By Louise Hart for GQ.
There are only six weeks left until summer, but you've made a game plan. You're hitting the gym twice a week, getting your heart rate up at least twice with cardio, and cutting back on happy hours and office birthday cakes. You're not quite ready to fast, but know what you eat needs an upgrade. And, inspired by Mark Bittman, you know you should eat "real" food, like the kind the grandma you wish you had cooked. You've also heard gluten-free, dairy-free, and organic. (Sorry, Grandma.) But maybe you fear eating like this will be a) time consuming, b) expensive, and/or c) unappetizing. Fortunately for you, there's a whole new world of healthy(ish) food-delivery services that won't break the bank.
Likely the one food delivery service you've heard of (especially if you have a girlfriend or wife in fashion), this company has been around since 2012 and is on track to deliver 40,000 meals monthly this year. Fifteen percent of Sakara Life's customers are male, including guys like Hugh Jackman, Bobby Flay, and Baltimore Ravens Defense End Lawrence Guy, who all subscribe to this plant-based, nutrient-dense, whole-food meal delivery program. "Mostly" organic and local when possible, the menu changes weekly (and seasonally) and is free of dairy, gluten, pesticides, chemicals, additives, preservatives, flavorings, and dyes. Three- or five-day orders can include just breakfast, lunch, or dinner, a combination of two, or all three, and a weekly subscription (at $69 a day) includes breakfast, lunch and dinner five days a week.
Foodies like Aziz Ansari and restaurateur Danny Meyer count themselves as Indie Fresh subscribers. National orders ship the next day, and immediate delivery is available in Manhattan. The company was founded in 2014, and everything on the menu is gluten-, dairy-, and sugar-free. Arguably my favorite of the services, menu highlights included broccoli, coconut, and hemp soup, avocado smoothie, and cauliflower quinoa ghobi. Order items a la carte ($6-13 for soups, mashes, salads, or smoothies) or try a program (such as the shake and soup one for $46/day).
Because we consider these smoothies perfect for breakfast, we included Daily Harvest in our round up. Those living on the Eastern and Western thirds of the US can order these flash-frozen, ready-to-blend smoothie mixes made from a variety of fruits, vegetables and superfoods picked at the peak of ripeness and packed in pre-portioned cups. Just add your liquid of choice and you're done. The ingredients are organic and non-GMO whenever possible, superfoods like wheatgrass and flax seed will ensure you feel virtuous downing them, and tasty add-ins like nut butters make them delicious. Choose from 14 flavors (complete with nutrition facts), the number of smoothies per delivery (6, 12, or 18), and the delivery frequency (once a week, every two weeks, or every four weeks). Founded in September 2015, 40 percent of buyers are male.
LA, SAN FRANCISCO, SEATTLE, AND NYC DELIVERY
The brainchild of Vietnamese refugee Tri Tran, this easy-to-navigate San Francisco company from way back in 2010 allows residences of NYC, Seattle, Los Angeles, and the SF Bay Area to filter the day's menu (by vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc) and lists ingredients and nutrition facts. Order for the same day, the next day, or even a few days out and select a delivery window. For those in NY or LA, try the On-Demand Delivery meals that arrive within 20-40 minutes. Same day options sell out quickly, but the like any great e-commerce site, you can see exactly how many orders of, say, the Steak Diane are available. Prices range between $5-$15 for snacks, sides, entrees and desserts, and delivery fees range from $2.95 to $4.50.
LOS ANGELES, SAN FRANCISCO, SAN DIEGO AND SANTA BARBARA DELIVERY
Fitness Kitchen LA
Nick Carter and Jeremy Piven are subscribers of this 4-year-old chef-prepared meal delivery service. It offers three plans to choose from based on health and fitness goals: "Trim," "Maintain," and "Train." Each plan includes four meals per day and costs $45/day. A la carte options are also available for order or to purchase at select grocery and health food retailers in LA.
