Meal Delivery is the Healthier Takeout: How to Never Grocery Shop Again in 2017

meal delivery
iStock/Milkos

This is the final part of our three-part series examining how to reduce your dependence on grocery shopping. In this post, discover the wonderful world of meal delivery services. When you’re short on time, these ready-to-serve meals are the answer. (Don’t miss part one, all about meal kits, and part two, all about online grocery shopping.)

There are tons of resources online for people who need to get dinner on the table in a hurry, but what if even thirty minutes is too long to spend in the kitchen? Whether you’re a new mom without the time (or extra hands) to cook, mobility challenged, or just need a break from cooking without the expense of takeout, choosing a healthy meal delivery service could be an option (and it’s also a great gift idea for someone older or new parents).

Meal delivery varies from popular meal kits. With meal kits, you still do the cooking, but with meal delivery, the food comes prepared for you–yes, like take out, but often with a more from-scratch home-cooked distinction.

But not all meal delivery services are created alike. Here are seven that we think you should keep your eye on.

spinach ravioli
iStock/from_my_point_of_view

1. Top Chef Meals

Top Chef Meals specializes in made-to-order meals free of preservatives, trans fats, and chemicals cooked fresh and flash frozen the night before shipping. This meal delivery company prides itself on customizable meals that can be changed up depending on allergies and preferences, and unlike many other services, Top Chef does not require a subscription, which means that you can order as many or as few meals as you like, as often as you like.

Top Chef offers more than 60 entrées with nearly 40 sides that customers can mix and match to create their perfect meal. The company adds about two new entrées a month to its offerings, including one vegetarian dish, though vegetarians looking for more variety can also customize a meal by selecting three sides.

Special diet packages like low cholesterol, diabetic, and paleo are also available.

Where?

Top Chef Meals ships to Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin

How Much?

Meals start at $7.25 per plate (entrée plus two sides); $50 minimum to order; delivery free or discounted with $100 order

Sample Meals

Eggplant Rollatini with Marinara Sauce and Shaved Parmesan
Spinach and Garlic Ravioli Alfredo
Chicken Cordon Bleu

pork chops with lemon and rosemary
iStock/anandaBGD

2. Magic Kitchen

Magic Kitchen got its start in 2005, delivering meals to families and seniors in northern California who were unable to leave home to shop.

“At that time, it was difficult to find meals that would be healthy and cost-effective,” explains CEO Greg Miller.

Today, the company ships its meals nationwide, with a healthy menu updated twice a year featuring easy-to-prepare meals; only a few, like the chicken pot pie, need anything more complicated than a microwave to heat and serve.

Quality ingredients are a priority, and Miller explains that Magic Kitchen sources organic and hormone-free whenever possible.

The bulk of this company’s business comes from special “complete meals” packages tailor-designed to be compliant with the needs of diabetic or gluten-free customers or those trying to cut back on sodium or lose weight, though customers can also order à la carte.

Where?

Meal Kitchen ships to all 50 states.

How Much?

Starts at $9.99 for two servings; shipping starts at $18

Sample Meals

Baby Clams with Linguini Marinara
Lemon Rosemary Pork
Orzo and Spinach with Caponata Sauce

lasagna
iStock/nicolesy

3. BistroMD

BistroMD is a meal delivery service designed Dr. Caroline J. Cederquist and her husband, “the Foodie,” Ed Cederquist. Together, they have created a meal program as healthy as it is delicious, with the perfect combination of lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats in each meal for sustainable weight loss.

BistroMD offers tailored programs for men and women, as well as gluten-free, diabetic, and menopause programs. Each weekly menu is designed by the on-staff Registered Dietitian, with indications of which meal to eat on which day to ensure that daily nutrient targets are met, though customers can mix and match meals from the 150 on offer and even order à la carte.

BistroMD is best for singles or couples: meals are served in single-serve, recyclable, BPA-free trays, and discounts are available for couples ordering two menus to one household.

Where?

BistroMD ships to all 50 states.

How Much?

Starts at $134.96 for the full program (three meals, seven days); five-day and lunch-and-dinner only programs available; $19.99 shipping in the continental U.S.

