How Meal Delivery Services May Destress Your Military Life

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I have always loved cooking. My kitchen is my favorite place in my house and I love the whole ceremony around shopping, prepping, and the actual act of cooking. But when life gets busy, cooking goes from a time of day I look forward to, to one of dread and frustration.

In August of 2016 I started my own company, at almost the same time that InDependent was in the planning process of the Military Spouse Wellness Summit. To say I was overloaded with work was an understatement. My husband’s daily 6pm phone call of “I’m on my way home” would often be followed with me scrambling to make something or a mad last minute rush out to the grocery store. It would often be the same problem with breakfast - rising at 4:30am with my husband to throw together some form of a decent packed lunch for him while he scarfed down some granola - which he only had time for maybe two days of the week. Put that together with our constant desire to eat only healthy, organic food and meal time had turned into one of stress and frustration.

I knew about meal delivery services that delivered the ingredients to your door and you cook the enclosed recipe, but I hadn’t known much about companies that actually deliver prepared meals that just have to be heated up. I especially didn't know about any that provided organic, dairy-free, and grain-free options. So when the company Ion Nutrition [1] was introduced to me, I decided to try out a week of food with the company to see if it would lift the stress of having to get a decent, healthy meal on the table when time would be limited. They offer pre-prepared meals that are organic and are either high protein, low carb, paleo, or vegetarian. All except the vegetarian meal plans are gluten-free.

I was first impressed with the speed the meals arrived - within two days, and they included two cooling packs in the insulated box. We received six meals: two lunches, two breakfasts, and two dinners.

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I immediately knew I would be sending the dinners and breakfasts off with my husband so he’d have something healthy to eat after PT and once he got to work. Those 4:30 am wakeups for us are always a weird time to be making breakfast. I’m half asleep and he’s in a rush. Unless he's making his own breakfast while I’m making his lunch, he’d either not eat, or eat fast food on base. I quickly realized early on that sending him off with the meals removed some of the daily stress in the kitchen so I actually felt more refreshed and excited to make one big dinner each night.

On Day 1 I had a lunch meal: Parsley Cauliflower Brown Rice Meal with Chicken Breast. You can see below the packaging, the ingredients list, and what it looked like once heated and plated.

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I used the stovetop instructions for reheating the meal. I was pleasantly surprised - It was delicious and a perfect sized portion for me. Plus, it was a nice departure from my usual tuna salad or soup lunch.

This actually turned out to be the only meal I actually kept for myself. I found it more important and easier to send the meals off with my husband. I know I eat well, but this makes the question as to whether he had healthy food options at work a non-issue.

Here’s what he had and his responses for the remainder of the week. He used the microwave instructions on the packet for preparation.

Breakfast Day 1: Granola

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The first day I sent my husband off with the granola for breakfast. It was exactly what he eats at home for breakfast most days, so it was nice not to have to prepare it. He just popped it in the microwave and had breakfast in his office after PT. He was happy with the taste and the portion.

Lunch Day 1:Orange Sesame Salmon Bowl

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He enjoyed the accompanying cauliflower mix, but wasn’t a fan of the consistency of the salmon. The microwaving might have been the reason as to the tough texture.

Breakfast Day 2:Hard Boiled Egg and Hash

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The hash was really good, but the egg unfortunately didn't heat up in the microwave well, so it came out tasting rubbery.

He didn't need Lunch on Day 2 or breakfast on Day 3.

Lunch Day 3:Balsamic Spinach Yams with Beef Patties

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This was probably his favorite meal other than the granola. The meat reheated well and he liked the combination of the spices with both the yams and the beef. He is a pretty traditional guy when it comes to burgers, so his one comment was “It would have been nice to have a bun.” Guess he didn't get the “gluten-free” memo.

Lunch Day 4:Sesame Shrimp and Cabbage

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The shrimp suffered the same fate of the salmon and the egg - the reheating in a microwave didn't give the ingredient justice. The cabbage reheated fine and he only had to add a little salt for taste.

So in summary, and after talking to my husband, here’s my thoughts on not just Ion Nutrition, but meal delivery services overall, including whether I would use the service again (points specific to Ion Nutrition are noted with an *)

Pros:

  • Meals make planning a cinch
  • Perfect for military members with usually little to no healthy options on base
  • Quick delivery time*
  • Great for time crunched, health-conscious families
  • Simple, organic ingredients list*
  • Easy to reheat instructions with no prep time*
  • Small, American-owned company*
  • Ability to choose from either specific meals or specific meal-plans*
  • Also offer bulk meal options*
  • Great portion sizes for the average daily caloric demand.*

Cons:

  • If you’re a protein-lover, you may be disappointed with the consistency of the reheated protein if you use a microwave. Stove-heated protein seemed to turn out fine.*
  • Is expensive (my package was roughly $12/meal for 6 meals, so $72 including delivery)*
  • May not be enough food for those with more daily caloric demands *

In hindsight, I think we would use this meal service again only for breakfast and lunch for my husband, but maybe only selecting the vegetarian options for him and supplementing it with any leftover protein we had in the fridge. But my husband loved that he wasn’t getting my usual sad cold cut sandwich for lunch and I loved that I wasn't trying to make meals at 4:30am, yet my husband was still eating well. This is a great option that I would suggest trying out to see if it suits your family.

Have you ever used a meal delivery service? If yes, what did you think? If no, would you ever consider using one?

[1] Product shown in this post was provided for free in return for honest review on InDependent. InDependent is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are the author’s own and not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates in any way.