There is truly nothing to fear when it comes to changing your diet, if you’re open to the help of a little technology. Changing one’s diet can be extremely stressful for many. Particularly when they don’t feel that they have control over it, like when they’ve been told they must follow a specific protocol to help manage a chronic disease, or they resent the disruption to their normal routine. Admittedly, the initial changes can be an adjustment but thankfully, many enterprising chefs have decided you can take the guesswork out of your new protocol by letting them do the cooking at your place, (sort of). Meal and meal kit delivery is becoming increasingly popular among many. From time-crunched students, to busy families, to people needing to keep strict dietary compliance, these services are brilliant!
These types of services are extremely convenient and can be separated into two basic categories (although a few have hybrids of both). Some will prepare entire meals that are ready to be reheated and eaten, others, will deliver the fresh, prepped ingredients with detailed cooking instructions and you prepare the rest of the meal yourself. We don’t recommend one type of service over the other, we think the best way to consider them, beside which may fit a specific protocol best, is how much do you enjoy, or how much time do you have, to devote to being in the kitchen? Is part of using a delivery service attractive to you because you don’t have to cook? That’s completely fair and is exactly why these services exist in the first place! There’s also absolutely nothing to say you can’t use more than one service, either. Regardless of where your meals may be coming from, we all eat so many times a day, so many times a week, right? For someone who loves to cook, but only when they have time on the weekends, that may mean using one service a few days a week and another for the weeknights when they’re in a hurry, which provides fully prepared meals that save time. That may sound like a hassle, but with easy to use mobile apps and desktop sites to work with, it can certainly still be easier than pouring through cookbooks and websites and trying untested recipes, then slogging to the dreaded grocery store to collect everything you need.
After looking over so many of the menus offered by the companies we’ll talk about below, we can say their prices are all fair for their offerings. If you’re the type of cook who ends up with a lot of waste at the end of the week, we can even go as far as saying they can be money savers, too. As always, we are not affiliated with any of these services and aim only to help our patients and readers on their journey with dietary change, and helping them make informed decisions while they learn about new strategies for eating. Improving their quality of life while we’re at it never hurts, either.
We used several broad criteria when selecting which of these services to recommend. To begin, we looked for companies that support specific dietary protocols such as: Paleo, Keto, Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan and more. Then, of course, we checked pricing, because that’s just logic taking over. We think it makes the most sense to judge each of them for their own value, instead of judging them against each other, because in many cases it can be like comparing apples to oranges. Companies that offer organic, antibiotic, hormone and GMO-free foods were especially attractive to us for a myriad of health and environmental reasons. And finally, if they aim to provide local and/or sustainable meat and produce, that was all the better!
Without further ado.
SunBasket.com – This service met many of our criteria handedly. In terms of the protocols they support, there are many, including: Paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian, and a proprietary menu they call Lean+Clean (which we have not reviewed specifically and cannot recommend for any one particular protocol. That is not to say that we do not encourage you to do your own research if you are interested, please do!). They use sustainable and organic foods in their recipes and are committed to using only hormone and antibiotic free meats. Their seafood is always recommended as Best Choice or Good Alternative by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program. Their recipes are designed to be on the table in 30 minutes, so they’re great for weeknights. Orders come delivered weekly in 100% recyclable packing materials. With their Classic Menu they offer 18 menus to choose from at $6.16 per serving. Family menus have 6 menus to choose from at $6.62 per serving.
Plated.com – We will begin with the caveat that they do not offer protocol specific menus, rather, “Globally inspired, Chef designed menus.” That said, they offer so many mix and match dishes that depending upon the dish and protocol, this service might still very well work for you. They offer 20 recipes to choose from and even a “rate and review” option that helps curate future menus for you. That was something we only noticed Plated doing and believe it’s another reason to check them out, even if they may not list your specific protocol, they may still very well have dishes that fit all your criteria. They are committed to sustainable fishing, and serve only hormone and antibiotic free meats, supplementing with organic ingredients when possible. They use a volume pricing method, meaning the more servings you buy, the less expensive they become. 2-3 servings are $11.95 each while 4 or more drop to $9.95. They offer free shipping on orders over $60.
GreenChef.com – This service really stood out to us due to their seriousness towards gluten-free cooking. They were the first meal delivery service to be certified with the Gluten Intolerance Group’s GFFS program. That gives us much confidence when recommending gluten-free eaters check them out. In addition to their gluten free menus they also offer: omnivore, carnivore, Paleo, Keto, vegan, and vegetarian menus. Many of which come in Family size. They use all organic ingredients. Their pricing is fairly straightforward but dependent upon which menus you order from and how many you are feeding. From their site:
“Our pricing is based on the plan you choose and how many people will be eating each dinner.
