Unless you’ve got the wherewithal to meal plan, or you’re an ace at reading restaurant menus and choosing on-plan foods, healthy eating can be time consuming. With the advent of ready-made meals, pre-packaged, pre-portioned and ready to heat at home or the office, hurried eaters can fork over the dough to eat healthy, and it doesn’t have to come out of a box. We visited three of the city’s to-go alternatives to see which prevails according to taste, accessibility and presentation. Here are our results.
Presentation: We ventured to the My Fit Foods store in the Quarry Market, that's coincidentally next to a Chipotle. A big, clean space, tiny check out desk and several freezers greeted us (I took a co-worker who practices Crossfit along with me), and several tall tables lined the back wall. Though everything is packaged in microwavable containers, an extra sleeve is added baring the dish's name, calorie count amount of saturated fat and amount of protein. The back of the sleeve has complete nutrition label info, along with ingredients (most which I could pronounce, some including Maltodextrin took several more tries). Dishes are also presented with a tiny pic of what the dish looks like inside, which definitely helps.
Taste Test: We sampled four dishes: a protein snack pack with apples, cheese, nut butter; Farmhouse steak and eggs with Yukon gold mashed potatoes; chicken sausage & polenta cake; lemon turkey over white rice; and omega me crazy salmon. Our least favorite was the breakfast item (the steak was chewy and dry when reheated), but the salmon and turkey were both well seasoned. The polenta cake needed a good mashing, but worked well once combined with the chicken and grilled side veggies.
Accessibility: There's three stores and supply changes often.
Pick up your meals: Quarry Market, 7322 Jones Maltsberger Road, Suite 218, (210) 829-8275; Stone Oak, 19202 Stone Oak Pkwy., Suite 101, (210) 504-4755; Evans, 20780 N. 281, (210) 402-4014
Who makes it: Executive chef and Paleo lifestyle success story Jason Schweitzman along with a small team create all the meals that are distributed throughout seven H-E-Bs. The dude lost 180 pounds since switching to Paleo and operating a CrossFit gym.
Presentation: Though my partner preferred My Fit Foods, I must say I like what NCE does with their H-E-B endcaps. We visited the Lincoln Heights location, where a small 5-by-5-foot section was filled with snacks, sauces, desserts(!), holiday sides, lunches, dinners and breakfasts (there was also a few items made specifically for the kiddos, but whatevs, I'm eating them).
Taste Test: We purchased paleo doughnuts, spaghetti squash with meatballs and meatloaf. If you've got a sweet tooth and are adhering to this lifestyle, you could do far worse than nom on these doughnuts. As far as the spaghetti squash goes, the sauce was sweet (likely employing some coconut oil), but the meatballs were a bit too dense. If there's one thing I will likely go back for, it's the meatloaf with its grilled veggies and sweet potato and parsnip mashes were downright delicious. More, please. Oh, and portions were huge. Definitely shareable, and still good as lefotvers.
Accessibility: They're found across a few H-E-Bs in town so they're easy to grab and you don't have to go to a weird little store (but you can visit them at the kitchen to see how it's all made). Bonus? The chatty gals who raved about dishes they tried and gave us honest feedback about things that didn't work.
Pick up your meals: 8am-2pm from Naked Coconut Eats kitchen; or seven H-E-B locations across town
Who makes it: Chef Zach Lutton, an alum of the Culinary Institute of America-Hyde Park, create the dishes out of their commissary kitchen/store at the Colonnade.
Presentation: The bright orange packaging has always been eye-catching. The store resembles My Fit Foods almost down to a tee, but with brighter colors. Though I'm most familiar with this store, having eaten it several times before, I was less than impressed with the only sales guy available at the time not knowing what's in the food. "What's in the breakfast fried rice?" was met with a long pause and a succinct, "pork."
Taste Test: Though I'm a fan of the turkey raguout, my tasting partner and I had a hard time with the offerings at Zedric's. The Malaysian beef and broccoli sounded enticing, but was too heavy on the fish sauce. The breakfast scramble had too much rice wine vinegar and was downright tangy. The saving grace came in the pot roast with carrot and cauliflower mash (though it could have used some thyme), and the red cabbage. The Fit Kit — with dried fruit, nuts and dried turkey jerky — will always be a fave.
Accessibility: There's sadly only one location left, but the company has added delivery to orders over $75 in select zip codes.
Pick up your meals: 7am-8pm Mon-Thu; 7am-7pm Fri; 10am-4pm Sat; 10am-7pm Sun
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