Eating healthy can be a challenge, especially when you don't have the time or energy to cook.
Meal delivery services have become increasingly popular in recent years as a convenient way to ensure you're getting nutritious, balanced meals without the hassle of having to plan, shop, or cook.
However, for those looking to reduce their calorie intake, finding a meal delivery service that caters to low-calorie options can be a bit trickier.
We’ve spent years, here at Food Box HQ, trying and testing hundreds of different food boxes from all of the different meal delivery services out there. Today I’m going to share with you my favorite low-calorie meal delivery services and what sets them apart from the rest.
Food Box HQ Note: The information provided in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Changing your diet can have serious consequences, always consult with a medical professional before making any changes to your diet.
What Does Safe & Healthy Low-Calorie Eating Look Like?
Before we jump into our favorite low-calorie meal delivery services, it is important to understand the principles of safe and healthy eating while reducing calorie intake.
Reducing your caloric intake too much can be dangerous. It can lead to low energy levels, sleep issues, anxiety, or worse.
It’s very important to know what you’re doing before making any dietary changes and always take the advice of medical professionals and dieticians.
Every person is different and, as such, their dietary and caloric needs are different too. This means there is no set amount of minimum calories that one should have.
That being said, WebMD has put together a chart listing out the suggested calories given ones age, gender, and activity level:
To lose weight, it is essential to create a calorie deficit by burning more calories than you consume on a daily basis. Experts suggest cutting back up to 500 calories per day to lose up to a pound per week.
To find out how many calories you should be having in each meal, use the WebMD chart above to find your personalized suggested daily calories based on your age, gender, and activity level. Then take that number and subtract it by 500 calories (to get a deficit) and divide that number by 3 (for breakfast, lunch, and dinner).
There you have it! You now have a general guide for how many calories you should be consuming at each meal while following a reduced calorie diet.
Food Box HQ Note: If all of the above is too much for you, I found this helpful calculator from Healthline that allows you to input your age, gender, weight, height, and activity level to get general guidance on how many calories you should be eating every day to either lose or gain weight.
Sunbasket is one of the few meal delivery services that I’ve tried that does it all. They have meal kit meals where they send you recipes along with the ingredients to make them, premade meals that simply need to be popped in the microwave or oven before eating, and even a massive marketplace for add-ons like desserts, snacks, smoothies, and more.
What makes Sunbasket an ideal choice for those looking for a low-calorie meal delivery service is the fact that they’re one of the few options that allows you to select a “low-calorie” preference upon setting up your account. Not many other meal delivery services that I’ve tried specifically allows you to select a “low-calorie” option or plan.
What’s more, Sunbasket allows you to choose between meal kit meals and premade meals. With other services, you’re limited to one or the other.
Types Of Meals Offered: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, Desserts, Drinks
Lowest Price Per Meal: $9.99
My Favorite Low-Calorie Sunbasket Meals:
- White Bean Turkey Chili (430 calories)
- Honey-Harissa Pork Chops With Moroccan-Spiced Chickpeas And Chard (430 calories)
- Jerk Chicken With Coconut Cauliflower And Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (420 calories)
What I Like About Sunbasket:
- Sunbasket allows you to filter their menu by meals with 600 calories or less. This can make finding low-calorie options much easier.
- They offer a wide variety of low-calorie meals. I’ve seen upwards of 30 different low-calorie meals to choose from each week.
- I’ve been impressed with the quality of ingredients Sunbasket uses in all of the meals I’ve had from them. They use organic produce, source sustainable seafood, and only use meats without hormones or antibiotics.
What I Dislike About Sunbasket:
- From my experience, Sunbasket’s meals are a bit more adventurous than most other meal delivery services. For example, it’s hard to find classic American dishes on their menu. Cuisines range from Asian and Indian to Thai and Vietnamese. This makes their meal delivery service not the best choice for picky eaters.
- Sunbasket is not cheap. This is likely due to them using higher quality ingredients in their meals.
- While they have many low-calorie meals on their menu, I found that their marketplace has a lot of high calorie snacks and desserts (such as candy and cookies). This could be tempting for someone trying to reduce their overall calorie intake.
Best For A Full Low-Calorie Program
If you’re reducing calories in an effort to lose weight, you may benefit the most from BistroMD’s premade meal delivery program. Unlike all of the other meal delivery services on this list, BistroMD’s meal plans are designed by physicians for healthy weight loss. They achieve this by making sure each meal has balanced macros: 30% of total caloric intake is from healthy fats, 30% of total caloric intake is from complex carbohydrates, and 40% of total caloric intake is from lean protein.
