As we all face up to the enormous question of how we used to fit work, a social life, personal admin and cooking into our lives, one thing that can ease the strain is a healthy meal delivery service.
Getting your healthy meals delivered is one way to take some of the stress out of trying to stay on top of things, while you balance several weddings, avoiding covid and maintaining some semblance of work-life balance.
Luckily, meal delivery options are on the rise and can be ordered for yourself or any vulnerable relatives in need. Many of them are now available outside of the M25 and with recipe box brands like Mindful Chef branching out into ready meals, the cost of this type of convenient healthy food has lowered - if you're the kind of person who orders a library of healthy cookbooks and then leaves them to gather dust then this is good news.
Years ago, this sort of service simply meant diet food delivery, but that's not the only option any more. Yes, there are some fitness-friendly offerings, but rather than simply calorie slashing, these focus on fuelling and counting macros.
Worried about the planet? Personal meals can cut down on food waste because you're delivered the perfect portion size. But do check each service's sustainability polices and options. Most will offer you the option of forgoing plastic cutlery and brands such as Fresh Fitness Food deliver in eco-friendly and compostable containers.
Simply put, healthy food delivery used to be luxury but thanks to the healthy competition you have to fork out less and less.
Meal delivery services – read before you order
Check delivery options
Most services deliver while you sleep. This means, if you live on a street with no safe hiding you risk your food parcel going walkies. Do think about this before you order and strategically place empty recycling bins or bags that could conceal your healthy food delivery.
Double check new customer policy
Not all meal delivery services are taking on new customers. You'd do well to check the policy before perusing their menus.
Personalise your plan
Consider cucumbers the enemy? Can’t stand coriander? Ask your chosen health meal delivery service if they omit ingredients. Most will remove up to two foods at no extra cost.
Clear your fridge out
If you choose a meal plan that delivers once for the week make sure you have enough space in the fridge to store it. Ready-made meals can be boxy and take up a lot of space – ditch those old condiments that have been lingering around like a bad ex.
Ask about packaging
There's no getting away from the abundance of packaging when ordering a week's worth of meals in individual portions. However, some companies are better than others where the planet is concerned. We say, inquire about their eco-initiatives before you find yourself with more plastic boxes that Poundland.
12 Healthy Meal Delivery Services
Healthy Meals Delivered for Flexible Goals: Natural Fitness Food
Natural Fitness Food was once only available in boutique gym chain Third Space, as such you know all the meals have been created with fitness and fuelling in mind. With 'Lean', 'Fuel' and 'Clean' options, you can order based very specifically around your training schedule. (And don't let the names put you off, none of them are silly low calorie or nutrient lite.)
As mentioned, these healthy meals delivered are designed with fitness in mind. You can opt for the Build Your Own Day Pack where you choose the meals and products you want, with an automated calculator in the cart tracking your calories & macros to build it around your goals. Even if you're not counting anything religiously, you can make choices easily based on whether you're on a workout or rest day.
The other option is to let them do the thinking for you based on a dietary goal.
One other very big pro is the taste. It can be really tricky, especially with meals that focus on 'diet', to find healthy food delivery that genuinely tastes good. Well, somehow Natural Fitness Food manages to make chicken satay delicious and lean... maybe the serving suggestions on peanut butter were right all along?
As it's fairly new, the veggie and especially vegan options are a bit limited. While delicious you may struggle for variety after a few orders. It's also sadly only available in London and within the M25... at the moment.
From £20 per day. Natural Fitness Food
Healthy Frozen Meal Delivery Service: Mindful Chef
The latest addition to the Mindful Chef offering are frozen meals. Nothing like frozen fish in parsley sauce from your childhood, these are delicious portions of healthy dinners that take 8 minutes or less to cook.
If you loved the Mindful Chef recipe boxes but you CBA to cook after you've homeschooled the kids, then you'll love these meals. Take your pick from a wide selection of yummy recipes that contain meat and fish (MC only ever use 100% British grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and fresh fish landed sustainably on British shores). If you order before 2pm you can receive delivery the next day.
If you're buying meals for one it's likely that you won't have a chest freezer to store meals upon meals in. However, you can get around bulk ordering by individual meals at £7 each - spend over £24 to receive free delivery.
Meals from £7. Mindful Chef
Healthy Food Delivery for Smaller Budgets: Balance Box
Balance Box delivers Classic, Vegetarian, Pescatarian and Free-From boxes for differing appetites and right now are partnering with their sister company Pure Package, to guarantee health meals for all customers in self-isolation. Choose between a 1,200 or 1,800 healthy food delivery package without breaking the bank - and it doesn't compromise on quality. All the ingredients are fresh and ethically sourced, which is why celebs, such as Millie Mackintosh have been know to order the plan.
