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Healthy prepackaged meal joints springing up... any comments?

Saw in the forklore blog at austin360.com that a place called My Fit Foods is opening up near me on North Lamar Blvd. A week or so ago, I saw another place open up just like this. A google search also turned up Tasty Healthy Meals. The My Fit Foods, and the other place who's name I cannot recall had similar modus operandi: You consult with a "nutrition expert" and formulate a plan of foods to eat. And you buy their food.

The menu I looked over had lots of turkey and quinoa, whole wheat. The latest foods understood to be healthy...

Both places preached a 21 day plan, commenting that it takes 21 days to form a habit. They offer "healthy" eating options and weight loss options. The food choices look interesting and certainly 7 or 8 steps above Nutrisystem for dieters and wanna be dieters (like myself).

Given how much I spend on fast food and groceries, the prices are only slightly more than I'm spending right now.

Does anyone on the board have any prior experience with these services? Any comments would be appreciated.

Edited to add a link to My Fit Foods: http://www.myfitfoods.com/

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  1. i do not have any personal experience but wanted to chime in with two observations:
    1. a lot of the daily deal sites (groupon, livingsocial, etc.) have had these places as a deal once or twice
    2. i just read a NYT article about this trend in general, so it's definitely popular nationwide-- http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/05/din...

    1. I went to a place like this last week. I can't remember the name but it's on W. 6th where Sparks used to be (near Amy's and Waterloo Records).

      They had breakfast, lunch and dinner options. I was told they were all created by a nutritionist. When I asked for the ingredients of a few items I was told they could call the nutritionist and find out. I thought that was kind of lame. Seems like they could keep a binder with all the items and their ingredients along with all nutritional info.

      I paid about $6.50 for a small package of spaghetti squash with marinera sauce. I didn't have them call the nutritionist but I probably should've. When I opened it I realized that it had black beans in it. I'm not a huge bean fan. I did eat it and it was bland, but good enough. $6.50 is about what i pay for my lunch at Whole Foods.

      I wasn't very impressed and I doubt I'll go by again.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chispa_c

        Yes Snap Kitchen is where I went. Here is a blurb from the Austin Chronicle:

        Former Hous­ton restaurateur Martin Berson is bringing a new food concept to the Austin market with two Snap Kitchen outlets (4616 Triangle #200, 459-9000; 1014 W. Sixth, 479-5959, www.snapkitchen.com). The stores offer freshly prepared, nutritionally balanced foods, packed in single-serving portions. The dishes are developed by dietician Andrea Hinsdale and prepared by chef Ethan Holmes, with options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and dessert, plus freshly tossed salads, fresh juices, and healthy elixirs. Through a consultation with the dietician, menu plans can be developed for customers dealing with weight loss, diabetes, celiac disease, food allergies, and specific athletic training...

      2. I tried to try snap kitchen the other day, only to realize that their online menu was not actually accurate. They only have a few things ready each day, and the only way to find out what they have is to call. Since I did not want beet salad on the day I called, I made other take-out plans for the evening.
        Maybe this will work for you if you plan ahead and call the day before you'll need something. But for me, I order take-out at 5pm when I realize I still have work to do before I can leave the office and there aren't any leftovers in my fridge at home.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rusty_s

          Snap Kitchen is the other place whose name I couldn't recall. Thanks for your input.

        2. I really love Snap Kitchen. Of all the healthy take-away places, they seem to have the most varied options and real vegetables, not just brown rice and lean proteins. My favorite dish is the curry dusted cauliflower and french lentils. It fills me up and tastes amazing all for about 200 calories.

          2 Replies
          1. re: allyson

            In comparing Snap Kitchen with My Fit Foods, I definitely noticed that Snap had more interesting food choices. More variety. I think I'm gonna buy some food from both places this weekend and do a test.

          2. I got a few meals at my fit foods recently. I'm sure they were very healthy but they seemed pretty devoid of flavor... certainly not something I'd enjoy eating

            1. To answer Taso:

              I bought several meals at Snap Kitchen on Saturday:
              Chili and eggs breakfast
              Texas hash breakfast
              Mocha Maple "cheesecake"
              Spaghetti and Turket "bolognese" dinner
              Lemon cod dinner
              "Devily" eggs snack
              A packaged dried pineapple snack.

              All sizes were "small". The cod cost a little more than the other meals. Total cost after tax: ~$35.00

              Sunday I tried the chili and eggs breakfast. The chili is turkey chili with beans. More beans than turkey. The eggs were a 5:1 blend, which the very helpful Snap Kitchen employee told me was 5 parts egg white and 1 part yolk. It had a few peppers and was mildly spiced. The flavor was quite good, in my opinion. Now, it certainly wasn't restaurant quality, but it made me optimistic about the rest of the food. It was fairly filling too. Grade: B

              Sunday night I tried the "cheesecake". It was only "okay". Really, desserts are the hardest thing to make healthy. The flavor was adequate. The texture was grainy. It did not satisfy my sweet tooth. Grade: C

              Monday morning was the Texas hash. It had lots of good size chunks of lean red meat. But overall, I was pretty disappointed in this dish. A great deal of beans. If I buy from Snap Kitchen again, I will not buy this. I didn't finish it. I'd give it an F grade, but someone else might think it was okay. Grade: D

