by Melissa Callari, RD, CDN
As a registered dietitian, I have always touted the benefits of eating organically to my patients. In the infancy of my career, organic food was only found in specialty grocery stores, which were few and far between. Today, most large-chain grocery stores have entire aisles and produce sections dedicated to USDA certified organic foods.
Another area of the food industry that has caught on to the organic movement is the meal plan delivery business. This delights me to no end! I have counseled patients from all walks of life—single moms, households with working parents, entrepreneurs, etc. One thing they all seem to have in common is the lack of time to fully implement many of the dietary changes I recommend. That’s what makes meal delivery plans a good option. But how do you choose the right one? Here are five things to consider:
Organic vs. Certified Organic
Many foods can be called organic. However, a food is certified organic only if it carries the USDA organic seal. This means that it has gone through a stringent certification process overseen by The National Organic Program, a division of the USDA’s agricultural marketing service. Items that carry the seal must contain at least 95 percent certified organic agricultural ingredients. The remaining ingredients must meet non-GMO criteria and be on a national list of acceptable items. Food products stating they’re “made with” organic ingredients must contain a minimum of 70 percent certified organic ingredients, with the exception of salt and water.
Are All Components Certified Organic?
Some meal plans may contain only a few certified organic ingredients. For example, a website might display the USDA organic seal for produce, but the same standards aren’t in place for meats, poultry and diary. Be sure to look beyond the label.
Do you have specific nutritional goals you are trying to achieve? Does the meal plan have a registered dietitian available to consult with you and help you build the plan that best meets your goals? Full House Organic, the only USDA certified organic restaurant in New York, now offers a customized meal plan. Made with only USDA certified organic ingredients, prepared meals are delivered fresh daily. The plans provide breakfast, lunch and dinner, and individual consultations with a dietitian. All plans can be tailored to specific dietary needs.
Do you like to cook, or do you want your meals prepared for you? Prepared meals come either “ready to heat and eat” or frozen and “ready to thaw and eat.” Meal kits typically contain all the ingredients and a recipe card to prepare the dish. They still require cooking and cleanup but eliminate the need to go grocery shopping. Both are excellent options for eating organically.
Healthy Choices and Variety
Does the meal plan support the diet you are following? Are there multiple individuals in your household to consider when ordering? Paleo, keto, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan diets are just a few meal plan options. In addition, make sure they provide enough flexibility to meet your individual needs. One-day, three-day, five-day and seven-day plans are some available options.
Melissa Callari, RD, CDN, has worked in private practice as a registered dietitian and as a consultant to medical practices. As the in-house dietician at Full House Organic, she works closely with the chef to develop healthy, customized organic meal plans for clients. For more information, visit FullHouseOrganic.com.