Snacks. Yes, snacks. In keeping with the name, sugar levels are kept balanced with fruit and nut snacks twice a day. Plus, Balance Box has a commitment to sustainability by addressing the impact your food has on the environment. Order from them and chow down consciously.
Don't go for a 13-mile long run on this plan. No seriously. If you're running off hundreds of calories and have chosen the lighter menu plan (1200 cals), you could leave yourself under-fuelled.
Cost: From £22.99 per day, one-off orders and subscriptions available, Balance Box
Food Delivery While you Shop: Amazon Fresh
This new initiative from Amazon allows its Prime subscribers to access fresh food delivery for an extra £3.99 per month (Prime membership costs £7.99 per month). The service provides access to a wide range of fresh and frozen produce, including meat, fish, dairy and household essentials.
You can find food from a range of shops, from boujier Whole Foods buys to Morrison's staples - ideal for accommodating varying tastes and budgets. Plus, all the paper bags used are 100% recyclable and can be handed back to your driver on the next delivery.
The price doesn't count towards any food you buy, only the privilege of buying it. It's also currently only available in certain areas of London (though this may soon change), so the majority around the country won't have access.
Minimum order £40, with same-day and next-day delivery available Amazon Fresh
Best New Diet Meal Delivery Service: Balance Meals
Balance Meals are one of the newest meal delivery services on the block, but they pride themselves on offering more freedom and flexibility than others. They'll serve the breakfasts you wish you had time to make but never do – banana pancakes we're talking about you - and use 100% recyclable packaging.
The really easy to use online site lets you choose your own breakfast, lunch and dinners - vegan-only plans included. This is great if you don't like surprises or know what foods work for your body and your lifestyle. Eg. there's little point in ordering food that requires a knife and fork if you know you're going to need to eat it in the car. Choose an overnight oats pot with a spoon instead.
The plastic packaging is 100% recyclable, but if you're looking to cut down on waste full stop you might have an issue after a full week of meals.
Plans start from £19.80 per day and are delivered nationwide. Balance Meals
Best Diet Food Delivery: Fresh Fitness Food
Previously tried to eat veggie and gave up on day three of mac ‘n’ cheese? Let the masters of macro based eating rectify that. Their plant-based programme (add dairy and eggs as you please) are perfect tofu lovers. This means you can choose a specific goal (Fat Loss, Maintenance or Lean Muscle) and the chefs will prep you up to 6 veggie meals a day. All food is gluten and refined sugar-free.
Not veggie? No problem. FFF is the stalwart of meal delivery and there's few diets that they haven't catered for. Paleo, pescatarian or low-carb – they meal prep for all.
If you want to lose weight well – and keep it off – a couple of weeks of FFF can coach you in what a healthy day of food looks like. Take pictures of your meals and use your daily delivery as food inspiration at a later date.
The new sustainable packaging doesn't transport as well as their previous plastic tubs, however, what might be tricky for you is better for the environment. We say, suck it up.
Delivered daily from £23 per day, Fresh Fitness Food
Nutritious Weight Loss Meal Delivery: Detox Kitchen
Often when weight loss comes into the equation, nutrition goes out as calorie count becomes the main concern. Not on Detox Kitchen's watch. The protein cleanse is designed to kick-start healthy eating with plant-based foods with added lean protein.
Want to make your own meals? Detox Kitchen are currently offering a 'Veg & Essentials Box' for £40 (including delivery), stuffed with fresh, UK-sourced produce to help keep your cupboards stocked through socially-distanced days.
You get everything you need in one drop. Each (1,500 calories) box includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, plus 1 juice, 1 ginger shot, 1 snack and 1 teabag. All meat is free-range and fish is sustainably sourced. Lactose free? No problem. All Detox Kitchen food is dairy, refined sugar and wheat free.
Currently, the team can only deliver in the M25 area. However, if your postcode is not included in their delivery area, get in touch and DK will do their very best to work out a solution for you.
From £31.45 per day (minimum 3-day order) Detox Kitchen
Smoothie Delivery Service: Honestly Good
Forever making smoothies from questionable five-day-old fruit? Or stuck in a Nutribullet rut? Enter: Honestly Good. Choose from different flavour combinations that arrive prepped and packaged in individual bags. Each morning take one out of the freezer, add the suggested liquid and blend. Pour back into the cup and you have yourself a healthy coffee alternative to take on your commute with you.
