Think you'd eat healthier if someone else made your meals? Would you have better portion control, lose weight or cut your salt intake? These are many of the reasons people sign up food delivery services.
Celebrities often do the plans to lose weight for a new movie role or to shape up for awards shows but food delivery services aren't just for high-profile people.
Typically, customers can choose from two to three meals a day for five to seven days, with desserts and snacks included.
Still while the plans are convenient, they're not always affordable or a long-term option.
Grocery shopping and food preparation can be a lot of work especially if you're busy while trying to lose weight. In this case, paying a company to make and deliver your meals saves time and energy.
"Most meal plan companies offer strict portion-controlled food, making calorie counting easy or unnecessary," says Marc Elkman, CEO of Fresh Meal Plan, the largest meal plan company in Florida, who goes on to explain, "Fresh, refrigerated meals are generally the best-tasting and offer the largest variety menu wise. Our philosophy is, why suffer if you don't have to?"
The services are convenient since the meals are delivered to your home or office.
"The meals are dropped off usually two or three times per week in coolers," says Mike Kneuer, nutritional team lead at Life Time Fitness. "Most meal delivery companies offer organic, vegan, gluten-free and double-protein options."
Plus you won't have to spend time on prep or cleanup. "Clients always comment positively on their gained time," says Elkman.
The delivered meals also hold you accountable.
"They leave you no excuses to not eat healthy, because there are always healthy options in your fridge," says Kneuer, who has worked with two delivery companies for his clients.
While there are many good things about meal delivery services, there are some drawbacks, including prices.
"The cost of meals from plans that I've worked with are between $7.99 and $12.99 per meal, depending on the options," says Kneuer, who says cooking on your own typically costs $5 and $10 per meal.
You might need to pay extra for nonorganic vegetables to avoid pesticides in your food. Many meals are frozen and need to be reheated.
Kneuer recommends not microwaving your meals, "especially in the plastic containers. BPAs from the plastic can leach into the food and cause disruption of your endocrine system."
Food delivery services aren't available in many parts of the country. The meal plan industry serves roughly three areas of the U.S.: the Northeast, including Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C.; California's major cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco; and South Florida, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach.
*What to Look For
If you're considering a delivery plan, think about the variety of options the plan will offer. Without variety, you'll quickly get bored.
"Choice is critical," says Elkman, who encourages you to find out who picks the meals -- you or the company.
"If your palate accepts almost anything, choice may not be critical to you," he says. "If there are foods you prefer or dislike, or maybe you are slightly allergic to something, then choice is very important.
If you have allergies, a food delivery plan may not be a good choice, as most plans can't guarantee allergy-free meals.
Though not a long-term solution, food delivery services are "a great start to learning how to eat healthy, says Kneuer. "But it is best to learn how to cook and prepare your own healthy meals."