Ask most people what the biggest detriment to eating right is, and they’ll tell you that it’s time. Time to shop for food, time to cook, time to measure out the right portions, macros, calories, and so on… So it’s no surprise that meal prep services are in high demand these days. For those trying to eat a little healthier, there’s no shortage of options (for example these big-name subscription boxes, as well as these lesser-known ones).
But what if you’re working towards a specific fitness goal — whether it’s getting stronger, leaner, faster, or all of the above? Your choices narrow greatly. So we went on the hunt for meal prep and meal delivery services geared specifically towards athletes and their unique nutritional needs. Most of the companies below deliver nationwide, and all the meals we tested come fully cooked and ready to heat and eat. That means more time to crush your workouts and get enough zzz’s.
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5 Athlete-Approved Meal Delivery Services
1. Ice Age Meals
Perfect for: Busy athletes who want a few meals in the freezer
Ice Age Meals cater to paleo– and Zone-friendly diets. They feature minimal ingredient lists (all dairy-free, gluten-free and non-GMO) and high-quality meats (like grass-fed organic beef). True to its name, each Ice Age Meal comes frozen solid, giving it a much longer shelf life than any other company in this list. That means you’ll always have a healthy back-up plan ready to roll. Bonus: When you do have time to cook, Ice Age Meals’ head “Culinary Ninja” posts recipes and cooking videos to help you step up your skills.
Meals come in bulk purchases of 14 ($165), 24 ($275) or 64 ($530), with 18 meals to choose from (all of which are either paleo or paleo with rice). Each microwaveable dish is around 500 calories and four blocks according to the Zone Diet, with a pretty even protein to carbohydrate ratio and around 10 grams of fat. (Exceptions include the paleo and rice options, which are higher in carbs.)
Dishes we loved: Don’t pass up the Pastel de Papa (a paleo shepherd’s pie with beef, tomatoes, onions, raisins and hard-boiled eggs — topped with mashed sweet potatoes). The flavorful braises and sauces are a win across the board. Plus, the hearty meat portions will also hit the spot after a tough workout.
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Photo courtesy of Trifecta
2. Trifecta Nutrition
Best for: The athlete with a plan
If you need a meal plan that goes the distance (so you can, too), Trifecta Nutrition’s got your back. They offer meal plans in several categories: paleo, clean eating (minimally processed foods, whole grains, vegetables and lean protein), vegetarian and vegan. You’ll also have a classic meal option that boasts a perfect balance of lean protein, carbs and veggies (four ounces each). No matter your choice, everything is organic, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free and non-GMO.
If the pre-set plans aren’t quite right, opt for bulk meals to mix and match. Feeling less restrictive? Go a la carte to suit your fancy. Meals arrive weekly, starting at just over $100 per week. (If you go with the bulk items option, you can spend a bit less). The servings come fully cooked and vacuum-sealed — we had our week of meals portioned out and prepared within minutes after delivery.
Dishes we loved: From the a la carte option, we tried the flat iron steak, salmon, sweet potatoes and asparagus. The salmon was flaky and light and the steak was savory and tender. Plus, each meal was dialed down to my specific meal plan (I personally use RP Strength), making this the perfect option for the nutritional control freak.
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Photo courtesy of Paleo Power Meals
3. Paleo Power Meals
Perfect for: Paleo eaters who want variety
Paleo Power Meals takes the term seriously, even down to the way it sources its meat. That means cage-free eggs, wild-caught fish, antibiotic-free chicken and grass-fed beef make up the base of the meals. On-the-go athletes will appreciate that each dish comes fresh and ready to eat in individual tupperware. Plus, PPM ships nationwide and to select CrossfFit gyms, so you can WOD-and-go.
Customers can choose from 11 different bulk menu items or mix and match the 38 breakfasts, lunches, dinners and sides. The meals range from $8 to $15 and minimum order is just $25, making this a great option for people who don’t want to spend a lot of money. The meals are usually around 400 calories, heavy on the protein, lighter on the carbohydrates and fat.
Dishes we loved: All things breakfast. We wouldn’t mind eating the sweet potato pancakes and bacon-and-egg muffins every morning (plus they’re great grab-and-go options). Other highlights include the Spaghetti Squash Bolognese — be prepared to lick the sauce off the lid on this one.
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Photo courtesy of Pete’s Paleo
4. Pete’s Paleo
Best for: The adventurous eater (and the bacon aficionado)
If variety is your favorite spice, Pete’s Paleo has you covered. The ever-rotating menu features fresh, flavorful meals with unexpected ingredients (oh hey, parsnip). The seasonal components are subject to change based on what their farmers are harvesting that week. Here’s how it works: Users place their order of five ($123), 10 ($189), 14 ($249), 20 ($324) or 10 vegetarian ($129) meals by Monday night, and farmers harvest and deliver the produce that day. Then, the chefs get cooking and Pete’s delivers your order by Friday. Everything is non-GMO, gluten-, dairy- and soy-free, grass-fed and pastured. Meals are a bit higher in calories than the others on this list, usually in the 500 to 600 calorie range, and heavy on the protein.
Dishes we loved: Out of the four meals we tried, there were two foods this writer had never tried before (parsnip, meet radicchio). We also sampled two of their other offerings: bone broth and paleo bacon. The broth was savory and satisfying (like chicken noodle soup without the chicken or the noodles), but the bacon was unreal: meaty, flavorful and juicy. It’s cured (instead of brined) so it doesn’t shrink in the pan. It even comes in an unsliced slab so you can make it as thick or thin as you want. Did we mention it’s basically the best bacon we’ve ever tasted? Yes, ever.
RELATED: 7 Quick and Easy Paleo Pancake Recipes
Photo courtesy of Underground Prep
5. Underground Prep
Best for: Fit-minded foodies
Underground Prep’s chef Justin Aquino is a Cordon Bleu-educated chef best known for his work at Mastro’s in Beverly Hills. Translation: Fit foodies are in luck. Think: Honey sriracha chicken with zucchini noodles and black sesame, and BBQ meatballs with grass-fed ground beef, sautéed red bell peppers and onions.
The meals are all gluten-, dairy-, sugar- and soy-free and non-GMO, featuring hormone-free meat and farm-fresh, seasonal produce. Each one is between 400 and 450 calories, with roughly 30 grams of protein, 25 to 30 grams of carbs and 7 to 12 grams of fat. Customers can sign up for a weekly menu delivery via text every Wednesday, and have until Thursday evening to respond with their orders. The average cost per meal is $9, with a minimum of 10 meals per home delivery. (There’s no minimum if you have them delivered to a local participating gym.) Underground Prep currently only services Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego, but they plan to expand to more cities nationwide by end of the year.
Dishes we loved: All of ’em, thanks to Chef Aquino’s ability to make comfort food fit your macros. And we don’t just mean swapping sweet potatoes in your mash. Imagine athlete-approved meatballs and animal fries made with lean meats and paleo versions of sweet, savory and spicy sauces.
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