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The Best Meal Delivery Diet: Reviews of Bistro MD, Diet To Go, Freshology

We’ve completed our first ever side-by-side comparison of three leading meal delivery diet programs – Bistro MD, Diet To Go, and Freshology. This segment of the diet industry is large and continues to grow. Last year, John LaRosa of MarketData shared with us that the segment should “sustain 4.5% average annual growth from 2012 to 2014, reaching $1.09 billion in the latter year.”

Which one is the best? You’re always asking and we’re always wondering ourselves. So we finally sat down to find out.

The winner? Bistro MD. It was a stand out favorite on many levels, from nutrition to taste and quality, as well as packaging.

Diet To Go took the second spot, and Freshology rounded out the list at third.

Let us explain how we got there.

TASTE TEST

In the most qualitative part of our review, we took ourselves out of the equation and invited five individuals to sample the meals. Four women and one man sampled five meals from each brand. We paired three similar meals together in five rounds; for instance, round two featured soups/stews and round four featured all egg-based breakfast dishes.

Our testers knew the brand names, and we provided each cooked meal in the containers in which they were prepared alongside the packages. Testers scored each on a 1 (worst) to 5 (best) scale and left any notes they thought worthwhile.

Score Results (based on an average of all scores)

Bistro MD - 3.5

Freshology2.86

Diet To Go2.39

Bistro MD received the most five-point scores, while Diet To Go scored only as high as a 4 for its Lentil Chili with Grilled Cheese and a Brownie. The most preferred meal of Bistro MD was Jerk Chicken with Okra. For Freshology, the Tomato Spinach Egg Stack breakfast scored the brand’s only 5.

The most common comment across all brands was too much salt, evident in taste and on nutrition labels. Some dishes didn’t stand up well to microwaving – like Freshology’s Shrimp Jambalaya which became “quite chewy,” the Turkey Burger from Diet To Go that was incredibly watery and fell apart, and Bistro MD’s corn which looked “old and chewy.”

NextAdvisor.com recently did a meal delivery comparison too, and found different results than we did. Freshology was not included, but Diet To Go took first place while Bistro MD took third. Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem were also included.

NUTRITION

Bistro MD and Diet To Go both included standard nutrition and ingredient labels on their packaging; Freshology skipped this entirely, which we found very disconcerting.

There weren’t any true winners here. With two brands to compare, neither met our dietitian’s criteria for frozen meals. Mary Hartley, RD suggests a frozen meal should have 300-450 calories, 0 trans fat, less than 3.5 grams fat, less than 1 gram saturated fat, more than 5 grams fiber, less than 600 milligrams sodium, and less than 2 grams sugar. Only one of Bistro MD’s meals exceeded the calories, while five of Diet To Go’s nine meals exceeded.

Bistro MD only had two meals that came close, meeting four of the criteria – Cinnamon Sweet Potato Pancakes and the Salmon Pepper Coulis (which our taste testers were impressed by the quality/taste). Diet To Go had one meal that came close, meeting three of the criteria – Macaroni and Cheese (which our testers called “average” and “bland”).

Most Bistro and Diet To Go meals exceeded sodium recommendations. The worst offender for Bistro had 850 milligrams in the Jerk Chicken meal; while Diet To Go had three meals with alarming amounts of sodium (1110mg, 1300mg, 1430mg).

INGREDIENTS

These brands were mostly true to their word to use whole, fresh ingredients in their meals. Whole vegetables were present and best attempts to preserve the fruit were taken. Artificial ingredients were used sparingly if at all.

Bistro MD impressed us with whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat flour, seaweed in the vegetarian burrito, and cane syrup in the sweet potato pancakes. However, we were dismayed by the inclusion of sucralose (or Splenda) in the berry crepes and veal stock in the stuffed chicken breast. And what is “beef flap meat” in the vegetable beef stir fry?

Diet To Go had some interesting inclusions – like whole cups of Yoplait yogurt which is something we say is worse for you than a candy bar. A DanActive yogurt, V8 Fusion, and Ocean Spray orange juice and apple juice were also included; we would have rather seen whole fruit. Enriched flour was used for the cornbread muffin breakfast, but wheat pasta was used for the macaroni and cheese. In their turkey burger, no vegetable toppings nor instructions to add them were included, and a ketchup packet with high fructose corn syrup was.

Again, Freshology provided no information about ingredients.

COST

  • BistroMD was the mid-price at $25.99 per day for the 5-day meal plan without snacks.
  • Diet To Go was the most affordable at $20.43 per day for a 7-day meal plan.

