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Subscription box services deliver meals and ingredients for people to prepare or just heat up at home. Many companies offer flexible meal plans that aim to suit a range of dietary and lifestyle requirements.
This article explores factors to keep in mind when choosing a subscription box service, some brands to consider, and the potential health effects of opting for one of these services.
A food subscription box is a container of premade meals or ingredients that companies deliver regularly to people’s homes. Different subscription services have been designed to suit different lifestyle and dietary requirements.
Some companies deliver chef-prepared meals that people can heat in the oven or microwave, or on the stovetop. Other brands provide portioned ingredients and recipe cards to help people prepare home-cooked meals quickly.
A customer usually signs up for a certain number of meals per week and chooses what they want online. The products are shipped in a way that preserves their freshness, and a person stores their meals or ingredients in the fridge before using them.
Some brands aim to suit people with a typical range of dietary requirements, while others cater to people with very specific needs. For instance, some brands offer meals or ingredients that are:
- designed for older adults or children
- designed for athletes or other very active people
- designed to support weight loss
Anyone looking at different meal subscription box services should take into account:
- whether each service delivers to their zip code
- whether they would like to heat up meals or receive portioned ingredients
- how many people are involved
- how many meals per day are required
- whether children or older adults are in the household
- whether anyone needs gluten-free or plant-based options
- whether the service accommodates people with allergies
- whether the options will provide enough variety
- the nutritional and caloric contents of the meals
- the cost, including delivery charges
There is a wide range of these services on the market, and they cater to various lifestyle and dietary requirements. Below, we explore what seven brands offer and how their services work.
Please note, the writer has not tested these products. All information is research-based.
Home Chef is a popular food subscription service that aims to suit people looking for low-calorie or carb-conscious meals, as well as people with other needs. The company sells meal kits and full meals prepared by chefs.
Plant-based options are limited, however, and some meals are higher in sugar and fat than those of other services. Home Chef does give a person the option of adding extra protein to their meals.
Daily Harvest delivers kits for plant-based meals, including smoothies, harvest bowls, and snack bites. People can also add things like flatbreads and lattes. Daily Harvest freezes its ingredients, stating that frozen foods retain more nutrients than fresh foods.
This brand may be a good option for people who are vegan or gluten-free and people looking to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables.
Blue Apron is a meal kit delivery service with vegetarian, carb-conscious, and diabetes-friendly recipes. It does not accommodate people who are gluten-free or vegan. Its meal plans suit households of two to four people.
Purple Carrot delivers meal kits for vegan diets. People can choose from breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes. Quick and easy, gluten-free, and high protein meals are also available.
The brand provides nutritional information for every meal, and all its packaging is recyclable.
HelloFresh delivers meal kits for recipes that are vegetarian or contain meat or fish. It also provides nutritional information for each meal, and all its packaging is recyclable.
Customers can opt for two to six meals per week, for two or four people.
Splendid Spoon is a plant-based meal delivery service offering ready-to-eat smoothies, soups, and grain bowls. Every meal is low in sugar and gluten-free.
This brand may suit people who have vegan or gluten-free diets or people who want to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Factor 75 delivers meals designed by dietitians and cooked by chefs. Each meal contains around 600 calories, and the company caters to a wide range of diets, including ketogenic, paleo, and plant-based diets.
People can enter the names of these meals into several nutrition apps, such as MyFitnessPal and Carb Manager, to track their nutrient intake. The company also offers each customer a 20-minute nutrition consultation by phone.
The potential health benefits of a subscription box depend on what it contains, and different brands offer meals and ingredients of varying nutritional quality.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has a free bodyweight planner that allows people to calculate how many calories and nutrients they should consume each day.
Opting for plant-based meals from a service could have specific health benefits. For example, according to a
Food subscription services may also be helpful for people working to reach or maintain a moderate weight. A 2021 study found that combining meal kits with a personalized meal planning service helped 39% of participants with obesity lose at least 5% of their starting weight.
A large, population-based study from 2017 compared body mass index (BMI) in people who ate home-cooked meals at least five times a week to those who ate them fewer than three times a week. The participants who ate more home-cooked meals were 28% less likely to have BMIs in the overweight range and 24% less likely to have excess body fat.
Food subscription services may represent a convenient way to eat healthy meals. And opting for meal kits rather than premade meals can encourage a person to improve their cooking skills.
When choosing a service, it is important to keep cost, dietary requirements, and family size in mind. Depending on a person’s needs, they may prefer plant-based, low-calorie, or carb-conscious options.