From where I live, every time when I glimpse the stoops of my neighbors, I would probably see delicate boxes from Home Chef. The frequent appearances of these meal kit boxes make me wanna have a try, too.
Meal kit is really convenient. You just need to click the “order” button online; soon, a deliveryman will ring your doorbell and deliver you recipes and fresh, pre-measured ingredients. It saves your time for thinking about menus and preparing for food, but is it healthy enough?
To answer the question, researchers analyzed five popular meal kit companies in Australia — Dinnerly, HelloFresh, MarleySpoon, Pepper Leaf, and Thomas Farms Kitchen.
Key findings after analysis
1. They were high in salt
After randomly selecting 12 different meals from the five companies, the researchers found that all meals were high in salt. Specifically, the average daily salt content of the meals was 30% higher than recommendation. Salt content of the meals from HelloFresh even doubled the target.
2. They were high in fat
Another finding is that they were all high in fat. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that 25% to 35% of your daily calories should come from fat. But fat in kit meals contains 40% to 60%.
As for saturated fat, it is recommended to take less than 6.7g per serve. MarleySpoon and Pepper Leaf contained averagely 6g of saturated fat per serve, while Thomas Farms Kitchen contained 22g per serve.
3. The energy contents were too high for some people
Average adult needs about 2000 calories a day. The average energy contents per meal were around 700 calories, which is suitable for average adults. But the average energy contents of HelloFresh and Thomas Farms Kitchen per meal were around 950 calories.
"For people with lower energy requirements — for example people who are smaller, inactive or trying to manage their weight — these energy contents are too high," said co-author of the study Dr. Alice Gibson.
4. The dietary fiber content was enough for women but not for men
As for dietary fiber content, it could meet the needs of women, but failed to satisfy men. Besides, the dietary fiber content of Thomas Farms Kitchen meals was a little lower than other 4 companies.
5. They provided few whole grains
As for grain content, HelloFresh contained no whole grains. MarleySpoon contained 8%, Pepper Leaf 11%, and Thomas Farms 12%. Only Dinnerly contained 60%.
The United States Department of Agriculture and the American Dietetic Association suggest that you eat at least three servings of whole-grain foods daily.
6. They contained enough vegetables
Meal kits provided good amounts of vegetables, from 2.3 serves per meal to 3.1 serves per meal, which is an encouraging thing.
In a word, although meal kits are healthier than takeaways and fast food, they are still not healthy enough. Cooking by yourself is still the best choice.