By Emily Timm MS, RDN, LDN, BC-ADM, CDE
Meal delivery services are becoming increasingly popular as our culture continues to value more efficient ways of living healthfully. Meal kits may be an innovative solution to cooking more and eating better. As Clinical Educators, we may encounter questions about these types of services as consumers look to us for nutrition guidance and expertise.*
The most obvious positive aspect to meal delivery service kits is the convenience factor. Your doorbell rings, a box of curated ingredients and hand-selected recipes appears, and you’re off! I’ve found the hardest part is sometimes unpackaging the items; there tends to be a lot of packaging as kits are designed with food safety in mind. Since meal kits are still relatively new and foods are shipped from all over the country, I hope that sourcing of local ingredients can be incorporated on a broad scale in the future.
What about the nutritional benefits of meal delivery kits? As a dietitian, I do feel these kits can encourage the average American to consume more vegetables, cook at home, and try new recipes. All of these are key elements of balanced, healthy eating that may be lacking in our culture due to reliance on convenience foods and a lack of cooking knowledge. From this perspective, meal kits may be a great solution to get more nutritionally balanced meals into American homes. Personally, I love receiving a meal kit with an ingredient I never cook with! It is fun to experience new flavors and bring those flavors into favorite recipes.
Although many of the patients I support through education appreciate the convenience of meal kits, I have had many say they stopped using these kits because they were either too time-consuming or expensive. A convenient and less expensive solution for consumers could be grocery delivery services. With grocery delivery, you save yourself the trip to the store, but you are still engaging in meal planning and stocking your pantry. This can be a much more affordable way to approach healthy eating. Plus, you can decide how much to cook and cook for leftovers if you wish! With meal kits, leftovers can be sparse.
Overall, as a Clinical Educator, I appreciate the effort being put into making healthy meals more convenient and accessible to consumers. I think that meal kits can be a good solution to more balanced, healthy eating for busy individuals and families. They also can be a fun option to renew creativity in cooking. However, many people cannot afford these kits on an ongoing basis. Luckily, companies often offer coupon codes to try their kits. As a Clinical Educator, I often encourage consumers to make their rounds and try kits using these coupon codes. They may connect with a kit that works for them and their health goals and decide to continue. If nothing else, they may walk away with a few new recipes and a renewed passion for healthy cooking!
As educators, we should aim to embrace innovation enthusiastically, but not every innovation works for every patient. By recognizing this, we can empower people to find the solutions that allow them to live their healthiest and best lives.
* Please note that people should always consult with their own healthcare provider before making any significant changes to their diet and exercise regimen.
Emily Timm is a Clinical Support Educator, who joined VMS BioMarketing in 2019. She is a registered dietitian nutritionist and a Certified Diabetes Educator®. She earned an MS in Public Health Nutrition from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and a BS in Nutrition from Case Western Reserve University.