They do with healthy ingredients what mixologists do with alcohol – create the best tasting drinks! Plus, freezing organic fruit and vegetables locks in nutrition so you'll be sipping a smoothie that packs more a nutritional punch than one made with old veg.
Extra = extra cost (when compared with bulk buying ingredients and making them yourself). Plus, extra packaging.
From £3.75 per smoothie with free nationwide delivery. Honestly Good
Healthy Food Delivery in London: Potage
Started as a one-woman bicycle delivery service back in 2012 by Georgia Cummings, Potage is a homegrown business that has truly been built from the ground up. For those who don't have time, Georgia and a team of ten deliver homemade meals made using only top quality, fresh ingredients — to save you from the meal prep.
The food focus is on using wholesome and locally sourced ingredients rather than weight loss. Vegetables come fresh from New Covent Garden market every morning and all the meat is supplied by Georgia's local butchers. Lunches include seared tuna, grainy mustard new potatoes, avocado & a soft boiled egg, free range Welsh chicken satay with fresh coriander, cucumber & sticky sushi rice salad and hot-smoked salmon, guacamole & brown rice salad with sweet chilli dressing. Try not to drool...
You'll need cutlery and napkins on hand. As part of their environmentally friendly ethos, Potage use minimal packaging and no plastic. Their salad boxes are made from plants rather than plastic and so are fully compostable, and all delivery bags are recyclable and compostable. And none of it compromises presentation. Pretty cool, right?
From £9 for a main salad, free delivery on orders over £75. Potage delivers Monday to Saturday 7am - 7pm. Potage
Vegan Meal Delivery Service: Spring Green London
If you want to go vegan in 2020 try Spring Green. This healthy food delivery service make light work of a 100% plant-based menu. The kitchen is headed up by Michelin-trained chef Bonnie Stowell, who knows just what busy, health and wellness obsessed women want.
Perhaps the prettiest of food delivery options - lunches of Rainbow Rolls with Chia Crackers and a Grapefruit Ginger Dip are as Instagrammable as they are yum.
If you train hard (at home) then you might find this plan too calorie light. Plus, they only deliver to London customers.
Cost: Starting from £36 per-day, plans start at 3 days Spring Green London
Meal Delivery for Easy Weight Management: No1 Food Prep
No1 Food Prep is a great option for those looking to tidy up their nutrition without sacrificing on taste. These guys guarantee tasty meals to suit any goals, whether that's building lean muscle or losing fat - all their macros are calculated to a tee, no need for weighing anything up by hand. The various probiotic and fermented dishes on the menu are also #gutgains. Buy individual meals, or sign up now to book in a 7-day or 14-day plan.
All meals with a generous serving of veg, but double veg options are available to pack in even more of a nutritional punch and give your immune system a welcome boost. Plus, this is one of the most purse-friendly picks on the table.
The website can be a little confusing to navigate, but don't let that stop you - the team are available via live chat, should you have trouble putting together your plan.
From £16 per day, deliveries are made twice a day No1 Food Prep
No Nonsense Fitness Food Delivery: Gymology
Thinking of jumping on a new fitness routine? Gymology are the ones to help you do it. Whether it's shedding fat combined with a new running regime, packing on lean muscle with dumbbell workouts, or simply fuelling your way through a day at the (home) office, these fuss-free, macro-calculated meals are handy to have stashed in the fridge.
Choose between Build, Balance or Burn plans according to your nutritional goals, while smoothies and snacks are also available should you desire. Their constantly updating menu spans over 300 dishes, so any easily-bored taste buds won't be disappointed.
BTW, their Blue Light Card means NHS, Emergency Services and Armed Forces workers can now benefit from a 10% discount on any plan. Result.
Gymology are one of the only fresh food delivery services who offer meals for kids as well - choose from a range of healthy, veg-packed dishes to keep the whole family happy. Plus, their recent sustainable redesign means plastic waste is at a minimum.
While the taste is just as good, some of the dishes are not the most beautiful of all the offerings on the market. But as long as you can make it through one meal without 'gramming, you should be alright.
What if I prefer to cook for myself?
If the idea of receiving ready-made meals makes you itch for a little more DIY time in the kitchen, don't worry. There are plenty of recipe box services out there to satisfy your culinary cravings - keeping food waste to a minimum and maintaining your nutritional goals? Win win.
Check out our round up of the best recipe boxes. Or read our honest account of what happens when you chug rather than chew and don't forget to check our ultimate weight loss tips. We've got your covered from healthy eating to fitness programmes.