Between grocery shopping, prepping ingredients and finding achievable recipes, making a healthy meal can feel as daunting as climbing Mount Everest with the Rules of Civil Procedure strapped to your back. I often daydream of the magic machine from The Jetsons, which spits out a pill designed to meet all my nutritional needs at the touch of a button.
But technology isn’t there yet, so a number of at-home meal-delivery services have popped up in Toronto to fill the gap. Each one promises to bring balanced, gourmet meals right to your door. To find out if such services deliver, my husband and I took one of them, Fuel Foods, for a test drive. (Disclaimer: Fuel Foods covered the cost of the trial, but had no editorial input.)
The facts: To start, I told Fuel Foods about our lifestyles and nutrition goals (with our winter wedding weeks away, that meant dropping those last few pounds). Then I filled them in on any allergies and what sorts of foods we liked. Based on our answers, Fuel Foods drew up a three-day trial meal plan. The next day, nine pre-portioned meals, in insulated bags, landed on our doorstep. So far? So Jetsons.
Supporting arguments: Each meal boasted its own blend of proteins, carbs and veggies or fruit. (We chose to include meat in our meals, but vegan options are available.) All of them were delicious — with the exception of the “protein breakfast pancake” that tasted akin to soggy cardboard. It was convenient and easy. We suddenly had some free time on our hands. (I’ll be honest: I mostly spent it scrolling through my “explore” page on Instagram.) And I knew the food wasn’t laden with extra calories and preservatives.
The counter: At first, I had a bit of “portion shock” when I encountered the romance-novel-sized meal containers. I was used
to meals twice that size. But once I got over my shock, I found the portions perfect. My husband, however, didn’t feel the same. Most meals packed about 375 calories, so he was often hungry. And on days when he worked out, he had to eat extra carbs and protein. But the biggest downside is the price. The cost of a meal plan varies, but a customizable plan costs between $204 and $360 a week. That’s far pricier than making food at home.
Final judgment: At the current price, subscribing to Fuel Foods all year long is pretty impractical. But it’s a decent short-term option to help you achieve a specific health or fitness goal, or to get through a challenging life period, such as caring for a newborn or dealing with a gruelling file. But take my advice and skip the pancakes.
This story is from our Spring 2016 issue.
Illustration by Alina Skyson