Balance Box’s meals are all low-calorie and reliably healthy, and still manage to satisfy even if you lead an active lifestyle.
- Low-cal but satisfying
- Meals and snacks included
- Detailed instructions included
- Cheaper options available
- No higher-calorie options
- High delivery cost
Losing weight is never easy, but the best healthy meal delivery services make it easier by getting all your meals and snacks designed by nutritionists, cooked by chefs and then delivered to your door.
That’s what Balance Box (opens in new tab) offers. Its meal plans contain breakfast, lunch and dinner along with two snacks, with the whole lot totalling either 1,200 or 1,800 calories. The latter is recommended for those looking to maintain weight, although Balance Box suggests that if you are trying to lose weight you should base your choice on your BMI: over 29, start with the 1,800-calorie Market Plan; under 29, opt for the 1,200-calorie Lighter Plan.
There are four menu plans to choose from: classic, vegetarian, pescatarian and plant-based (the latter is also gluten-free), but you don’t get to pick and choose which dishes you receive. I tested the 1,800-calorie versions of both the plant-based and pescatarian menus.
You can buy boxes containing three or four days’ worth of food, which come with heating instructions (there’s no preparation required as with recipe boxes) and nutritional information on separate pieces of paper. Inexplicably, fibre is left off the nutritional information. You can buy a one-off box or subscribe to reduce the per-day cost.
If you live in London and have a subscription, you can leave the box and the ice packs out to be collected with your next delivery and Balance Box will recycle it. This is helpful because it is a big box and otherwise takes up a lot of space in your recycling bin.
Overall I was impressed with Balance Box’s meals. They were all packed full of vegetables and tasted really fresh, even the ones I ate on the final day of the trial that had sat in my fridge for three days.
Highlights were the Pan-Asian tofu salad – which was the tastiest meal in the pescatarian box, contrary to my usual enjoyment of tofu dishes – and the Vietnamese soy bean and egg noodles with ginger almond coleslaw. That said, there were a couple of meals I felt lacked flavour, the slightly watery chilli con beanie being the biggest offender. Spices don’t add much in the way of calories, so I say throw them in liberally.
The plant-based box goes very heavy on the vegetables, to the point where one lunch I tried was just a box of crunchy veg like broccoli and cauliflower with edamame beans and a very small amount of dressing. I enjoyed this and found it surprisingly filling, but to some it might be a little too abstentious. A meal like that makes it very clear you’re on a low-calorie plan, and I think the best weight-loss meal services manage to avoid that.
The snacks were a mix of delicious prepared bars, which were packed full of nuts and dried fruit, and pieces of fruit or portions of nuts.
With plenty of protein and fibre-rich fruit and veg, the meals do a good job of keeping you feeling full. I exercise every day and tend to eat a vast amount of food, but I never felt starving while testing Balance Box, though I did tend to add in another snack or two – I’m following a marathon training plan so it seemed justified.
A meal delivery service like this doesn’t come cheap, and Balance Box is pretty costly considering that you’re not paying for large amounts of calories. One day’s worth of meals costs £32.99 for 1,200 calories and £38.99 for 1,800 calories, and although the price is reduced if you order via a one-month subscription – to £26.99 and £32.99 a day – it doesn’t come down if you order four days’ worth of food. You then have to pay for delivery on top of this, which is £4.95 in London and £9.95 outside, which is a hefty extra cost.
That said, a lack of time can be one of the biggest constraints when trying to lose weight. Feeling like you can’t fit in preparing healthy meals, or trying to find healthy options on the high street, can lead to you making calorific choices almost by default. In that situation the simplicity of Balance Box will appeal. You pay a premium, but you can pretty much stop thinking about your diet, and that will be well worth it for many people.
Buy from Balance Box (opens in new tab) | From £26.99 per day (1,200 calories), £32.99 per day (1,800 calories)
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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