LaRosa’s MarketData found that the average cost for a month on a meal delivery diet can cost $726, and these plans were no exception. At these prices for 30 days, Freshology was $1288, Bistro $779, and Diet To Go $612.

OTHER NOTES

Freshology

Cooking instructions were also excluded from the delivery. Their name and marketing imply fresh foods, but the processing dates printed on our meals (received the first week of January) were November 12, and December 1, 2, and 3. As for packaging, one of our testers called the “Dancing With the Stars”-themed meals “glitzy and a little embarrassing.”

Bistro MD

We received one of the first deliveries of the all-new Bistro MD. The brand underwent a major update in recent months with changes from their menus to website and logo. We had two “old” packages in our mix of meals giving our testers something to compare. The packaging was called “clean and inviting” by one tester and the inside “looked the most like a frozen dinner.”

Diet To Go

Our testers were the least impressed with the this brand’s packaging, calling it “sloppy and not appealing.” Another said the pre-cooked food looked “like school lunch.” We were most taken by the amount of brand-name, packaged ingredients within the Diet To Go meals that could easily have been purchased at the grocery store for less.

Also Read:

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CeeLo Signs eDiets Endorsement Deal

25 Most Popular Diets of 2012

Meals for this review were provided by the brands, but we were under no obligation to any for a biased or in-favor review. The results, comments, and review of these meals remains our own opinion and a reflection of our own experience and that of our independent, volunteer testing panel. Bistro MD provided meals from their brand and Freshology; Diet To Go provided their own meals. We are an advertising partner for Bistro MD and Diet To Go.

January 15th, 2013

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(Page 1 of 1, 3 total comments)

lib

How can the frozen meal concept of Bistro MD diet work for 13 months? How is it possible for anyone stay on any frozen diet like Bistro MD for 13 months? That feels like an eternity to me. Two weeks or 1 month of any frozen diet feels more realistic. These days fresh beats all for long term diets for every reason under the sun. Just ask the magic 8 ball google or any nutritionist. There are so many reasons to choose fresh diet deliveries for long term. and now so many deliveries to choose from. If you can't afford the very best quality like a Freshology or Sunfare, than grab a basic one like fresh diet or chefs diet. Today you can get a fresh program at a moderate quality at the same price you pay for Bistro MD, they have less sodium and much better for you. I live in LA now and I've tried all of these, the top are much better than all, but the others ok and better than frozen any-day.

posted Jan 26th, 2013 1:14 am


Lydia

Im sure every post-menopausal woman can relate to how difficult it is to shed the pounds that magically appear. I was no different and for the past several years, I have tried MANY different weight loss programs. I consistently worked out at the gym, and sure, I could lose 10 or 15 lbs but I would get bored with the food or program and it would always creep back on plus some.
I started on BistroMD about 13 months ago and have lost 53 lbs. The food tastes GREAT, I havent had a meal I havent loved yet but if I DID find something I didnt like, it's a simple few clicks of the mouse to have it removed from my future deliveries.
But BistroMD goes beyond just tasting great. They have nutritionists on hand either via phone or email that can help me through the inevitable plateaus. For example, we found that because I do work out so much, I actually have to ADD food to my day and the nutritionists advised me on what and how much.
I tracked the nutritional ingredients in a week because I can only have 2000mg of salt throughout the day. I could choose to go on the lower salt version of BistroMD but I found that my daily meals and snacks are right in the range that I like to keep in.
Beyond the great tasting food and supportive nutritionists, BistroMD has the most amazing and responsive customer service team that I have ever dealt with. There are times that I have to go out of town and its not convenient to bring a weeks supply of food with me. No problem! BistroMD allows you to halt shipments occasionally with absolutely no penalty. There are no joining fees.
BistroMD also has a great community on FaceBook where we are all there to support each other.
I really love my BistroMD, Im never bored by the food and not only do I rarely feel those old hunger pangs, Im actually losing weight! Im so thrilled with how my figure is coming back and I can only say a big THANK YOU to BistroMD!

posted Jan 18th, 2013 2:12 pm


Libby

Reviewers should have accurate information before posting to the public. You make many false claims in this article. I'm on the FRESH FOOD Freshology plan and its awesome. You reviewed the dancing with the stars frozen plan which is totally different than Freshology fresh program. Freshology also makes a frozen meals under Lifestyle label which I've enjoyed so much over the Bistro MD, which does have nicer packaging than before, but they Bistro MD should put more money into the food itself and menu items. Im surprised your site would make such big mistakes in your article. Not like this site at all.

posted Jan 15th, 2013 8:25 pm



   
 

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