Meal planning is so 2008.
Planning a week’s worth of dinners for you and your spouse, or your whole family, is a pain. But meal planning for a diet can be even worse!
Who wants to eat out of tupperware every night?
So it’s no surprise to see meal delivery services like Hello Fresh continuing to grow more and more popular. Hello Fresh, like many others, delivers fresh ingredients to your door every week, pre-portioned but unprepared, along with instructions on how to create some truly incredible recipes.
It’s delicious, convenient, and fun for people who have the time and desire to cook, but no skills.
But can you use Hello Fresh for weight loss?
You sure can. And here’s how:
Sign up for Hello Fresh
Calculate your total daily energy expenditure (or maintenance calories)
Access Hello Fresh’s thorough and accurate nutritional data
Plan your eating to save enough calories to enjoy your delicious Hello Fresh meal every night
Watch the weight disappear
Let’s dive in a little deeper to see exactly how meal delivery services like Hello Fresh can actually be a perfect fit for your nutrition and diet goals.
What is Hello & how does it work?
Remember how Netflix used to deliver your a certain amount of DVDs every week based on your subscription level and your “queue,” or choices?
That’s sort of how meal delivery companies like Hello Fresh work.
When you sign up, you’ll choose how many people you’re feeding and how many meals you’d like per week.
At the beginning of each week, a large box packed with dry ice will arrive at your door, full of fresh, raw ingredients that you’ll use to create your dinners.
The box will also contain recipes and full instructions for cooking, along with complete nutrition and calorie data for each meal, and some other fun extras like suggested wine pairings.
How much work is Hello Fresh?
Surprisingly, a lot! The convenience aspect of meal delivery comes from saving you a trip to the grocery store, and keeps you from throwing away an entire bundle of cilantro when you only needed a pinch.
As far as prep goes, you’ll be slicing, dicing, peeling, and cooking every ingredient according to the recipe. The recipes should also include an estimated prep time so you’ll know what you’re getting into before you start!
It’s a lot of fun to pour a glass of wine (and by the way, wine probably won’t sabotage your weight loss, either), turn on some music, and cook a fancy meal as if you actually know what you’re doing.
How to get started with Hello Fresh
If you’re ready to order, it’s actually really simple and fast. You can have your first batch of meals as soon as next week in most cases.
Go to HelloFresh.com and click Get Started. You’ll be asked to pick your plan, and given a few choices.
Choose the number of people in your household, and the number of meals per week you want. (Family Plans offer meals that are a little simpler and faster to cook. Veggie Plans are all vegetarian.)
Sign up for a Hello Fresh account using your email address or Facebook account.
Enter your shipping & payment information, then you’re almost done!
On the final screen, you’ll select which of the currently available meals you’d like.
And that’s it!
Before you know it, fresh, delicious ingredients and unbelievable recipes will start showing up at your door, ready for you to prepare.
Examples of recent Hello Fresh meals & nutrition data
One super awesome thing about Hello Fresh is that their current, as in right now, meal selections are all available on their website.
Not only do they tell you what dishes are currently available, they tell you exactly what the ingredients of each one are, and the full nutritional facts and calories for each serving.
For example, here are a few things on the Hello Fresh menu right now and their calories and nutrition:
Maple glazed pork chops
640 calories per serving (28g fat, 59g carbs, 42g protein)
Winner Winner chicken orzo dinner
730 calories per serving (33g fat, 54g carbs, 61g protein
Spiced dijon salmon
730 calories per serving (40g fat, 57g carbs, 40g protein)
There’s a ton of fun, delicious sounding, and diverse dishes available from Hello Fresh, which is one of the things that makes it so fantastic for dieting and weight loss.
Is it “low calorie” by design? No, it’s not.
But with some smart planning and solid dieting strategy, you can ABSOLUTELY fit these phenomenal meals into your weight loss plan.