Sample Meals

Lasagna with Garden Marinara
Hickory Smoked BBQ Beef with Yukon Gold Potatoes
Roasted Corn and Scallop Chowder

turkey burger
iStock/I_rinka

4. Personal Trainer Food

Personal Trainer Food is an affordable weight loss meal delivery option, developed with the mission of teaching people to “get back to the basics of eating well.” Whole, healthy foods take center stage, with minimal sugar and processed ingredients.

“Our foods are selected to keep blood sugar levels stable so your body can burn fat,” explains sales director Jessica Drahem. “Most people see noticeable results within one to two weeks.”

Personal Trainer Food aims to be a transitional service that will eventually teach people to cook and eat balanced meals on their own. For this reason, the menu includes meals that could easily be found in a restaurant or prepared at home. Weight Loss Coaches are always available to help customers make choices from options like breakfast omelets or egg patties, or lunch and dinner proteins (mostly chicken and a bit of beef) with a variety of side veggie blends.

Where?

Personal Trainer Food ships to all 50 states.

How Much?

Starts at $319 for a month’s worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners (twenty-eight days); free shipping.

Sample Meals

Butter Roasted Chicken Breast
Apple and Gouda Juicy Sausage
Garden Turkey Burger

steak diane
Image care of Munchery

5. Munchery

Munchery offers both simple meal kits and chef-crafted, ready-to-eat meal delivery options.

New items are added to the menu on a daily basis, with tons of variety and frequent updates and changes, and special attention is paid to ingredients, with many coming from organic and local sources.

“We source as much as possible from the best local food vendors,” explains James Beriker, Munchery CEO. “Our chefs and culinary teams are dialed into their respective local ecosystems, and we are always evaluating new sources of fresh, natural ingredients.”

Munchery also offers transparency to customers, with complete ingredients lists and nutritional data, as well as easy modification for dietary needs and restrictions like allergies or intolerances to gluten, dairy, nuts, or eggs.

Where?

Munchery currently provides same-day delivery to San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, Sacramento, Portland, San Diego, and Los Angeles metropolitan areas and scheduled delivery to Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

How Much?

Starts at $8.95 per meal for ready-to-eat dinners; kids’ meals are between $4 and $6; shipping subscriptions start at $51.95 (two meals, two plates each); free shipping

Sample Meals

Shrimp Fra Diavolo and Linguine
Mediterranean Chicken Bowl
Steak Diane

mushroom risotto
iStock/rjgrant

6. Veestro

Veestro is a family-run plant-based frozen food company based in Los Angeles, founded by brother and sister team, Monica Klausner and Mark Fachler, who were inspired by their own struggles to find the time to prepare healthy, plant-based meals to create the business.

While dishes are prepared in an industrial kitchen in Los Angeles, the fact that this company steers clears of preservatives and opts for fresh, local, non-GMO produce from California makes them nearly as close to homemade as you can get.

Veestro offers several different meal packages and options, including a 12-meal starter pack, Meatless Monday plan, gluten-free and high protein packages, and even meals designed for weight loss. Customers can also add half blended half cold-pressed juices to their orders.

Where?

Veestro ships to all 50 states.

How Much?

Starts at $10.29 per meal; free shipping for orders over $199.

Sample Meals

Red Curry with Tofu
Enchilada Casserole
Mushroom Risotto

vegan stew
iStock/SilviaJansen

7. 22 Days Nutrition

This plant-based meal delivery company gets its name from the theory (backed by psychologists) that says that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. For vegan founder Marco Borges, that habit is learning to eat a healthful, plant-based diet.

Program meals are intended to be nutrition-packed options ideal for active people. All meals are soy-free, gluten-free, and made with 100 percent organic ingredients, with a frequently changing roster of internationally-inspired dishes.

Unlike many other meal delivery services, 22 Days Nutrition delivers fresh meals that can either be frozen or heated and eaten right away. Both à la carte and weekly meal plans are available, with five, seven, or 22 day options that can include just lunch and dinner or breakfast too.

Where?

22 Days Nutrition delivers everywhere in the continental U.S.

How Much?

Starts at $9.50 a meal for the 22 day plan; $120 flat-rate shipping.

Sample Meals

Sesame Butternut Squash Rice
Shiitake Mushroom Yellow Curry
Lebanese Lentils with Spiced Cabbage

Related on Organic Authority
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Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.