You can’t underestimate the value of convenience – especially when it comes to weight loss or healthy eating.
That’s why meal delivery services – the ones that deliver ready-to-eat meals straight to your door – are so great. Heat them up or just pull them out of your fridge, and you’re ready to go. Minimal time and effort required.Unfortunately, though, that no-effort approach means that you don’t actually learn how to add or keep off the weight long term. “It’s robotic. You think, ‘as long as I eat what they send me, I’ll eat healthy. I’ll lose weight,'” explains registered dietitian Wesley Delbridge, spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “But at some point, you are going to have to cook.”
For instance, research from Johns Hopkins University shows that people who regularly cook eat healthier foods and consume fewer daily calories even if they aren’t trying to lose weight. What’s more, they eat healthier when they dine out at restaurants . Impressive, right? But in a time when all of us are strapped for, well, time, why is cooking your own meals so important? Because, apart from making healthy eating sustainable (let’s face it, those meal delivery services are pricey), cooking teaches you what healthy food choices look like and how to be in charge of your own nutrition, says registered dietitian Laura Cipullo, owner of Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services in New York City.
Plus, 2016 research published in Health Psychology shows that we simply enjoy foods more if we’ve prepared them ourselves. In the study, researchers at the University of Cologne in Zurich found that when people cooked their own healthy shakes, they rated them as tastier than the same ones prepared by others. According the study authors, that may be partly because the harder we work, the more we enjoy the fruits of our labor.What’s more, cooking increases your meal’s health salience – or how obviously healthy it is to you – which is an important part of meal satisfaction when you’re trying to eat healthy, according to researchers. Basically, if your recipe lists a bunch of healthy ingredients, you’re going to be happy – and happy with your work in the kitchen. The result: Your meals taste even better to you than they would otherwise. And healthy eating becomes much more doable in the long term.
Is There a Meal Delivery Service for That?
Luckily, yes. As research increasingly backs up that whole “you can give a man a fish or teach him to fish” theory and how it plays out in the kitchen, more and more companies are offering up ingredient-delivery (versus meal-delivery) services.For instance, companies like FreshRealm, Hello Fresh , Blue Apple and Plated allow aspiring home chefs to pick out the healthy meals they want to cook, and then they ship prepped ingredients along with full recipes to their doors. Purple Carrot specializes in super-creative vegan recipes, and PeachDish is all about southern favorites made healthier. Location-specific ingredient-delivery services focus on locally sourced foods.
Obviously, there are plenty of ingredient-delivery options out there. And just like traditional meal-delivery services, while they aren’t the solution to everyday eating for the rest of your life, they stand out in their ability to help teach you how to eat – and cook – from here on out, Cipullo says. After all, with these services, you are the one choosing your meals, sautéing, baking and grilling them as well as portioning them out for y. (No more eating your own “special” meal while your spouse and child eat something else.)It’s also important to remember that these companies pack their deliveries full of fruits, vegetables and spices that you might never pick up from the supermarket when left to your own devices, Delbridge says. Star fruit? Swiss chard? Curry? You’re going to learn how to use all of them! Over time, you build up a nice stash of go-to recipes, develop cooking skills and confidence in the kitchen, and learn how to tailor recipes to fit your needs or simply create new dishes on the fly.Because for any healthy eating strategy to stick, it needs to end with you cooking the healthy meals you love.