2-Person Plan: 1 box contains 3 dinners for 2 people (6 meals/servings total per box).
Family Plan: 1 box contains 2 dinners for a family of four, served family-style for parents and kids (8 meals/servings total per box).
Vegetarian $10.49 per meal
Omnivore $11.99 per meal
Vegan $11.99 per meal
Carnivore $13.49 per meal
Gluten-free $13.49 per meal
Paleo $14.99 per meal
Note: Based on the protein preferences you set for the Omnivore or Carnivore Plan, you may receive a menu that falls under a different meal plan. Don’t worry-we’ll always charge you the lower price of the two plans.
Family Omnivore $11.99 per meal
Family Carnivore $12.99 per meal
Note: Above prices do not include $9 shipping and handling per box.”
CavemanChefs.com – This is a Colorado-based company directly serving the Denver-metro area, but they do offer next day shipping to areas outside of it. One of the things we found interesting is that they provide pick up locations at many CrossFit boxes in the area, killing two birds with one stone for many. What could be better than a workout then returning home with dinner without an additional stop? As their name implies, they focus on preparing Paleo meals and even Paleo catering, which is especially awesome when you’re hosting an event but don’t want to derail your dietary progress. As we were looking around their site we noticed they also offer menus for SIBO, low fodmap, Keto, Whole30 and PaleoAIP. In fact, according to their site, they are the first SIBO-specific meal delivery service in the U.S.! They offer up to 10 meals each week to choose from. As well, they are champions of environmental stewardship, sustainability, and humanely raised meats.They offer 100% grass-fed wagyu beef and lamb. As well as 100% antibiotic and hormone free pork and chicken, and wild caught Alaskan and verlasso salmon. They strive to use local, organic, and seasonal vegetables when available. One thing we noticed, that really set them apart from other services, is that they are willing to work with their customers in customizing meals, which means if you have an allergy or another dietary restriction they are there to help. Not that we’re saying other companies are inflexible, but some of their business models just don’t allow for substitutions or omissions, so they may not work for everyone. You can call or email to talk with their staff of professional chefs to keep you safe and healthy! We found that to be especially appealing for people with very strict protocols. We have added a link to their pricing page, because they offer a lot of options, including ordering by the pound, and we thought it might be easier to view it as they have it neatly presented on their site instead of run-on sentences trying to explain!
SupperBell.com – Is another Colorado-based delivery service, with a familiar name at the helm, Chef Frank Bonanno. Many of you who live in and around the Denver-metro area may be familiar with his family of restaurants that include Luca, Mizuna, Bones, Osteria Marco, to name but a few. If you have ever eaten at any of them, you can see why we’d recommend this service from their Chef! They provide a filter feature for their menus that you can select from: gluten-free, nut-free, Paleo, vegetarian, Light’NFit, and dairy free. These filters can be applied across entrees, sides/salads, breakfasts, families, and kids. And speaking of kids, there’s even something for the littlest ones! SupperBell offers their own line of baby food! Called Baby Fresh, they offer 4 stages of organic items ranging from purees to solids for babies 6 months to all ages. They work with many local and sustainable purveyors such as Seattle Fish Co., Polidori Sausage, The Spice Guy, and 5280 Culinary. Their pricing and ordering system reminds us of restaurant takeout just slightly, in that you can place your order day-of (by 3:00 p.m. local time), dishes aren’t priced the same across board but rather a la carte, and are delivered later that day between a time-window pre-selected by the customer. There are no contracts and a low order minimum of just $10 with a $2.95 delivery fee in their delivery zone.
Finally, we came across a website and Facebook page for a new service called SimplyAIP. They haven’t started delivery yet but will be launching their service this Spring (2018). They will be specializing in Autoimmune Protocol-friendly meals, treats and indulgences, which we are very excited to check out! Their Facebook page is already chock-full of information, recipes and blog links. We highly recommend you check them out, very informative! There tends to be a real sense of community amongst AIP’ers and we expect their pages to be no different. They also currently have an email sign up on their webpage so you can be on their list for grand opening information and notifications. We think they’re going to be a tremendous new resource for those following the AIP protocol!
In all, we are really excited these services exist and strongly recommend doing your own research to see which fits your specific needs and budget. We know that changing your diet, or following a strict protocol every day, can be stressful and intimidating for most people, especially at first. Even if you don’t use a meal delivery service 7 nights a week, the times you may can certainly be a great jumping off point to learn about your new protocol, the ins and outs, and get some future meal inspirations for when you are feeling more comfortable and confident in your protocol. We are huge proponents of saving time and remaining as stress-free as possible and these services are right up our alley. Imagine the time you can reserve for other pursuits to enhance your health such as going to the gym, taking a yoga class or meditation. Certainly makes cooking sound a little less appealing when there are convenient, healthy and reliable options like these!