Bariatric Review: Home Chef® Meals
“Fresh and Easy” from Home Chef® meals for low prep meals. Can it work for Bariatric patients?
Home Chef® and other meal kits for bariatric surgery patients
I have been on the hunt for meal kits that might work for Bariatric patients. Today we are talking about Home Chef® fresh and easy meals.
There is no doubt the meal kit industry has exploded. It was not long ago that I first heard of Blue Apron® and wondered if these boxes of ingredients and recipes sent to your door would become the next big thing.
Here we are today with more meal kit companies than my Google search results can bring back in a single page.
The questions is, can it work for weight loss surgery patients?
Herein lies my current project. Researching, ordering, cooking these meal kits to see if there is a viable option. Here is a link to my review of Freshly® meals and this is a link to my review for Hello Fresh®.
Thus far the meal kits are quite similar so the real difference lies in their options for lower carb (and fat) options for weight loss surgery. I would also add how easy the site is to navigate including how difficult it could be to cancel or skip meals.
Here is snapshot of the table I’ve started making with the pros and cons of the meal kits I’ve tried so far. (This list is not comprehensive. I have looked at some companies without ordering because it was clear they would not work. Factor® for example focuses on Keto meals and the fat content is 50-60 grams per meal which I cannot advise for post-ops. Martha Stewart’s Marley Spoon® was hard to find meals that felt suitable for calorie and carb conscious eaters.)
Look for coupons!
I mentioned that shipping is $14 for Home Chef® but wanted to follow up that comment with how easy it is to find coupons for each of these meal kit companies.
Often times the coupons are distributed over a few weeks of boxes. They will say the coupon is $60 off, however, that might translate to $20 off each of the first three boxes.
Home Chef® Fresh and Easy meal kits
Home Chef® has two meal kit styles. You can select the “Fresh and Easy” meals which are low or no prep meals, primarily that the veggies come diced.
For someone that enjoyed the process of cooking the meal you can instead select their traditional “Home Chef” box.
I ordered and tested the “Fresh and Easy” meals. I have to admit, it is super fun to pull out a bag of prepped ingredients and often times even a tray to cook it in!
This particular meal was Pork Mini Meatloaf in Rosee Suace with Roasted Broccoli and Bell Peppers.
My first delivery was scheduled for 10 days after my sign up. One drawback is that I didn’t get to see or pick my meals until after I put in payment information. In a world when you add things to your basket and then checkout, it feels funny to checkout and then select meals!
You CAN see a list of the meals when you go back to the home page and scroll all the way down to “See Full Menu.” You can then click the box that says “carb conscious” for meals that might be a better fit.
Home Chef ® Pricing and website
The website is pretty and easy to navigate.
One thing I notice was when I went to cancel my meals I was only able to pause the subscription. It looks as if I will need to call them to truly cancel the subscription instead of pausing.
This is something to pay attention to because it could easily get unpaused and you end up with a box of meals on your porch! I might know from experience and I have to admit, I wasn’t disappointed either.
At the time of my purchase I had a $20 discount off my first box. For three meals for two people my total was $43.93 which is just under $15 a meal or $7.50 a serving. You are certainly paying for convenience but with a coupon it feels comparable to ordering takeout.
Home Chef ® Meals and Bariatric Surgery Nutrition
You do have to dig a little bit to get the nutrition information but it’s not terribly hidden either.
If you are not logged in and have not made any purchase, you will scroll to the bottom of the home page until you get to the “view menu” option. You can change your diet preference. When you click on the image of the recipe you’ll see the nutrition card inside the recipe.
The carb conscious meals do skip the potatoes or rice or pasta which is a huge help but they still run high in the fat category.
You can make adjustments to reduce the fat content by not adding the butter packet to the veggies or by swapping a ground pork for a lower fat meat. There are some salad entrees you’d need to add chicken to for added protein (or purchase chicken on your own to have on hand).
You also know your pouch best. If you only need half of a serving of one of the meal kits you can see the nutrition shift and bring the fat down. Below is an example for “Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs with Sesame Green Beans.”
It looks and sounds bariatric friendly but here at the nutrition facts.
If we put that into a pie chart it would be 54% fat, 26% protein and 20% carb. Every program is different but my approach is to aim for 50% protein, 20% carb and 30% fat. (Here is a good research paper that supports those numbers).
Not that every meal needs to look like that.
I like to look at the end of the day, end of the week or end of the month to see if anything is surprising. This meal would likely spike up the fat of a pie chart for the day (and these numbers are common for most of the meals in the kits).
I mentioned maybe your pouch is full from half a serving. That wouldn’t change the percentages but it would bring down the grams. Let’s say you had a half of a serving for 18.5 grams protein, 14.5 grams carbohydrate and 17 grams fat but you kept your other meals of the day very lean (chicken breast and shaved deli meat instead of cheeses) you can makeup for the high fat meal.
And again, you can skip ingredients or substitute items that bring down fat and carbs. I was able to skip steps when it called for oil or butter. (My thought on this particular meal is that the ground turkey isn’t as lean as it could be and they add oil into the green beans and mayonnaise in the meatballs).
Other meals I tried included:
Parmesan and Red Pepper Crusted Chicken with Cauliflower and Tomatoes
Pork Mini Meatloaf in Rosee Sauce with Roasted Broccoli and Red Bell Pepper
Entrée Salad: Fig and Herbed Goat Cheese Salad with Pistaccio and Citris Dijon Vinagrette The salad had no protein and was an up-charge to add chicken ($1.99 per serving)
Home Chef meals can sometimes work for bariatric surgery patients.
I really liked the website and I can’t help but love the bags of pre-chopped ingredients in their own dish to cook it in. My life instantly felt easier when I opened the box!
The recipes do have a generous amount of fat. The meats aren’t always the leanest. Choices that use chicken instead of pork or beef can help. Skipping the steps with olive oil or butter will also help significantly.
Food journaling would be really helpful if you’re having these meals but this could be a bit time intensive to log the ingredients you did use and not the ones you skipped. You might save time on cooking but be putting more time into the journal to get an accurate idea of how the macros are working out.
Let me know what meal kits you are trying in the comments!