BistroMD is also one of the few meal delivery services that I’ve tried that breaks up their meal plans based on gender. This approach is based on the idea that men and women have different nutritional and caloric needs and therefore require different types of meals to support their health and wellness goals.
BistroMD’s meal plans are tailored to the specific dietary needs of men and women (through different plans) as well as take into account factors such as calorie requirements, nutrient requirements, activity level, and health goals.
Additionally, BistroMD is one of the few low-calorie meal delivery options that also offers low-calorie snacks. In fact, their program encourages healthy snacking to keep you feeling full for the whole day.
Types Of Meals Offered: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks
Lowest Price Per Meal: $8.25
My Favorite Low-Calorie BistroMD Meals:
- Hickory Smoked BBQ Pork with Broccoli (320 calories)
- Turkey Breast with Cranberry Apple Chutney (310 calories)
- Baked Pasta Marinara with Chicken Sausage (310 calories)
What I Like About BistroMD:
- When we used BistroMD, I really enjoyed how they broke up the meals and snacks throughout the day. I ended up eating smaller portions more frequently, meaning I never really felt hungry throughout the day.
- BistroMD’s founder (Dr. Caroline Cederquist) is a board certified physician in Bariatrics who specifically works with insulin-resistant patients to achieve weight loss results and overall wellness. The program she created for her patients is the foundation for all BistroMD plans.
- Every BistroMD plan comes with the ability to schedule time to speak with their staff dietician about your dieting goals and how to achieve them.
What I Dislike About BistroMD:
- BistroMD meals can be hit or miss. Since they have to pull back on certain high calorie ingredients, it can detract from the overall flavor of the meal (making it a bit bland).
- Their shipping fee is one of the most expensive I’ve seen at nearly $20 per box.
Food Box HQ Note: I found this very interesting video of Dr. Caroline Cederquist (BistroMD's founder) speaking about the role of dieting to lose weight. It could be helpful to give you insight into her thought process behind BistroMD's plans.
Best For Low-Calorie Family Meals
If you’re making the switch over to low-calorie meals but you have more than just yourself to feed, Mosaic Foods is a great option to consider.
All of their meals are premade, frozen, and plant-based. While they are vegan meals, they certainly aren’t boring. In fact, when I first tried Mosaic’s meals, I completely forgot they were plant-based in the first place. This is due to the fact that they don’t lean into the “boring” vegan meals (such as bland salads). They have veggie bowls, soups, oat bowls, and even pizzas. From my experience, their meals are not only flavorful but also hearty and filling.
What makes Mosaic Foods ideal for large households is the fact that they allow you to order multiple servings of their single-serving meals as well as the fact that they have 4-serving “Family Meals”.
Their Family Meals are some of my favorite meals that they offer because they’re very easy to make (I just throw them in the oven), they’re filling, and each serving is only around 300 to 400 calories.
Types Of Meals Offered: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Smoothies
Lowest Price Per Meal: $5.99
My Favorite Low-calorie Mosaic Foods Meals:
- Broccoli Cheddar Mac Family Meal (420 calories per serving)
- Penne alla Vodka Family Meal (380 calories per serving)
- Thai Peanut Curry Family Meal (400 calories per serving)
What I Like About Mosaic Foods:
- Mosaic Foods is one of the few frozen meal delivery services I’ve tried that has done an exceptional job at retaining flavor. You know how some frozen meals just feel bland? I’ve never had that experience with Mosaic Foods. They’ve always been full of flavor—sweet, spicy, savory. From my experience, this makes low-calorie eating a little less boring.
- Plant-based foods, like Mosaic’s, tend to have lower calorie content compared to animal-based options like meat, eggs, and dairy, allowing for big portion sizes while still adhering to a low-calorie diet.
- I found that Mosaic's meals effectively replicate high-calorie dishes, such as pasta and pizza, while keeping calorie content low, with most servings falling under 500 calories.
What I Dislike About Mosaic Foods:
- Picky eaters may not love many of Mosaic’s meals. Like Sunbasket, they lean into more eclectic cuisines and unique ingredients.
- Not every single meal is low-calorie and they do not have a low-calorie plan. This means you will have to read the nutrition label to be sure that it fits within your calorie budget.
Best For Grab & Go Low-Calorie Meals
Not only do they offer a wide variety of different meal options (well over 100) most of them are great for when you're on the go. For example, on their menu you'll see smoothies, harvest bowls, harvest bakes, flatbreads (pizza), soups, forager bowls, scoops (ice cream), and more.
