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Comparing healthy meal delivery services



For $10, a pedicab can take you and your friends down the street to the next bar. With a few clicks and swipes on your iPhone, Amazon will send you a book or a microwave.

These days, life is all about convenience.

This is especially true when it comes to food. The average American spent about $2,500 eating out in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. But a 2012 Gallup poll found that 77 percent of people surveyed said they ate at home the night before.

Such polls reveal more than just what we eat and where we like to eat it; for a few companies, they present an opportunity. From modPaleo and Good Kitchen to Backyard Produce, food delivery services — as in, companies that deliver prepared meals or grocery items to homes — have caught on in Charlotte. Aside from (sometimes) saving you money, these businesses also give you the gift of time that you'd otherwise spend shopping, prepping and cooking food and cleaning up the mess.

So, which is right for you?


If you know anything about the Paleolithic diet (Paleo for short), then you know eating and cooking Paleo can be challenging. The diet is based on the belief that people are at their optimal health if they eat like humans that roamed during the Paleolithic period, whose diets focused on meat, vegetables, fruit and natural healthy fats (like nuts and avocados), and excluded grains, dairy and processed sugar. In fact, all of Paleo's restrictions can make it difficult to follow.

After eating Paleo for several months with her husband Carter Lewis, Amber Lewis began preparing and packaging Paleo meals for friends. In January 2012, she and Carter decided to make "their lifestyle into a business," Amber says, and started modPaleo.

The meal plans range in price from "The Occasional Cook" package, which includes three meals for $41 a week, to the most expensive package, "The Anti-Cook," which includes 14 meals at $133 a week. Prices per meal range from $9.50 to $13.67 and are cheaper the larger the package a customer purchases.

Online sources claim that eating Paleo can cost the average American family about $500 more a month. However, followers of the diet claim that additional costs are offset by the reduced medical costs from the diet's health benefits.

"We're really doing all of the sourcing [i.e., grocery shopping and finding local products] for you and I think that's a big selling point," Amber says.

Cost comparison to Harris Teeter:
Meal for single person, including 6 oz. salmon, 1/4 pound peaches, 1/4 pound asparagus: $12.15 versus modPaleo's price of $9.50-$13.67

Good Kitchen

"Delivering healthy meals to busy families," is Good Kitchen's focus, says owner Greg McIntosh. McIntosh started the business in 2011 to provide families with hearty meals made with healthy ingredients, such as fresh meat, whole foods and seasonal produce from local gardens.

Meals cost $12 a person but are served in portions for two, four or six people. Membership for the service costs $19.95 a month, in addition to meal costs, which includes weekly delivery to customers' doorsteps, special discounts and other perks. "People sometime balk at the membership, but they're getting same-day delivery and unlimited delivery," McIntosh says.

Cost comparison to Harris Teeter:
Meal for single person, including 6 oz. pork tenderloin, 1/2 pound zucchini, 1/4 pound onions, 1 pound peaches, 2 ounces balsamic vinegar, 2 ounces pasta: $8.94 versus Good Kitchen's price of $12.00 (plus membership or delivery fee)

Backyard Produce

What if you enjoy cooking your own meals but find grocery shopping tedious? The owners of Backyard Produce, which specializes in delivering local groceries, consider their company an online farmers market.

The weekly service works on a point system, where points are purchased and then used to buy goods. The cheapest option, the 40-points package, is intended for a single person, costs $25 a week and can typically purchase seven products. The largest package is intended for a large family and costs $55 for 100 points, usually a 15-item order. Similar items may have different point values based on quality. For example, organic apples will cost more points than conventional apples. Membership is $15 a year.

"People feel like it's Christmas when they come home from work and there's food sitting on the doorstep," says Rob Figard, account manager for Backyard Produce.

Cost comparison to Harris Teeter:
Five items, including organic broccoli, organic strawberries, conventional tomatoes, organic romaine and conventional blueberries: $13.96 versus $27.50 (or 44 points) at Backyard Produce.

*Notes: Several benefits of meal delivery systems could not be monetized in these comparisons, including time spent menu planning, shopping and sourcing local ingredients, cooking, learning how to prepare similar meals, cleanup of utensils and dishes used during cooking. Price comparison to Harris Teeter is in-store shopping only.