These days, it’s hard not to notice how many different meal delivery options there are available in Sydney. From pre-cooked microwave meals to the services that send you the ingredients for you to cook yourself, how do you know which options are going to be the tastiest, most convenient, budget friendly meals for you?
To make it easy our Sports Dietitian Kelsey Hutton has tested out a few of the options to review and to take all of the guess work out of it for you!
Meal delivery services are a great option for a lot of people particularly those who are athletes with a busy schedule, but need to ensure proper fuelling between training sessions, those who are too busy to be able to cook healthy meals during the week but don’t want to resort to takeaway all the time, or those who don’t enjoy cooking and would rather have something pre-made.
If getting a meal delivery is something that suits you, read below for our review of each of the options tested:
Hello Fresh is a service that delivers a box with dinner recipes and ingredients pre-portioned out for how many serves you’ve chosen. You can choose meals for 2 or 4 people, for 3, 4 or 5 nights of the week.
Each week the recipes for Hello Fresh change, but usually the boxes will have some sort of pasta or rice-based meal, a meat and vegetable-based meal, and a few other recipes that could vary from tacos, to pizzas or paella. What I liked the most about Hello Fresh is that all the ingredients and meals were tasty, fresh and pretty quick and easy to cook which is perfect for busy week nights.
I love the variety of meals you get each week with Hello Fresh, however I found that for athletes the variability means that the meals may suit your goals and training loads one day, but not for the next. It would take a good amount of knowledge about your nutrition needs each day to be able to appropriately match the given meals to your day.
Some days the meals were really filling and I had enough for leftovers the next day, on other nights the meals were just right or not quite as filling. I also found that the vegetable content of each meal is variable. Dinner is the main meal where most people will get in their vegetable intake, so if it’s low on some nights you may be missing out on some important nutrients across the week.
Cost: $10-$12 per meal
Nutrition: Could be improved with more vegetables each night, for this I would suggest keeping salad ingredients or frozen vegetables in the freezer to make it easy to add these in when needed. Sometimes the carbohydrate serves (i.e. rice and pasta) are bigger than most athletes would need for one serving, so this can lead to over eating. Working with a dietitian will you help you to alter the portion sizes to suit your needs.
Similar to Hello Fresh, Marley Spoon delivers ingredients and recipes for you to cook yourself. Similar as well to Hello Fresh, the meals vary from rice or pasta based meals, to meat and veg or salad meals. This means that one night your meal could be a high carbohydrate meal with low protein and low vegetables, while another night it may be a low carb meal. This is perfect for someone who might be periodising their intake based on different training each day, but not a great option for others who may need more consistency across the week.
Working with a dietitian to help you plan your week based on these meals will help set you up for success. Again, I’d recommend having extra vegetables or salads on hand for when these meals are low.
Cost: $10-$12 per meal
Nutrition: Could be improved with more vegetables each night. Sometimes the carbohydrate portions are quiet large, and protein portions small, which is not ideal for all athletes. Being able to alter these meals is a skill that would take time to learn.
The Dinner Ladies is a delivery service that makes frozen meals in vacuum sealed packs, that can then be finished off at home (i.e. they send you marinated meats that only need to be put in the oven at home and served with a side salad/veg). Each can be ordered in small, medium or large serve sizes, to serve one person or a family.
I ordered chicken wings, meatloaf and meatballs to trial, along with their side salad that can be kept frozen until needed. All the options were really tasty and definitely saved time in the kitchen during the week as cooking and preparing the meat part of our meals is what usually takes the longest. All I had to do each night was put the meat in the oven and then put together a quick salad to go on the side.
The options on their menu are similar to home-cooked meals, and because they don’t arrive to you pre-cooked, you still get a fresh meal each night which was the best part. This is a great option for athletes with high protein needs, because their meat is cared for, and all they’d have to buy from the shops is vegetables.
Cost: $10 – $35 (depending on serve size)
Nutrition: Most of the options are the meat/protein-based portion of the meal, which they give suggestions for what vegetables/sides would suit the dish best. If you follow their suggestions most of the meals are healthy, nutritious and would suit most people’s needs depending on the portion sizes you eat!
YouFoodz is a pre-made meal option available for online delivery or collection in IGA stores. To test out these meals, I decided to order a weeks worth of meals from their meal plan options, which meant breakfast, lunch and dinner were microwave meals.
The meal plan wasn’t filling enough personally and by the end of the week I was pretty sick of eating microwave meals. However, each of the meals was tasty, despite some being far more nutritious than others – some were high in saturated fat while others were very low-calorie meals with just a small amount of meat and some vegetables.
The variability of the meals would make it difficult to ensure that you’re choosing the right meals to suit your goals and nutrition needs across the week. Some of the meals are also salads, which meant they weren’t fresh or appetising by the end of the week. I would recommend these as a once-in-a-while convenience option that could be kept in the freezer for when you need, rather than an everyday option.
Cost: $9.95 per meal
Taste: 6-8/10 (depends on the meal chosen)
Nutrition: Each of the meals available are pretty variable in their nutrition content and energy content. Most of the meals are also pretty low in vegetables, however would still be healthier than most takeaway options, so are a great option when short on time.
My Muscle Chef
My Muscle Chef is similar to You Foodz, with online delivery of pre-made meals. My Muscle Chef has different portion sizes of each of their options available, and can be ordered as individual meals or as a meal plan to suit your goals.
All of their meals are meat based hot meals, with rice or vegetables on the side, so since they’re meant to be heated up rather than being salads, they were still appetising by the end of the week. Again, most of the meals are pretty low in vegetables, but still healthier than most takeaway options so can be suitable for dinners when you’re short on time.
Cost: $8 – $10 per meal
Nutrition: As with most of the meal deliveries, these are pretty low in vegetable content, so I’d recommend adding extra vegetables or salad on the side if eating these regularly. Since the meals are microwave meals, not fresh meals, they can get monotonous after a while, so I recommend having a couple handy in the freezer for busier nights, and switch to healthy homemade meals when you have time.
The above review is based on the opinions of Precision Athletica’s Sports Dietitian Kelsey Hutton. It is worth remembering that with different tastes and goals, some of the relevance may vary from person to person. If you would like to discuss the use of meal delivery in your diet, or your nutrition plan in general, please contact Kelsey at Precision Athletica, or book a session with her below.BOOK A NUTRITION SESSION