Like Mosaic Foods, because Daily Harvest's meals are plant-based (as well as portion controlled) the vast majority of the meals they have are low in calories. Many of the meals I've had from Daily Harvest have been less than 400 calories per serving.
Types Of Meals Offered: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Smoothies, Snacks, Desserts, Drinks
Lowest Price Per Meal: $6.79
My Favorite Low-Calorie Daily Harvest Meals:
- Artichoke + Spinach Flatbread (360 calories)
- Tomato + Zucchini Minestrone (210 calories)
- Spinach + Shiitake Grits Harvest Bowl (200 calories)
What I Like About Daily Harvest:
- Daily Harvest offers some of the lowest calorie meals out of all of the options in this article.
- Their flatbreads are my favorite food that they have. They taste like a pizza but the bread is made from vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli to make it lower in calories.
- Daily Harvest is one of the few low-calorie meal delivery options that can cover all of your meals (including snacks).
- I love that they give you the ability to choose between ordering once per week or once per month. Since they’re frozen, I like to stock up for the month so I don’t have to worry about running out of food during the week.
What I Dislike About Daily Harvest:
- Some of the meals are not as filling as I would’ve liked. Although, as a 185+ pound male, I do require more calories to feel “full”.
- Some of the meals are a little too low in calories. For example, while I enjoy their Spinach + Shiitake Grits Harvest Bowl, it’s only 200 calories. You could technically have 2 of them and still be at only 400 calories.
- It’s not cheap. The majority of their meals are around $10.
Best For Customizable Low-Calorie Meals
However, Trifecta’s meal plans don’t stop there.
In a move that’s a little different from most other meal delivery services, Trifecta also offers meal prep kits. These are plans that allow you to select specific premade ingredients to build a meal yourself. For example, you can order grilled chicken breast along with sweet potato and green beans (all separately to make one meal). This not only allows for greater meal customization but it also allows you to be able to hit very specific calorie requirements.
Types Of Meals Offered: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lowest Price Per Meal: Around $10 per meal on their Meal Prep Kit plan
My Favorite Low-Calorie Trifecta Meals:
- Grilled Chicken Breast (160 Calories) With Sweet Potato (103 Calories) And Green Beans (40 Calories)
- Grilled Salmon (250 Calories) With Quinoa, Brown Rice (149 Calories), And Butternut Squash (60 Calories)
- Cod Fillet (86 Calories) With White Rice (127 Calories) And Broccoli (15 Calories)
What I Like About Trifecta Nutrition:
- Since the meals can be customized with different proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables, it allows you to meet any calorie requirements.
- Their meal prep meals are some of the cleanest options out of all the meal delivery services in this article. The dishes are free of calorie-dense sauces and other ingredients that jack up the calorie count of a meal.
- Trifecta’s app is one of the most comprehensive that I’ve tried. Not only does it allow you to manage all of your meals for the week (and upcoming weeks) but it also include a calorie counter, macro tracker, fitness programs, and workouts.
What I Dislike About Trifecta Nutrition:
- I found canceling my plan to be a bit of a pain with Trifecta. You have to call up customer service to do so whereas other meal delivery services allow you to do it within your account.
- Trifecta's Meal Prep Kit plan can be a bit bland compared to some of the other options we've talked about in this article. This is likely due to the fact that it adheres to strict clean eating guidelines, which often means sacrificing bold flavor for healthier ingredients.
Best For Low-Calorie Meals On A Specific Diet
Fresh n Lean
If you’re looking to follow a specific diet while eating low-calorie meals, Fresh n Lean is going to be the best premade option to consider. They have one of the widest varieties of meal plans that I’ve seen from a meal delivery service, with plans such as Protein+, Keto, Paleo, Whole30, Vegan (as well as a Vegan Low-Carb option), Vegetarian, and Mediterranean Diet plans.
These plans cater to a diverse range of dietary preferences and requirements, making it easy for you to find a meal plan that aligns with your personal dietary goals.
What’s more, Fresh n Lean is one of the few meal delivery services that allows you to exclude dozens of specific ingredients. This makes them a great choice for those who are trying to eat low-calorie meals but may have food allergies or simply don’t like certain ingredients. You can exclude ingredients such as chia, cilantro, nuts, olives and many more.
They also give you the option to tell them about any specific food allergies (such as soy, sesame, and tree nuts). They’ll then cater your meal plan to exclude meals that have those ingredients.
Food Box HQ Note: The lowest calorie meals are going to be found on Fresh n Lean’s Vegan and Paleo plans.
