Are you a full time professional? A working parent? Longing to eat healthy but cannot manage to find the time? Are you finding yourself grabbing take-out more nights per week than not? Let’s face it, cooking and meal prep is a challenge. If a large part of your stress is simply not having enough hours in a day to ensure proper nutrition for your family, it might be time to consider meal prep services as an alternative to sacrificing your precious time and health.
1) Grocery Store Prepared Foods
While likely the least expensive option, foods prepared at the grocery stores such as grab and go bento bowls, roasted chickens, packaged side dishes, and a la carte prepared food options hold their own set of pros and cons. They are perfect when you are in a pinch as you can pick one up for an instant solution without calling ahead. There is no cooking involved and selections are usually excellent.
The downside is people have found them to be bland at times and they do not hold up well in the fridge and should be consumed immediately. Consider trying a supermarket prepared meals when you are in a pinch or not ready to commit to a meal kit service. Whole Foods Market offers a supermarket prepared food service that will even deliver through Instacart.
2) Personal Chefs & Nutritionist Coaches
While possibly the most expensive option, it is the most time saving. Personal chefs do everything! They plan the meals, shop for them, handle all of the prep and cooking, and best of all, they take care of the cleanup. Having the more intimate setting of cooking in your home makes it easier for any diet specifications or allergens to be accommodated. There is a large database called hireachef.com that offers a full guide to finding and choosing your own chef. If your budget can accommodate it, a personal chef is the way to go! Also, if you are wanting to learn more about nutrition and how to prepare nutritious meals when you have the time, nutrition coaches can help, too! Not only do they teach you healthy habits, some of them prepare meals for the family as well.
3) Meal Kit Services
A new trend that has been growing in popularity lately is the meal kits. Companies such as Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Plated, and Green Chef, take away the time consuming process of planning, shopping, and prepping items to be cooked. For a meal kit service you go online, select the plan you want which includes your weekly menu and which meals you want to include, and how many people it is for. You can choose options for certain diet needs. The downside is you still have to cook the meals, although learning to cook new things can be very beneficial in the long run. Check out a few of the options above for more information. Most companies offer a startup discount such as one free week or a monetary amount off of your first month.
4) Prepared Meal Delivery Services
While not customizable like a personal chef or a meal kit service, prepared meal delivery services do combine some of the better aspects of both. Companies such as the Foodery in Boston, MA and Factor 75 take the planning, shopping, and cooking away for you while introducing you to new things. Many meal delivery services do not require a subscription, merely ordering ahead by about a week. Food is delivered ready to heat and serve. If you are not quite sold on a personal chef and still do not want to spend the time cooking a meal, healthy meal delivery services might be the solution you are looking for.
There are so many different options to fit all time constrictions and budgets. Do not hesitate, consider trying one of the options above starting at 1-2 meals per week and see how greatly it reduces your stress. Play around with more than one by preparing meals yourself a few nights per week combined with a few nights of supermarket prepared foods and a few nights of meal delivery services. It may take a little trial and error to find what works best for you and your family, but the decision will alleviate the stress of meal planning 7 days per week.