Planning and preparing meals can be challenging, especially if you are working around diabetes diet restrictions. Many people with diabetes struggle with cooking, knowing which ingredients to buy, controlling portion sizes, and finding time to prepare nutritious meals. Relying on fast food, junk food, and frozen dinners can lead to weight gain, poor blood sugar control, and higher cholesterol levels, all of which can increase your risk for diabetes complications.

If you struggle with meal preparation, services like Blue Apron, Plated, and Fresh n’ Lean, just to name a few, may be able to help. These are part of a growing trend of online services that allow you to order your meals for the week, or just for the day, and have the ingredients and recipe delivered to your door, ready to cook!

Home delivery

Getting meals delivered to your home can trump going to the grocery store for several reasons. If you struggle with portioning, Plated, for example, will deliver pre-portioned meals and ingredients in an insulated box that will keep the food fresh, even if you are not home at the time of delivery.

If choosing healthful options is an issue for you, Blue Apron promises to deliver farm-fresh, seasonal produce, meat with no added hormones, and sustainably-sourced seafood. And, if you are new to cooking, they also provide recipe cards and how-to videos.

If you have specific dietary requirements, Fresh n’ Lean is a plant-based food delivery service that delivers all organic, low-sodium, and gluten-free meals.

“I believe that these meal delivery services can be very beneficial for people who have diabetes,” said Amy Campbell, CDE, registered dietitian, and author of several books about diabetes. “Many people with diabetes are challenged by what and how much to eat.” It’s important to do your homework and make sure you know what’s in your food, Campbell added. Not all the meals are necessarily healthful or “good” choices for people with diabetes because calorie counts can be a little high.

"I believe these meal delivery services can be very beneficial to people who have diabetes."

For example, Blue Apron meals generally range between 500 and 700 calories per meal and Plated meals range from 600 to 800 calories, notes Campbell. Other meal delivery services may not provide easily accessible nutritional information, making it hard to gauge the calories, carbs, or sodium in the meals, she added. “Not having that information can make it challenging for people to know just what they’re getting,” Campbell said. “These services could certainly help people with diabetes eat more healthfully, but it’s important for people to do their homework.”

Price is another factor to be aware of. The two-person plan at Blue Apron, which includes three recipes per week (each serves two) costs $59.94 per week. The dinners at Plated are $12 per serving. Some services may have free shipping and delivery, while others may charge fees. Be sure to factor this in to the overall cost.

But the convenience factor may outweigh the cost for some. “As we know, a lot of people either don’t do a lot of cooking or don’t know how to put together a healthy meal,” Campbell said. “These services make it easier and convenient for people to put together a healthy, tasty meal in not a lot of time.”

Meal planning

Most meal delivery services allow you to start and stop delivery at any time, so you don’t have to worry about long-term commitments. Even if these services simply get you feeling more comfortable in the kitchen, they may be worth trying.

“The hope is that people would gain confidence and be excited to try shopping and preparing meals on their own as well,” Campbell said. “Again, with so many of these services springing up, it’s important for people with diabetes to do some research and consider their options.”

Many people find meal planning stressful, especially when trying to plan family dinners. Meal delivery services can help alleviate some of that pressure. Another great benefit!

“I think using a meal delivery service is a great option for people who need help with meal planning,” Campbell said. “It’s a great way to ease into healthy eating, and people can learn a lot about portions, cooking methods, and different types of foods.”

Another option: curbside pickup

Another growing trend at many grocery stores online ordering. Customers can select their groceries online and pick them up at a special location outside the store.

Items you order online are brought out to your car and, in most cases, loaded for you. All you have to do is pay and drive away—no need to go inside. However, there is usually a minimum order amount or service charge—sometimes both. You can ask an employee at your usual grocery store or check on their website to find out what services your neighborhood grocer offers and what fees they charge.

Danica Holdaway, a lifestyle blogger, recently wrote a post about her experiences with online grocery shopping and concluded that, while imperfect, it offers many advantages, especially for her as a mother. “One of the things I like best about it is that it really curtails my impulse shopping,” Danica wrote. “I was much more mindful of how much I was buying and how expensive everything was.”

If you're looking for more convenient ways to eat healthy at home, there are plenty of options out there for you to consider.

Have you tried a food delivery service or grocery curbside pick up? Share your experience with the community by commenting below.