Eating healthy can be a costly, time-consuming affair. And take out is great for an occasional pre-cooked option, it can make it hard to keep up with your diet needs. However, thanks to new tech and options, it has never been easier to get food delivered to your door.
There are hundreds of services available, according to the New York Times. Whatever you may need, be it groceries, meal plans, pre-cooked meals, or special diets, there is likely a service available. They can often be made to fit to a person’s specific wants, needs, and location. The services are also flexible, from ordering at the push of a button, to a subscription that delivers a certain number of meals to your door on a regular basis.
Each person and family will find different services to be the perfect fit. But, what are the available options? And what should you consider when making choices?
NOTE: LupusCorner is not associated with any of the companies or services in this article and does not receive compensation for referrals
What are Pre-Made Meals and Delivery Services?
When we talk about “meal delivery” we are actually talking in very general terms. The truth is, meal delivery services can be broken into three distinct groups: meal planning, meal kits, and meal delivery.
Meal plans take some of the guesswork out of your diet, providing a plan – and recipes – that adhere to a specific diet. These are usually very affordable, but will require shopping and cooking. However, if you are trying to keep to a diet, such as AIP or Calorie-limited, this can help you stick to it. Even if you aren’t, planning meals takes a lot of energy. Save your spoons for something else!
A meal kit takes the meal planning even further, giving you not only a recipe and a plan, but the basic ingredients that you need for it as well. Popular services such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are this kind of delivery. Typically, these plans send very exact amounts of everything except for kitchen staples (oil, salt, and pepper). Some even cut up and prepare some ingredients beforehand.
While meal kits still require you to put the ingredients together and cook the meal yourself, they take the guesswork and shopping out of meals. Many people feel, that these kit-type plans help them learn how to cook and be more confident in the kitchen.
Meal deliveries have already handled the cooking for you. Some are fresh – deliver and eat, much like takeout. Some are frozen or otherwise preserved or sealed, and ready to heat-and-eat. Generally, getting these regular deliveries through a meal delivery service ensures more access to meal options. Meal delivery generally doesn’t require shopping or cooking (beyond the microwave),
In addition, many of these plans offer some sort of holiday-based services.
Each of these three types of meal service can be good for a person with lupus, but which one works for you depends on your specific needs.
What Meal Plan is Best for People with Lupus?
Choosing the right meal kit for you depends on your needs and capabilities.
Do you have a specific diet that you need to keep to, for your lupus or for a comorbidity such as diabetes or heart disease? Are you okay with shopping and cooking, but are having trouble figuring out meals? A Meal Plan may be the right thing for you.
Do you want to learn how to cook? Are you looking to build your confidence or feel more independent? Is shopping too stressful or draining? Do you not have a good selection of ingredients or food in the area? Then a Meal Kit or Grocery Delivery Service might be ideal.
Does meal planning, shopping, and cooking use up too much time and energy, both mental and physical? Does your fatigue and pain make the entire process onerous and frustrating? Do you just have other things you want to think about? A pre-made meal delivery service might be the way to go, here. Trifecta Nutrition is one such plan.
You should also be thinking about:
- Generally, a plan will be more expensive than buying and cooking the groceries yourself. Though, the energy saved may help you stay healthy and on top of the rest of your life. Between medical costs, medicine prices, and challenges with work, costs are important to monitor. Some plans may fit your budget better (or be more worth the price) than others. Many plans
- Ingredient Quality
- Diet Choices
- Some plans offer a smaller number of dishes that are cycled through or are seasonal. For some people, a lack of variety in the dishes might be a problem — for others, it might be a positive feature!
- Meal Amount
- Many kits and meal plans offer only a few meals a week, though this will differ from plan to plan. Of course, if you get a meal plan that provides meals for two, but are the only one eating it, you will only need to cook once to have two meals! It is up to you what frequency and number of meals you will get.
Custom Meal Plans and Lupus
There are also plans like Nutrisystem that are totally customizable. This can be very good for a person with lupus and complex nutritional needs. Nutrisystem, for example, offers you a personal counselor and dietician, in addition to delivering the food to your door! However, plans like this often have a focus – such as, in Nutrisystem’s case, calorie-reduction and weight loss – and a very high commitment (6 meals per day in this case!) which can be stressful.
Adding a nutritionist or dietician to your lupus treatment team can be helpful. They will work with you to create personalized, custom plans.
Meal Delivery Benefits
First, you can get specific diets, including medical diets like AIP. Many people find diets tricky to deal with, but having someone else take care of planning, shopping, or cooking can help a great deal!
Because the meals are often pre-portioned, (as in the well-known delivery services Hello Fresh and Blue Apron) you don’t have to bother with measurements or calorie counting – that’s already been done. Knowing that one’s meals are nutritionally appropriate and “just what the doctor ordered” can take a lot of uncertainty and guilt out of mealtime, and can be a real load off of the mind.
There are also many different kinds meal plans at varying levels of complexity and prep. On the financial note, prices and portions are also variable. With all of the options out there, it is very easy to find the ideal plan for you, without much searching or research.
Finding the perfect plan or service for you can save you time and energy, while helping you get the nutrition that you need. Some plans, like Every Plate, aim to be low-cost, too.
Meal Delivery Negatives
What might make you think twice about using a meal delivery service?
First, in order to have meals delivered, you need an address to deliver it to and you need to be able to pick up the package in some way. A PO box won’t work, and leaving a box on your doorstep for hours on end can potentially allow the ingredients to spoil.
Meal delivery still required work and require scheduling. Depending on the meal plan, it requires effort to pick up, cook, and store your delivery. Even the pre-made meals require you to be able to receive the meal in the first place, which can be difficult during severe flares.
Meal plans also costs more than buying groceries and prepping the meals yourself. You cannot control the portions, and often times, meal plans save costs by only offering small portions.
And, while many plans have a variety of diets to choose from, the otherwise perfect plan may be missing your diet.
Most of these cons can be avoided by doing a little research and picking a plan that suits your (or your family’s) needs.
Finding a Meal Delivery that Works for You
The New York Times may be a good place to start your search. They wrote an article comparing various meal delivery services and assessing them through surveys and testing based on several factors.
I Heart Vegetables, a blog about vegetable-based diets. This has some great vegetarian options to consider.
If you keep the cost, quality, diet choices, variety, and level of effort in mind, you should be able to find several potential delivery services with a simple online search. It might not be a bad idea to sit down and figure out what you want from the delivery service.
If you’re not sure, talk to other people with lupus – they may have advice for you!
Have a favorite option or strategy? Add it in the comments!
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