Can the Internet Really Supply You With Healthy Meals?
Whether as a New Year’s Resolution, preparation for a big event or a simple desire to feel better, most of us have promised ourselves at one time or another to stop eating so much take-out and prepare healthier meals at home.
While it’s easy to say you’re going to eat healthier, the actual execution of meal planning, grocery shopping and meal preparation can be, at times, overwhelming.
Technology now has some great solutions to help us make those essential changes that will once and for all lead to a healthier lifestyle. Here are four ways the internet can help supply you with healthy meals.
#1 Meal Delivery Services
Meal delivery services are a relatively new business in the world of technology. Companies such as The Mindful Chef aim to take all of the work out of healthy eating. These businesses offer a subscription service for customers to choose the number of meals they want to be delivered each week along with a menu that has a variety of options to choose from.
For as little as ₤6 per meal, the company sends a box with precisely measured fresh ingredients, recipes and detailed cooking instructions directly to your home. Everything you need to prepare a healthy meal is included in the box, and most recipes require 30 minutes or less to prepare.
In addition to providing a simple solution for weeknight meal planning, these meal delivery services have the added benefit of introducing you to new dishes and ingredients you might not be inclined to try on your own.
One downside to these services is they can be somewhat expensive. You can expect to pay ₤6-₤10 per serving for an average meal, depending on the service you use and the number of weekly meals in your subscription. However, many of the services offer an initial upfront discount or some free meals to give you the opportunity to test them before you fully commit.
#2 Ingredient Delivery
Another option in the food delivery space is to receive a regular delivery of fresh produce and other healthy foods. Services such as Able & Cole and Riverford Organic Farmers offer an alternative to the grocery store. On a weekly basis, companies such as these will put together a box filled with healthy, locally sourced organic produce and deliver it to your door.
In some cases, you can check out what’s going to be in the box and swap out ingredients you don’t like. With other services, a variety of healthy foods will simply arrive at your door once per week.
These ingredient delivery services don’t usually come with recipes or meal planning of any kind, so you will have to put in the effort to find and make recipes that match the ingredients you receive each week. The variety will encourage creativity in your meal planning and allow you to use new ingredients you might otherwise be hesitant to try. It’s also a great way to increase your intake of fruits and veggies.
Most services offer a variety of delivery sizes so that you can choose the right amount of produce for your household. Prices vary, but a box suitable for one to two people starts at around ₤10 per week.
Some of these services even allow you to add additional groceries to your order. Then, if you want to skip the grocery store altogether, you can order everything from meat and eggs to bread and more and have it delivered right to your door. While the cost of organic food might be higher than you’re used to paying, you’ll likely be surprised by how much money you save when you aren’t making impulse purchases in the store.
#3 Online Cooking Classes
Maybe you enjoy meal planning and grocery shopping but lack the kitchen skills to make your recipes shine. If you don’t have time to attend classes at an actual cooking school, then online video classes are the next best thing.
The online cooking school from America’s Test Kitchen offers more than 230 classes in a variety of cooking styles and techniques. With your enrollment, you can choose from popular classes such as Focus on Fried Chicken, Dumplings and Potstickers, and Cook it in Cast Iron. Classes are categorized and easily searchable by main ingredient, level of difficulty and recipe type.
The classes aren’t only made up of online videos. They are interactive and include quizzes and exercises to test your knowledge and build your skills. There’s even an option to work one-on-one with an instructor to get feedback on your work.
The site offers a 14-day free trial membership, which gives you unlimited access to all of the classes on the site. After your free trial, you can continue your membership for as little as $19.95 USD (around ₤15) per month, or if you want to access the instructors, up to $39.95 USD (around ₤30) per month. If your humdrum cooking skills have been stopping you from preparing healthy meals at home, then this is a worthy investment.
Though the site is accessible from anywhere, video content from overseas servers can occasionally be blocked by your internet service provider. If you have trouble streaming the videos, try using a proxy software service to access your cooking classes.
#4 Meal Planning Services
If you prefer to do your own grocery shopping, a meal planning service such as PlateJoy might be the right choice for you. PlateJoy provides custom, on-demand meal plans and grocery lists, perfectly tailored to your individual needs and preferences.
To begin using the service, you’ll complete a short quiz to give the system an understanding of any dietary restrictions you have, such as an allergy to nuts or a preference for vegetarian meals. You’ll also answer questions about how much time you have to prepare meals and for how many people you’ll regularly be cooking.
PlateJoy can cater to nearly any goal or dietary need, including gluten-free, low-carb, batch cooking, kid-friendly and nearly 50 more. At the cost of only $8-12 USD (₤6-9) per month, it’s a much more budget-friendly option that allows you to save money by sourcing less expensive ingredients when possible.
Most of us struggle with healthy eating for one reason or another. Luckily, whether it’s grocery delivery or simple meal planning, the internet has many ways to help us overcome those struggles and eat healthier.
About the Author: As a health professional and fitness coach, Caroline is familiar with the struggles that come with preparing healthy meals for busy individuals. Her work as a writer for eHealth Informer revolves around sharing her knowledge with others who want to live healthier lives.