Two of the fastest growing trends in America are health awareness and life automation. The former is self-explanatory, but the latter is gradually creeping in like a ubiquitous fog, slowly saturating different aspects of our day to day life, almost with little to no notice. Monthly packages of razors, “personal” stylist shipping us boxes of clothing to try on in the privacy of our own bedroom, mobile car detailing services, bouncing from one corporate office parking lot to another in order to clean vehicles, while the owners grind away at their desks… even a Texas startup that delivers and pumps gas while you’re reviewing the cover letter for your TPS reports… If there isn’t a button, subscription, or app for it, there soon will be.
Long gone are the days of June Cleaver; breakfast waiting for us at the table, lunches packed, and let’s not forget dinner magically waiting for us when we walk in the door. No, now we find ourselves trying to squeeze an hour into 10 minutes, multitasking and juggling thoughts while bouncing between work, school, soccer practice and the gym, like a Starbucks-fueled pinball, until we’re blind sided with the haymaker of “What’s for dinner?.”
How often have you weighed the options of drive-thrus vs. shopping cart bumper cars. Sure, you COULD drive to Whole Foods, fighting traffic like a salmon up stream, only to play the cruel game of musical chairs with parking lots filled to the brim with octogenarians camping out with their blinkers on… You COULD navigate your cart through the quagmire of endless shelves, squeezing through the human obstacles clogging the arterial aisles like cholesterol… You COULD practice your breathing, while the person in front of you argues over the validity of their expired coupon… Then you COULD go home with your foraged bounty, just to have to cook it and do the resulting pile of dishes… Or… You could just pull up to that welcoming backlit sign and a speakerbox, providing you anonymity, while you order items from the dollar menu that would be impossible to request if you had to make eye contact with another human being. Since you’re already running late, “just this once” won’t hurt, right?
Fortunately, the days of having to choose between convenient, but unhealthy, or nutritious, but laborious, are coming to an end, thanks to the advent of meal plan services. While many people may think meal plan/meal prep is only for the serious athlete, the gym rat, or the OCD guy in accounting, more and more people are discovering the benefits of outsourcing and automating the laborious task of acquiring healthy meals. Instead of shopping, cooking, cleaning, imagine logging on, ordering and enjoying. Not only is the value in the convenience and the time saved each day, but having a healthy and maintainable plan for your meals, makes a dramatic difference in results and success rates of any fitness goal. Would you start a trip without even looking at a map? Probably not, yet people set specific goals with ambiguous plans on how to reach them. As you can imagine, many find themselves lost along the way.
Human beings are creatures of convenience now more than ever. If it’s 9pm and you’re hungrily debating between the bag of cheesy puffs in the pantry or the rotisserie chicken waiting for you in the Publix down the street, which are you more likely to eat? Now, imagine you’re choosing between that same bag of cheesy puffs and the Australian rack of lamb, crab stuffed flounder, or arroz con pollo, sitting in your fridge. How are those odds of making the right choice now? It’s not rocket science; it’s significantly easier to eat something healthy when it’s convenient.
With all the meal plan services that are developing up each day, it’s more difficult to decipher which plans are worth trying and which are worth avoiding. The first thing you want to do is check review sources like Yelp. Unlike Facebook and Google reviews, Yelp makes it nearly impossible to fake reviews by having friends and family create accounts to post bogus ratings. Don’t just consider the Yelp rating itself, also consider whether or not they have 3 reviews or 23. That alone filtered out 80% of the hogwash, allowing you to skip right to the playoffs. What else should you consider?
Commitment: Do you have to blindly commit to several weeks or a month, or can you try just a week to start? Companies that have confidence in their service should gladly offer commitment free weekly plans.
Guarantee: While genuine guarantees are becoming more difficult to find, a company that does actually offer satisfaction guarantees, obviously displays more commitment to retaining you by delivering the product and service they promise.
Convenience: If you have to drive across town to pick the meals up, you’re more likely to fall off versus having the meals delivered to you.
Control: Can I turn the service off if I’m out of town next week? Can I pick my own meals?
Selection: Am I going to get bored of the same menu, or does it change each week? How many meals can I select from, 10… 20… 50? The more selection, the more likely you are to find meals I’ll like.
Quality: What kind of ingredients are used? Fresh or frozen? If tilapia is even on the menu, run!
Portions: Nobody likes to feel like they’re dieting. Will I be circling the vending machine an hour after lunch because I ate a 3oz sliver of chicken and a scoop of mashed sweet potato, or am I getting healthy portions of healthy food cooked in a health conscious fashion that’ll keep me fueled and satiated?
A screening process like this can save you a lot of time and money. Then it just comes down to you. Try using a meal plan week to week for a month and see what you think. Track how much more regularly you eat your meals are now that you just have to pull from the fridge and reheat them. Don’t just focus on the scale or your waistline, assess the intangibles like how much better your feel, the impact on your stress level from reducing several decisions and tasks each day, or the extra time you have. You can bet that your bank account will see a benefit too, as the investment in a weekly meal plan is often a bit more affordable than a run to Publix or Whole Foods, not even considering the cost of your time. The popularity of this trend seems to only grow each month, hinting that this will soon be the rule versus the exception, with time.
-Casey is the COO & Co-Founder of a local Health Food Delivery service called Fit Food Fresh. He is passionate about getting people the high quality food they need to live their lives to the fullest. He works closely with gyms in the South Florida area to deliver their clients results and progress with the best food made convenient-