              Monday lunch: Spaghetti and turkey "bolognese". They use the quotes. like they did with the "cheesecake". I'm not sure what makes a dish bolognese or "bolognese". This was delicious, though. As good as I could make for myself (I am not a particularly skilled chef), lots of tasty turket and the pasta (I think it was whole wheat pasta, not sure) held the sauce well. After the Texas hash fiasco, I was pretty skeptical, but this dish was quite good. Grade: A

              Monday snack time: "Devily" eggs. More of those damned quotes around the food description. The intent is deviled eggs. But instead of the yolk mixture, they put jalapeno hummus in the egg white. This was another delicious dish. 4 pieces (two whole eggs) were the snack. It took me about an hour to eat them. Quite filling and very tasty. The hummus quite good. The whole thing is a little dry, but I would definitely buy these again. I'd buy them from a regular store, or consider making them myself in the future. The employee told me they were quite popular. I am not surprised. Grade: A

              Monday dinner: Lemon cod. Ick. Granted, microwaved fish is never a winner. The fish itself was, at best, okay. Freshness could play a factor here. It was now two days old. It came with mashed potatos, which were pretty good. Most of the dish was kale, though, which I could not bring myself to eat, due to kale-related trauma as a child. As I started typing this paragraph, I was gonna give this dish a grade of "F", but now that I consider the microwaving, it being a couple days old, and the presence of the innocent kale, I should modify that grade to a "C".

              I had the dried pineapple snacks for dessert. They were mediocre at best. A little too tart for my tastes. Grade: C

              Note that these grades aren't comparisons to what I would expect from a homemade dish, or from a restaurant, but what I would expect from a pre-packaged meal like you might get at HEB or the like.

              So, all in all, a moderately positive experience. I will give them another try, I think. I don't see me doing their 21 day challenge where I eat their food for every meal every day for 3 weeks. But I could see me incorporating their meals in my attempt to overhaul my diet. The food heats in about 1 minute, they use mostly fresh ingredients, they recycle, they have interesting food choices, and you can set up an eating plan with a dietician. I could see myself snaggin a turkey meatloaf dish or a "crepe" (there's those annoying quotation marks again) instead of hitting Dan's Hamburgers...

              If you live close to Snap Kitchen, and you'd like to incorporate healthier eating into your diet, it is definitely worth checking out.

              1. My company has My Fit Foods as one our daily catered lunch options. I can’t say I’m a fan. Many of the items are astoundingly bland and flavorless. Also, I’m suspicious about their freshness claims. The beans are either canned beans, or cooked to be perfect simulacra of canned beans.

                A couple of the things I tried were, rather than being flavorless, so salty that they were inedible until I diluted them with other food. I say that as someone who absolutely loves salt. If a normal person thinks a meal is fine as it is, I’ll probably add salt. If they think it’s a bit too salty, I’ll probably add salt. If they think it’s oversalted to the point of being inedible, I’ll probably still want to add salt. Their chili was so salty that even I couldn’t eat it.

                In the unlikely event that their nutrition information is accurate, their meals barely even count as snacks. They print calorie information on the side of their meals; the average of the ‘medium’ sized meals that I tried was about 350. I normally burn about 4000 calories a day, and (thankfully) I didn’t drop any weight when I substituted one of their ‘meals’ for my lunch, so I have a hard time believing that their calorie count is accurate (not to mention their sodium).

                1. I first heard of Mel's Meals (also known as Tasty Healthy Meals) about a year ago. Soon they had a Groupon, so I used it to purchase a whole bunch of their lunches and dinners and sides.

                  I'm a foodie and the meals sounded great to me as I read the descriptions. And you know what? I was NOT disappointed. In fact, I was blown away by several of their dishes (I especially love love the Cuban Beef and the Stuffed Italian Tomatoes). They really taste fresh and the combinations are rockin'.

                  Even after being in the fridge for a few days and then being nuked, I thought it all tasted great.

                  As far as seasoning goes, most of the items need just a smigden of extra salt and the fresh veggies usually need some sort of extra something, (olive oil and/or herbs) but I have been going back over and over for the past year.

                  It seems like their prices are a little higher than their competitors', but I haven't tried the food anywhere else because Mel's is great for what I need - and cheaper than a restaurant! Now that I've read these comments, I'll probably stick with it!

                  Haven't done the 21 day meal plans either since I really like to do my own thing for breakfast...but every few weeks I go in and buy 5 or six meals. They usually have about 80-90% of the items found on their website and menu (which they frequently update), AND they usually have some extra surprise items that aren't on there...and those are pretty darned tasty.

                  I recommend Mel's if you can afford it and can deal with the single location around 8th and Lamar. They also have the line for sale inside Pure Austin gym at 6th and Lamar (but I don't know if they sell it at Pure Austin's north location).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: carolineincity

                    I tried the ground turkey and rice at My Fit Foods on N. Lamar. It was bland, not that I minded. But I could not help thinking that for the same price one block north, at Chipotle, I could get an equal amount of rice, more (and better tasting) meat, beans, peppers and onions, four salsas, lettuce, and cheese. I love the Chipotle bowl.