A RDN's Review of Meal Delivery Services

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A RDN's Review of Meal Delivery Services

Posted on 9th Aug 2018

By: Sydney Bishop, RDN, LDN

Meal kit delivery services have become a popular concept across the nation over the past few years. Individuals are opting to make more home-cooked meals given the ease and likelihood of having leftovers for the next day. Couples are scheduling “stay-at-home date nights” for the pleasure of cooking meals together. Busy families are eating fresh while also saving both time and money because meal kits are shipped to your door, can be prepared in under 30 minutes and do not require planning ahead or shopping for ingredients.

As a Registered Dietitian, I wanted to understand the appeal, so I investigated for myself.

The Research:

To begin, I researched customer reviews of multiple meal kit companies. I found a consensus that Sun Basket would be the best option for my meal kit experiment, given that is viewed as the “healthiest” meal kit delivery service available in today’s market. So, I ordered three meals from Sun Basket. While meal kit delivery services do not typically release the nutritional information of their recipes until after you register for their service, Sun Basket uses seasonal, organic produce to create recipes, so I trusted what I was getting myself into. Sun Basket offers a variety of meal plans such as Gluten-Free, Paleo, Lean & Clean, Vegetarian, Mediterranean, Vegan, Pescatarian, Diabetes-Friendly and Quick & Easy. If a client were to ask me which meal kit service would work well with dietary restrictions and nutrition-related chronic diseases, I would recommend Sun Basket.

The Experience:

The three meals were supposed to be delivered on a Monday but did not arrive until Tuesday afternoon. The pre-measured ingredients came in three insulated brown paper bags with the names of each recipe on the front. All contents of the package required refrigeration. The first meal I prepared was Steak with Bagna Cauda Anchovy Sauce, Broccoli and Radishes. Sun Basked does not send a physical copy of their recipes, so I had to refer to the directions on my computer. Total preparation took approximately 30 minutes and the only ingredients that were not provided were salt, pepper and butter.

The nutritional information:

Calories (kcal)760
Protein (g)55
Fiber (g)5
Total Fat (g)54
Monounsaturated Fat (g)28
Polyunsaturated Fat (g)4.5
Saturated Fat (g)15
Cholesterol (mg)175
Sodium (mg)710
Carbohydrate (g)22
Total Sugar (g)11
Added Sugar (g) 0

Overall, the taste and quality of the recipe was excellent. The entree was 100% grass-fed beef and the produce was very fresh, compared to a local grocery store. I prepared jasmine rice to compliment the meat and vegetables, which yielded more than two portions and cut down the overall fat, sodium and caloric content per serving. Using the meal-kit delivery service was a painless and enjoyable process that produced a unique, delicious and quick meal.

Is Sun Basket (or any meal delivery service) a healthy option?

Using a meal delivery service could be considered a healthy choice, especially if you do not know how to cook or need help preparing meals at home. Unlike most take-out options, Sun Basket uses fresh ingredients and creates recipes that reflect healthy eating practices. In addition, learning to cook and knowing where your food is coming from (your kitchen!) are great habits to practice on a regular basis. The meal was something I would not typically prepare in my home, so it was nice to have the opportunity to try something different. One drawback of this process was that the steak recipe was not as “healthy” as I expected. The nutritional information revealed that each serving contains 54 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat and 710 mg of sodium, which is higher than I'd like my meals to be. The amount of saturated fat and sodium in this recipe would make this an unhealthy option for those with heart disease. While it was a low carb, high protein option, it should only be incorporated into your diet every now and then when balanced with other, healthier meals.

Is using a meal kit delivery service affordable?

Sun Basket offers customers two menu options to select from: A Classic order and a Family order. Rates for the Classic Menu begin at $11.99 per serving, but you receive three recipes of your choice. Recipe serving sizes range from 2 to 4 portions, so the entire order for three meals falls around $71.94. If you select the Family Menu, you have the option of purchasing either two, three or four meals per week. There are 4 servings in this order and each serving on the Family Menu starts at $10.99, totalling $87.92 per week.

Some families could spend the same amount of money on one Sun Basket order as they do on groceries for the week, meaning Sun Basket is not an inexpensive option. On the other hand, Sun Basket and other similar companies could help some families that choose to eat out frequently save money. Depending on budget and lifestyle, Sun Basket could be an affordable option for individuals, couples and families.

Would I recommend meal kits to clients?

I would not encourage a client to purchase meal kits every week, but it is fun to switch things up every now and again. Using these services may provide you with the opportunity to try new foods, especially vegetables, that you would not normally consider buying from the store. It can save you both time and money at the grocery store, giving you more opportunities to exercise, spend time with friends and family and participate in more activities that you enjoy. Using these services can also help improve your cooking skills, which is a great asset to your health and wellness. Overall, I believe there are benefits to using meal kits to supplement your diet as you work towards living a healthier lifestyle.


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