The 5 Biggest Pros and Cons of Meal Delivery Services

February 21, 2015

The 5 Biggest Pros and Cons of Meal Delivery Services

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What if I told you that, every day, you could wake up to perfectly portioned, mouthwatering foodstuffs ready for consumption after only a few minutes in the microwave?

You didn’t cook these meals yourself, you didn’t buy the ingredients—in fact, you didn’t think about these meals at all. Yet, here they are: meats roasted, stuffed, and topped with crumbles of artisan-paleo whatever; fruits and veggies teeming with antioxidants to brighten your eyes and sharpen your mind.

Meal delivery services are one of the hottest new ventures in the health and nutrition realm, and if you choose to use such a service, the aforementioned bliss of hassle-free health can be yours.

It’s not too good to be true, and yes, it’s expensive, but can a dollar amount really trump the economic and emotional costs of being unhealthy? It’s a philosophical debate worth having. As a long-term customer of a local meal delivery service, I can tell you that it has simplified my life in a lot of ways, but it’s definitely not for everyone.

If you’ve been considering it for a while, then this guide is for you. Check out the high points and the drawbacks of subscribing to a meal delivery service in your area.

Pros

1. It’s beyond convenient

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Waking up to see what the food elves have left on your doorstep is pure magic. “And good morning to you, soft-sided cooler filled with freshly prepared, delicious treats.” This is pretty much what you are going to think to yourself when you receive your daily delivery, verbatim.

You have more time to work, play, sleep, party, or whatever you fancy without having to trek to the grocery store, plot out the ways in which you will attempt to improve your eating habits this week, and prep breakfast, lunch and dinner without setting off the smoke alarm. In short, it’s convenient, and this may be the meal delivery service’s strongest asset.

2. Your food is exceedingly healthy

I realize I haven’t made my point yet, because meal delivery isn’t the only convenient option out there. Lean Cuisine is convenient; cup o’ soup is convenient; broke-ass college kids everywhere know for a fact that ramen is convenient, but these sad excuses for sustenance are all missing a very obvious component: healthfulness.

Every delivered meal I’ve ever eaten has had nutritional stats so impeccable they made me question why entrepreneurs didn’t jump on this concept 15 years ago. It does help that most services allow you to customize your menu according to diet, so if you need extra protein or are a strict vegan with a lactose allergy, in most cases you will be getting the right type of nutrients for your goals.

3. Minimal cleanup

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You know what’s really glorious? Not washing 15 different bowls because raw chicken touched one and eggs were in the other. Your meals are delivered in adorable Chinese takeout-sized containers, which you are free to dispose of by any method you prefer. Personally, I save a bunch and dump the others until I’ve accidentally dumped too many then I start saving again. I haven’t made a Tupperware purchase in over a year.

 

4. Special diet options exist

As I mentioned before, the options are wide open when it comes to your diet. In my experience with one particular company, they provide options for vegans, vegetarians, organic-only eaters, dairy-free devotees, those who prefer paleo, and even those who are on the HCG diet.

Remember to disclose any allergies when you choose your menu so you don’t show up to work covered in hives, swatting hallucinatory bats away with your balloon hands.

5. More variety than you’d give yourself

The best laid plans, well, you know what happens. It doesn’t matter how many Sundays you’ve spent on the produce aisle, clutching your long, ambitious list of cruciferous vegetables as you gaze at your options in wonderment, you’re probably going to buy the bag of frozen broccoli and be done with it. Why? Because, unfortunately, it takes more time and energy than we have to truly “eat the rainbow,” as we are often told we should.

The people who made your meals selected a colorful array of seasonal fruits and vegetables just for you, so you wouldn’t have to. You can remain blissfully ignorant as to how one properly dices a pepper and you never need to stress about asking whether the store carries “jicama,” because even I know that you don’t know how to pronounce that word.

Cons

1. Cost

Having someone plan, prepare, package, and deliver your high-quality meals is going to cost you. It’s not cheap, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Depending on your menu choice and your caloric needs, you could be spending anywhere from $50 – $200/ week. That is a very large window, and again, you have choices as to the number of meals you get each day, the amount of calories in each meal, and how many days per week you receive meals.

Whichever service you choose, be sure to ask about all fees associated with the cost you are quoted, which may include a delivery fee and fees for additional protein, snacks, etc. Also, don’t be shy to ask about breaks for referring other customers, or whether they are running any promotions. Gotta hustle when you can.

2. Little control over what you get

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Because the meals are made on such a large scale, you can’t really pick and choose what you want to eat each and every day. You do not have a short-order cook at your disposal, and you really have to submit yourself to the options they provide.

I know some people who tell me that they don’t like vegetables so paying for meals comprised of items they won’t want would be a problem. To those people I say, grow the hell up and eat your greens, because health isn’t always about fun, it’s about giving your body what it needs to feel and look good.

3. You may get burnt out on certain items

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Oh, hey, heyyy carrots, lovely to see you again. And what up sweet potatoes, it’s been a hot minute since I… oh, nope, had you for dinner last night.

Get ready to enjoy a shit-ton of spaghetti squash, broccoli, and shredded cabbage, because those veggies are cheap and versatile. As mentioned in the previous “con,” you have to get used to the idea that you are at the prepper’s mercy, and they are going to defer to the cheaper, seasonal options. Of course, a repetitive veggie is better than no veggie at all, so this isn’t a major point of contention.

4. Your order might get screwed up

It’s only happened twice in two years, but when your day’s order isn’t delivered on time or you are delivered the wrong food, you’d better have a nutritional backup plan. I have to stress that I would barely call this a drawback because it’s more like a fluke, but it is important to keep in mind that you are relying on someone else to get you what you need, and the potential for a mix-up does exist.

5. No more flexing of your culinary muscles

You may think not having to prep your own meals is a godsend, but take it from a foodie: I miss cooking. The pride that comes from concocting a beautiful or complicated dish goes out the window when your food is made by another person.

I used to love talking recipes and favorite types of cuisine with friends, but now I don’t have much to add to the conversation…

Weighing Your Options

Maybe it’s for you, maybe you need to learn more. My advice: try a meal delivery service for a set window of time and check in with yourself about whether you think it was worth it.

Ask yourself questions like, am I getting closer to my fitness goals? Do I feel less stressed? Do I have more time to do the things I love? Base your choice on the answers to those questions and you won’t regret it, whatever you decide! 




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