound familiar?) You’ll find entrees like Red Curry with Tofu and Veggies, Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce, and an Enchilada Casserole, along with salads, soups and desserts.

Healthy factor: All of Veestro’s meals are 100 percent plant-based and made with organic, non-GMO ingredients—and free of preservatives. While some foodies may turn up their noses at frozen food, the meals are frozen when fresh so they arrive ready to reheat. While we did find that the meals had to be reheated longer than the instructions indicate, you’ll still enjoy your meal relatively quickly and with minimal cleanup.

Delivery details: Veestro ships nationally except for Alaska and Hawaii. The one downside is Veestro’s packaging: It’s cumbersome to dispose of the styrofoam insulation and dry ice.

Cost: A la carte meals range between $5.99 and $11.99 for salads, soups, entrees, and desserts. Veestro also offers a $99 starter pack (12 meals, one juice, and shipping included) and meal packs. Choose a gluten-free pack for $199 (24 meals and two desserts) or the entry-level 21-day Kickstart plan for $189 (21 meals and six juices, replacing one meal per day with Veestro). There is a minimum order of $35. Shipping is free on orders of $199 and above.