Two significant events occurred in my life this past May. I finally learned how to cook a grilled cheese sandwich and delightedly welcomed my first child into the world. Realizing that my deficiencies in the kitchen put me at a major disadvantage in the world of child rearing, I was resolved to refine my culinary skills.
After a couple serviceable attempts in the kitchen—a decent veggie burger, a not-too-clumpy homemade alfredo sauce—I felt indifferent, uninspired, and still relatively pedestrian as a chef. But in a simple whisk of fate, Plated.com arrived at our office. Plated is a new start-up that allows you to pick and choose healthy recipes online, then sends all the ingredients right to your door complete with dummy-proof cooking instructions.
Plated features a weekly menu—everything from warm kale and quinoa salad to London broil—and gives you two different ways to order. The a la carte method allows you to order four to six plates at about $15 per plate. (A “plate” is a serving for one person.) There’s also a membership option wherein you pay $10 per month and save up to $4 per plate.
Plated thinks there is a gourmet chef in all of us, and their program is designed to take the inconvenience out of culinary pursuits. It also came highly recommended from fellow DIR staffer Lacy Jaye Hansen.
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Survey your current subscriptions. Do any of them include food? If so, you may not be in the minority for much longer. Blue Apron, a Brooklyn-based meal kit start up, wants to ship you all of the ingredients you need for a fresh, healthy meal for less than the cost of your average takeout order – $10 per person.
Blue Apron meal “kits” are delivered once per week in a cold pack box with all the pre-portion ingredients for three meals. And we’re not talking chicken enchiladas every week. The company touts exotic ingredients and adventurous recipes, which come printed on clear recipe cards and require just 35 minutes on average. Meat and vegetarian options are available, and each meal contains between 500-700 calories per serving.
The $10 per person monthly subscription can be suspended (for vacations) and cancelled any time. A family of four would pay an average of $480 a month for the three meal delivery, but would still have to figure out meals the other four days of the week. Blue Apron tries to keep its meals as affordable as possible by buying in bulk and planning for meals on a seasonal basis.
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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.
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It’s been long established by now that fitness and weight loss goals are more successful when there’s accountability. Diet Chef, a UK-based company, is tapping in to that truth to help users lose more weight by encouraging them to do so with a partner. The program is called Diet Together.
Diet Chef is a calorie controlled food delivery diet program. They have been helping people lose weight through portion controlled meals that come delivered right to the home.
After a user fills out a profile, the experts at the company determine whether one should be on a 1,500 or 1,200 calories-per-day plan. Once the meals are selected, the perfectly portioned and calorie counted foods come to the door and users can begin eating healthy portioned foods to aid in their weight loss journey.
Since the program has seen so much success they wanted to up the game by offering a deal for users who sign up with a friend. Since partners seem to see even better results in a weight loss plan, Diet Together allows for friends and family to get a discount on Diet Chef food. The tailored program will encourage more “teams” to sign up and help each other accomplish their goals. All users have to do is place a second order on top of their own food order to receive 20% off both deliveries.
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Bistro MD is a home-delivery meal program designed for diet consumers who do not want to spend time counting calories or preparing food. The program was specially developed by a doctor, chef, and dietitian to ensure that each meal is nutritionally balanced and satisfying. Bistro MD believes in long-term results, so weight loss is likely to be within or just slightly over the recommended rates of 1-2 pounds lost per week.
One downside to this program is the price tag, with a daily price of at least $25 depending on which plan is chosen. Customers are paying for convenience with Bistro MD, as fresh meals purchased and prepared themselves would be far below the $25/day cost.
Bistro MD promises its foods are scientifically formulated as well as tasty for safe and effective weight loss. We had to know, does it live up to this claim? With our samples, dietitian insight, and our taste buds plenty hungry, we headed to the microwave to see how Bistro MD really stacks up.
Click through to see our in-depth Bistro MD Taste Test