I’ll show you exactly how:
Step by step guide to using Hello Fresh for weight loss:
When you make a home cooked meal, it can sometimes be really hard to count the calories in it. Sure, you’ll get a ballpark by tallying ingredients, but it’s hard to know for sure without a food scale.
Hello Fresh solves this common dieting problem by letting you eat delicious meals at home that have the calories and nutrition data printed right on them!
Here’s how to do it using the CICO (calories in calories out) method:
1. Determine your daily maintenance calories
Your TDEE, or Total Daily Energy Expenditure, is a measure of how much energy, or how many calories, you burn in a given day by simply existing and doing your usual level of activity. If you weigh more, your TDEE will be higher, as it will be if you’re very active vs sedentary.
2000 is the commonly cited daily calorie need for most people, and it’s a good starting point. Most men will probably need more than 2000 in a day and most women will probably need a little less, though that’s hardly a hard and fast rule.
This is the number of calories you should eat every day to maintain your current body weight.
Simply multiply your bodyweight times 15 (150lbs x 15 = 2250 calories) or use a calculator like this one to determine your TDEE or daily maintenance calorie level.
2. Decide on a proper and safe calorie deficit
To lose weight, you’ll need to eat fewer calories than your maintenance level, or TDEE.
There are a lot of different opinions and schools of thought on this, but in general a calorie deficit of 500 calories below your daily maintenance should be safe and effective.
The more fat you have to lose, the larger deficit you’ll be able to get away with. (After all, bodyfat is what your body will use, primarily, to make up the energy deficit.)
Using a 500 calorie deficit, you should lose roughly one pound per week. (500 calories x 7 days = 3500 calories, equal to one pound of fat)
Example: If your TDEE is 2000 calories, try eating at around 1500 calories per day for weight loss.
Note: This is all incredibly simplified. I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, though this information is based on research to the best of my abilities. Consult your own doctor before doing anything drastic.
3. Subtract your Hello Fresh meal’s calories from your daily calories
Want to eat Hello Fresh and still lose weight?
Just find the total calorie number of your meal for that day (it should be readily available when your package arrives, if not, you can find all of this information online on Hello Fresh’s website).
Subtract that number from your calorie goal for the day.
Example: Your TDEE is 2000 calories and you’d like to eat 1500 calories per day for weight loss. You know your Hello Fresh dinner will be around 700 calories. That leaves you 800 calories for breakfast, lunch, and snacks throughout the day.
4. Keep the rest of your meals that day in line with remaining calories
You can use a meal planner like MyFitnessPal to track your calories throughout the day and ensure you don’t go over before dinner.
As I wrote before, Hello Fresh isn’t necessarily “low calorie,” so you may not have a ton of calories leftover if you’re hoping to have a 700 calorie dinner. But the power of knowing gives you such a huge advantage!
Some tips to keep you on track during the day so you can indulge in Hello Fresh at night with zero guilt:
Go with pre-packaged foods when possible to get exact calorie counts
Drink plenty of water and sparkling water (black coffee helps, too) to blunt your appetite
Stay busy! Bored and hungry is a horrible combination. Allow yourself to get lost in a project or task to keep your mind distracted.
Just do your best to stick with the plan and you should lose weight over time with consistency!
Important: Calories in/calories out is only one small part of the health equation
I’m a huge believer that CICO (calories in calories out) is the main driver of weight loss. When combined with proper exercise, strength training in particular, the results can be dramatic.
However, a diet lacking core macro and micronutrients, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, etc., is not a good diet, even if it does help you slim down. Consult your doctor before you try something drastic like eliminating all carbs, all fats, or eating nothing but Twinkies (crazier things have happened!)
With the plan I outlined above, you can definitely enjoy some amazing Hello Fresh meals on your diet and still lose weight, no question.
(For more options, check out my guide to meal delivery services broken down by calorie count… I go really in-depth on 7 of the big names.)
You can get started with Hello Fresh right here.