You may have seen a healthy meal prep company somewhere in your area, your town, city or even online and across social platforms. Which makes perfect sense in a society where health and well-being is on a spiralling upward trend and a market value in the UK to match [(1)]
However, this doesn’t necessarily make their food healthy, nutritious and all-round good. With a magnitude of these companies claiming ‘healthy, clean, nutritious’ what’s their credibility, is this really true or simply misleading the general public.
Whilst there are no set out definitions for this terminology, I believe they all fall underneath the umbrella term ‘good nutrition’. The World Health Organisation outlines;
‘Nutrition is the intake of food, considered in relation to the body’s dietary needs. Good nutrition – an adequate, well balanced diet combined with regular physical activity – is a cornerstone of good health. Poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired physical and mental development, and reduced productivity.’ [(2)]
Having reviewed several ‘healthy meal prep’ companies in Liverpool and the North West I found few that adhere to this whilst in contradiction, claim healthy. Many focus around the stereotypical rice, chicken and vegetables (mainly broccoli). Whilst these are healthy foods, they contain a tiny subset of nutrients that a more varied and balanced diet would contain.
Something highly questionable to me is the presence of bagels, burgers and deep-fried varieties of fries and chicken that genuinely have poor nutritional value and are often calorie-dense. If you’re looking for a healthy nutritious meal plan, these are the companies I would avoid.
Top tips for identifying a quality healthy meal prep company
Tip 1. Credibility – Who is involved in the company and what is their knowledge in the area. Do they have experience or accreditation in the area of health and nutrition? Take a look at their website and social platforms, if they do you should find them talking about it there.
Tip 2. Check the label – All pre-packed food requires a food label that displays certain mandatory information including; the name of the food, list of ingredients, allergens, us by date and nutritional declaration [(3)] to just name a few. lookout for companies with a full food label, again this will add to their credibility.
Tip 3. Nutritional information – This one speaks for itself. It’s a healthy nutritious product, right? So it must have the nutritional information on the product for me. If not, available on the website at a minimum.
Tip 4. Have a look at the food (food quality) – take a few minutes before you commit to having a look at the food. A quick search on their website or social media should explode with eye-catching colourful healthy foods.
Tip 5. Are they registered with a food authority (hygiene rating) – All food businesses must be registered with a local authority to ensure the production and sale of safe food by law [(4)]. A quick look on the food hygiene ratings located on the food standard agency will let you know if they are registered will even give you a 1-5-star rating.
Providing the meal prep passes the first 5 tests then you will find a range of benefits including...
Benefits of Healthy Meal Prep
1. It saves time – this goes without saying, convenience is a huge factor when it comes to a meal prep company. They prepare your meals for you, pre-package them and deliver. That means time saved on planning, food shopping, cooking and cleaning.
2. It’s not as expensive as you think – If you add up the cost and time of doing a food shop, prepping, cooking and cleaning then the price of meal prep doesn’t seem all too expensive anymore. If you factor into that, running to the subway for your lunch on your break would cost on average between £5-7 that’s £25-35 for just Monday – Friday.
3. Chef prepared and portion control – meals are freshly prepared by professional chefs and weighed out into separate portions. Meaning you’re going to get high quality food that helps with portion control.
4. Healthy & Nutritious - Meals are designed to be well balanced and packed full of the nutrients you need to function whilst being low in unnecessary fats and added sugars. A good company will have sourced fresh quality ingredients locally.
5. Tailored specifically to meet your health goals – A small number of meal prep companies such as KO Nutrition will design your plan with industry experts, and are based off your age, gender, body weight, activity level health goal.
The bottom line / Take home message
Healthy meal prep is convenient, nutritious and tasty which will help to improve your health and achieve your fitness goals. However, that is dependent on the credibility of the company and their specialist expertise in the industry.
As a Nutritionist I’m passionate about making the healthy choice also an easy choice… that’s why here at KO all our meals have full UK labels with nutritional breakdown and ingredient list. Our meals are designed healthy, balanced and nutritious whilst our head development chef keeps them innovative and full of flavour.
Author Kallum Richardson | Registered Associate Nutritionist |MSc Public Health and Nutrition
1 Ian Tiseo (2019) Health and wellness market value in the United Kingdom 2015-2020 [Online], Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/491348/health-and-wellness-united-kingdom-uk-market-value/ [Accessed:16/09/2019]
2 World Health Organisation (2019) Health topics, Nutrition [Online], Available at: https://www.who.int/topics/nutrition/en/ [Accessed:16/09/2019]
3 Food Standards Agency (2018) Packaging and labelling [online] Available at: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/packaging-and-labelling [Accessed:16/09/2019]
4 Food Standards Agency (2018) Food Standards Act 1999 [Online], Available at: https://www.food.gov.uk/about-us/key-regulations[Accessed:16/09/2019]