SAN FRANCISCO, PALO ALTO, CHICAGO
Founded in 2013, this mobile app lets users order lunch and dinner of a limited, chef-driven menu. (In fact, a few members of the Golden State Warriors members order Sprig under aliases.) President Obama's former chef Sam Kass provided nutritional guidance and guest chefs (including Stuart Bioza of State Bird Provisions, Tim Archuleta of Ichi, and Cortney Burns and Nick Ball of Bar Tartine) have showcased the family-friendly dishes they eat when not at work. Meal descriptions like "Clean" (fewer calories), "Fuel" (packed with 30 grams of protein), and "Balance" (you guessed it, balanced) all feature organic food made in house.
CHICAGO, PHILADELPHIA, AUSTIN, DALLAS, AND HOUSTON
This Austin, Texax-based company specializing in prepared foods aimed at health-conscious customers opened its first shop in 2010. Ninety-nine percent of the menu of this healthy market-meets-takeout concept, whose logo is "meals on the go -- breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between," is gluten-free, with plenty of vegetarian, vegan, Paleo, dairy-free, and carb- and sodium-conscious items. Delivery is available via UberEATS, Amazon, Favor, or PostMates. Many of the meals are available in three sizes, and Snap Kitchen's food is based on a 1,800-calorie lifestyle for men (three large sized Snap meals and two snacks per day).
The menu changes weekly at this Chicago food delivery site that opened just over a year ago. Order up to a week's worth of chilled, ready to reheat meals at once, plus with each meal purchased, one is given through a local Chicago food bank to someone who needs it. The ingredients are local, organic and cruelty-free, and the company uses recycled packaging, reusable delivery bags, and environmentally friendly products.
GREATER NY AREA
Founded in 2013, this Brooklyn-based organic meal delivery service offers entirely from-scratch cooking made with non-processed whole-food ingredients. The menu is gluten- and dairy-free, the meat is 100 percent grass-fed and pasture-raised, and fish is either wild or sustainably farmed. (Of course, everything is local and organic when possible.) The mix of snacks, breakfasts, lunches and dinners are suitable for vegetarians, vegans, and Paleos alike. A la carte pricing ranges from $7 to $28 for sides, soups, salads, and entrees, plus delivery ($4.99-$14.99) or choose a bundle starting at $99, and save 15% for subscribing. Bundle options include a Detox box with three clean, plant-based meals a day for one, three, five, or 20 days; a Chef's Meals bundle featuring four entrees, two salads or soups and two breakfasts/snacks; or a Juice + Food Cleanse with four juices, one vegan meal, and one broth. Right now, delivery is limited to Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, parts of the Bronx and New Jersey, but later this year, they plan to expand to the entire tri-state area and ship select items to the rest of the US.
NEW YORK CITY
Nourish Kitchen + Table
Nearly two years after Nourish Kitchen + Table, a seasonally-influenced, locally-inspired brick-and-mortar shop and café opened in New York's West Village, the founder, a registered dietician, started offering Curated Cleanse, a tailored program combining one-on-one sessions with clients and the food of Nourish Kitchen + Table. The meat is locally sourced, the seafood is local, and much of the food is gluten-free and dairy-free, but you won't feel deprived with food like market vegetable frittata, grass-fed flank steak, and spiced-rubbed Amish roast chicken. Twenty-five percent of Nourish's clients are male, including Nourish's own executive chef, Russell Yows (who has lost over 30 pounds since joining the company last spring). If you live in NYC and aren't ready to commit to a personalized session, order the food from TryCaviar or Postmates.
If you work in lower Manhattan, you've likely seen the iconic Maple bags in your building lobby or on a co-worker's desk. Less than a year old, the food delivery startup backed by David Chang and Le Bernardin vet Soa Davies is currently limited to lower Manhattan but hint that "a lot of people will see a lot more of Maple in 2016". The service delivers affordable lunch and dinner options ($12 and $15, with tax, tip, and delivery include) within 30 minutes, and slightly less than half of Maple's total customers are male. Ingredients are sourced from local, high quality purveyors and each menu offers a vegetarian choice.
Founded in 2009, this NYC-based meal service prepares meals ready to heat on the spot. A full day's menu will set you back $92 (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks), plus a $22 delivery fee for Manhattan and several neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. The produce is organic and meat is hormone-free. 40% of clients are male.
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