Do Meal Prep Delivery Services Make Sense For Your Life? Find Out

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It seems like everywhere you look, there's a new business promising to make your busy life easier. Whether it be with voice-controlled devices in your home that can turn on your appliances on with a simple command or online services that allow you to grocery shop without setting foot in a store, there are more and more options available that can help you save time — and occasionally a few bucks — when it comes to dining. And for many of you, meal delivery service can seem like a shining possibility.

And the thought of having delicious, healthy meals delivered to your door without having to do much more than a few clicks on your keypad might seem like a dream, there are definitely some things to consider before you commit to shelling out the cash and giving one of these services a whirl. As Shiri Avnery, co-founder of buzzy new plant-based meal subscription service Thistle mentions, "A healthy diet [...] full of whole, primarily plant-based foods (nutrient-dense, fresh veggies and fruits, seeds, nuts, legumes, protein-rich whole grains) is one of the most important things you can do for yourself to improve your energy, focus, emotional wellbeing, and long-term health outcomes." That said, meal delivery may not be the only solution to changing your diet for the better — but it can certainly help some.

To find out if a service like Thistle is right for your lifestyle, read on for a list of things to factor in when deciding whether or not to take the plunge — complete with Avnery's expert opinion on the topic.

Time

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Many of those contemplating jumping on the meal delivery bandwagon are doing so because of their lack of free time to prepare healthy meals. "How much do you value — and what would you rather be doing with — the time normally allocated to research, planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, and cleaning?" Avnery suggests asking yourself.

"The work that goes into [...] eating healthier can be a huge burden in terms of researching the best methods and practices for healthy eating," she adds. For those who enjoy meal prep and are able to carve out the time, it might not be as useful to get meal deliveries, but if you're the type who can't seem to make cooking for yourself a practical reality, it could be a big help and time saver.

Nutrition

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There are a ton of meal delivery services out there nowadays, and having that variety allows you to narrow in on your nutritional needs — whatever they may be. While some companies are focused on the convenience factor, many are also geared on giving you the kind of healthy options you might otherwise not be as efficiently getting your hands on. If nutrition is a top concern for you, and you've been having a tough time making it a priority, services like Thistle, Green Chef, and Sun Basket can help do the dirty — er, rather clean — work for you. Look for a company that allows you to tailor your plan according to your needs or offers over-all healthy options that limit refined sugars and are abundant in fruits and veggies.

Convenience

How many times have you grabbed that less-than-healthy snack on the go just because you didn't have a better option handy? If that's you on a regular basis, you might benefit from the convenience of a delivery service, since it literally comes directly to wherever you are.

In fact, some services like Splendid Spoon provide vegan, gluten-free, and GMO-free smoothies, soups, and lunch bowls that are ready to eat and require no slicing, dicing, or prep in general. Yes, please.

Expense

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Budget is what stops a large percentage of people from trying meal service delivery — and that's understandable. But the extra cost can be for good reason. As Avnery explains, "Meal delivery services can appear expensive up front, but when you factor in the value of your saved time and stress, plus the fact that most Americans waste up to 40% of the food they purchase, they can really make sense."

For some, it might not be cost effective to pay for a service, especially if you think you can try to make healthy grocery shopping and meal prepping on your own a reality. But if you're grabbing takeout more often than you'd like to admit, some delivery options might actually save you money, "It's worth taking a hard look into takeout habits," says Avnery. "Meal services are almost always less expensive than the average takeout meal, and a lot of us don't realize how often we rely on this (less healthy, less convenient, more expensive) option to get through busy weeks."

Sustainability

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If you've got sustainability on the brain (And who doesn't these days?) that should be a major factor in your decision whether or not to invest in a meal delivery service. For one, it has been suggested that limiting meat consumption can be an incredibly sustainable step, and many of these services offer a ton of plant-based options. Avnery explains, "[...] moving to a plant-based diet is consistently ranked one of the most impactful changes you can make to help mitigate climate change and reduce your environmental footprint." Look for a company that opts for local, seasonal ingredients to further reduce the amount of natural resources used by the food industry.

Additionally, if you find you're often tossing out out unfinished food more often than not, meal services can help with waste by offering portioned-out meals, reducing food waste by 60% or more, according to the Thistle co-founder.