Types Of Meals Offered: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks
Lowest Price Per Meal: Around $10 per meal (depending on the plan you choose)
My Favorite Low-Calorie Fresh n Lean Meals:
- Ginger Sesame Steak With Sweet Potatoes (390 calories)
- Moroccan Lentil And Tomato Soup With Side of Grilled Chicken (210 calories)
- Yellow Squash Frittata with Onion and Peppers (270 calories)
What I Like About Fresh n Lean:
- Fresh n Lean is one of the few meal delivery services that I’ve tried that uses a variety of different plant-based meats in their vegan meals. I found that they do a decent job of replicating the taste and texture of the real thing but bring down the overall calorie count of the meals.
- I really like that Fresh n Lean makes it easy to switch between their different meal plans. I found this was a great way to try out their different diets.
- If you don’t want to stick to a specific meal plan, Fresh n Lean also offers a la carte ordering. This allows you to choose from 100+ different meals every week across all of their plans.
What I Dislike About Fresh n Lean:
- I’m not a fan of Fresh n Lean’s meal trays. They vacuum seal the meals in a plastic container to lock in the freshness while they’re being delivered. However, in doing so, they’ve made it very hard to open the meals. I usually have to cut open the meal trays with a scissor or sharp knife.
- They don’t have a ton of breakfast options. I usually have to order at least 2 or 3 of the same breakfast meal for the week.
What To Consider Before Ordering
If you're stuck on which low-calorie meal delivery service to go with, that's completely okay. There are a lot of options out there, each of which with their own pros and cons. To help you narrow down your search and make the right decision, it's important to first consider several key factors...
- Dietary Restrictions & Preferences: One of the most important aspects to consider is whether the meal delivery service offers options that align with your dietary restrictions and preferences. Are you following a specific diet? Do you have food allergies? Would you like to exclude certain ingredients? There are meal delivery services out there that cater to all of these things.
- Meal Options: Be sure to look over the menu for any meal delivery service you’re considering before ordering. The last thing you want to do is get through signing up and paying, go to order your meals, and nothing looks appetizing.
- Consider Your Cooking Proficiency: Are you someone who enjoys cooking? Then you should consider a meal kit where you get the ingredients and cook the meals yourself. On the flipside, if you’re someone who hates cooking, you should consider a premade meal delivery service.
- Nutritional Information: While all of the meal delivery services listed above have low-calorie options, you’ll want to check to make sure that the meal delivery service you’re considering fits your personal calorie budget as well as any additional nutritional needs you may have.
- Cost: Compare prices between meal delivery services and consider whether the cost is reasonable for the value you are getting. While it's important to find a service that fits within your budget, I wouldn’t recommend skimping on quality for the sake of saving a few dollars.
- Reviews: While we here at Food Box HQ thoroughly review all of the meal delivery services we write about, I highly suggest that you also read real reviews from others who have also used the products. Good sites to do this include Trustpilot and Sitejabber. There are also multiple forums where you can ask in-depth questions about the meal delivery services you're considering, such as Reddit's /r/mealkits and /r/readymeals. Reading multiple viewpoints can provide valuable insight into the overall quality of the meal delivery service you're considering.
- Check For Special Deals: Many meal delivery services offer discounts or promotions for first-time customers or for those who sign up for a subscription. This can be a great way to test out a meal delivery service before fully committing. We collect all of the best coupons and discounts available on this page on our site.
With so many options available, it's important to take the time to find the right service for you to ensure that you're getting the most out of your meal delivery experience. By considering these all of these factors, you can make an informed decision and choose a low-calorie meal delivery service that best meets your personal needs.
Why Trust Us? Here’s How We Chose These Meal Delivery Services
Here at Food Box HQ, we have dedicated years to researching and evaluating the vast array of meal delivery services available. We have thoroughly tested and reviewed hundreds of meal boxes from different services to find the best options available for people just like you.
Our evaluation process includes purchasing and cooking the meals, conducting taste tests, comparing the service to similar ones, and identifying all of the pros and cons associated with the service.
Here’s how we narrowed down this list to select the best low-calorie meal delivery services out there…
- The meals must have a low-calorie count, ideally below 500 calories per serving, ensuring that they fit within a calorie-controlled diet. We included a range of different meal delivery services catering to different calorie requirements.
- The service must have a wide shipping coverage and be able to reach majority of the United States.
- The service must offer a range of different meal options, to avoid monotony and boredom.
- The quality of the meals must be taken seriously by the meal delivery service, this includes using fresh and high-quality ingredients (such as organic produce and antibiotic free meat).
- The service should have a flexible subscription option, allowing customers to skip weeks, pause, and cancel easily.
Have a question about any of the low-calorie meal delivery services listed above? Let me know in the comments below!