After Rigorous Testing, These Are The 5 Best Meal Prep Services In SA
Take the stress out of nailing your nutrition plan with our authoritative pick of SA’s best meal prep services.
Winter is here and if you want to realise your ambition of uncovering your abs before you reach the departures lounge in summer (we’re hopeful, okay?), you need to double your efforts in the kitchen in colder months. Or, better still, halve them – by getting somebody else to do the hard work for you.
Granted, meal prep services are pricier than battling the Sunday queues in Woolworths, but they bring healthy food straight to your door in the form of simple recipe boxes or zero-effort packaged meals. Some are designed for holistic health, with a focus on organic or purely vegan ingredients, while others target people who are training hard. But all of them will help you to look and feel better in a matter of weeks, which is a priceless commodity.
A few months ago, we filled the fridges of the MH team and asked them to look beyond the shiny branding to chew through the typical nutritional content of each service and the enjoyability and ease of use that can really make a difference. Hungry for progress? Put your feet up and tuck in.
Ease of Use: 8/10
UCOOK is the brand that made meal prep mainstream and sent brown boxes into kitchens all over South Africa. Their neatly packed boxes come with a variety of recipes that usually take between 30 and 45 minutes to prepare. It’s ideal for a busy man who is keen to do more in the kitchen but considers health and taste to be mutually exclusive. You have three types of meals; health nut, easy peasy and vegetarian. Note: some recipes are more challenging than others but you’ll level up in the process.
MH Verdict: ”This is one of the easiest ways to gain new skills, short of going to a cooking class. It took me out of my cooking comfort zone without the dirty dishes or disasters.” – Robert Cilliers, Editor and Creative Director
Daily Dish: 86/100
Ease of Use: 10/10
Daily Dish suits those with just enough time to cook from scratch. Each meal is organised separately and, apart from the meat and vegetables, the ingredients come measured out and ready to cook. This meal prep option was a firm favourite of the MH team and saw staff members sending instagram-worthy pictures of their culinary creations to our Whatsapp group. Plus, it’s so easy that the full-flavoured and delicious dishes you create are almost a surprise.
MH Verdict: ”What I loved most about Daily Dish was that the recipe read as simple but was packed with flavour… So simple, in fact, that my daughters kicked off the cooking in my absence, so things were on the make by the time I got home from work. Dream team, that.” – Danielle Weakley, Editorial Director
We Are Food: 80/100
Ease of Use: 7/10
These hearty, defrost-heat-and-eat ready meals sit at the lifestyle end of the healthy-eating spectrum. They offer a simple way to inject homemade meals (without actually making it at home) into your plan. Plus, if you’re curious about flexitarianism or veganism they have some great options.
MH Verdict: “We Are Food’s range of frozen meals are taking those “TV dinners” to the next level. And it’s not just about simplifying the Sunday meal prep, having healthy bites on hand will have you reaching for the freezer instead of the takeaway menu. The low-carb value pack includes 23 meals (such as Paneer Butter Masala and Country Chicken Bake) for R1 510. That works out to R65 per meal. Our verdict: worth it.” – Kieran Legg, Contributing Editor
Daily Dietitian: 83/100
Ease of Use: 10/10
This ready-to-eat meal service (where each meal comes with a snack) is focused on nutrition, health, and, most importantly, taking all the thinking out of hitting your goals. You first fill out a questionnaire about your goals, weight, dietary restrictions etc. and then a dietitian plans meals based on that. Each delivery arrives in portioned containers personalised for you, so all you have to do is heat when hungry.
MH Verdict: “This service is a clueless goal chaser’s dream. Although it is the priciest option, each meal comes with a snack. The food was tasty but the real winner was seeing the portion sizes I should be eating for my goals. Turns out I was over-eating.” – Kelleigh Korevaar, Managing Editor
Ease of Use: 8/10
They’re one of the leaders in clean-eating and don’t compromise on quality, fresh ingredients. FitChef offers enough meal kits that you’re bound to find something to suit you, from 21 day challenges and juice cleanses to sports performance and vegan and vegetarian kits. Or you can select your own meals, smoothies, snacks and drinks to fill your fridge and freeze.
MH Verdict: “What really set FitChef apart for me is the variety and the flavour they manage to pack into a meal. Frozen food tends to lose a lot of its flavour and therefore has a bad rep, but not FitChef. And as for the beetroot brownie? I’ll definitely be ordering that again.” – Megan Flemmit, Health & Wellness Editor
Food For Thought
These two meal prep services we tested are also worthy of your fridge space.
Pop the individual servings in the microwave straight from the freezer and you’ll have a nutritious meal in just over three minutes. No mess or cleaning up necessary.
You’ll feed both your muscles and your general health with these dishes. All of their meals are prepared fresh and delivered daily. Plus, they don’t cook in bulk, the cook for the individual.