Healthy Meals in Motion
Nutritious heat-and-eat meals deliver on convenience for people on the go.
Kristin Meyer of Mindful Meals dishes up the next delivery: Hawaiian pineapple chicken breast over yellow rice with asparagus.
Takeout is often the go-to for people living in the fast lane. But some local companies offer busy professionals, families and health enthusiasts alike an easy, nutritious alternative to the calorie-crammed temptation of takeout.
Blake and Kristin Meyer, founders of Mindful Meals in Orlando, worked out at a CrossFit gym where another company delivered meals. Kristin, a self-proclaimed foodie who grew up among chefs and restaurateurs, began to casually mention to her fitness friends the healthful meals she made at home. Her friends began to ask her for meals, and then they told others. That was in 2015.
“All of a sudden we had seven or eight customers. Now we have about 225 active customers,” Blake says. The company, which has expanded beyond the CrossFit community to serve families and the elderly, provides “healthy meals that are geared toward regular working people who don’t have time to cook and just want to eat healthy,” Meyer says.
His story echoes that of Collette Haw, founder of Longwood-based Collette’s Clean Eats, which was founded once word spread about her good and good-for-you meals. And like Mindful Meals, Haw’s company sources many products locally. “What we really specialize in is healthy comfort food,” says Haw, who trained at The Culinary Institute of America in New York.
Meals average 500 calories each, and Haw’s kitchen can accommodate special diets such as vegan or gluten-free. “I try to keep it interesting and change the menu so it doesn’t get boring,” Haw says.
Gabriel Santiago launched Fresh-N-Healthy Meals in Orlando in 2014 after he became frustrated with meal options as a customer of other companies. Fresh-N-Healthy Meals offers “dietitian-inspired and chef-created” entrées and free nutrition counseling. Speaking of his clients, he says, “They always get a dietitian and nutritionist on call. That way we can direct them to the right meal on the menu.”
John George, a travel executive, likes the meal variety available to his Ocoee family of five through Mindful Meals’ delivery service. “It keeps me from going to a restaurant where the food is more expensive and isn’t as good,” he explains.
Delivered meals from local companies range from $8.50 to $15 per meal, depending on the entrée, plus a flat delivery fee of $6.50 to about $10, which runs higher if you opt for home delivery vs. a central pickup site. Meals—which can include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, depending on the vendor—are typically delivered in coolers or with gel packs that keep the food at safe temperatures for several hours. Some companies offer twice-weekly delivery, and others deliver once a week.
Dietitian Megan Ware recommends doing your research before choosing a vendor. “Focus on where the carbs, protein and fat are coming from,” she says. An ideal meal includes a complex carbohydrate, a lean protein and a healthy fat such as avocado, olive oil or edamame, she says. Also, ensure your food is still at a safe temperature by testing it with a food thermometer upon pickup. “Bacteria grows the fastest in temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees, known as the danger zone,” she warns.
Says Marguerite Abel, a teaching nurse who is a customer of Fresh-N-Healthy Meals, “I consider it a luxury, but it is well worth it to have a healthy meal and not be stressed about coming home and cooking.”