Convenient, tasty, vegan: could Nutrition Kitchen’s new meal plan help Hong Kongers become more flexitarian?
I’ll be honest: meal plans are not my thing. I’ve had a long career in health and wellness/plant-based journalism so I’ve tried my fair share. But as a consumer, meal plans are not for me. I love to cook, I obsess over what to make for dinner, I spend way too many hours devouring recipes and food blogs and homemade everything is my (slow-cooked, organic) jam. So I am being straight up when I tell you that I am not the person these plans are designed for. But. I absolutely love the idea of meal plans. Why? Because most people are busy, have ingrained habits, don’t know much about macro nutrients balance and are not super interested in slaving away in the kitchen. So if we want to get people to change what they eat (less meat for example), then meal plans might very well be a key solution.
We need to eat less meat
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you may have picked up on the fact that we’re in the middle of a climate emergency and we need to decrease greenhouse gas emissions stat. Spoiler alert: one of the major ways we can do this as individuals is through our food choices. If we’re going to have a shot at not surpassing 1.5 degrees in global heating by 2030 (the very hopeful basis of the Paris Agreement), this means we are all going to have to eat less meat. Folks, I don’t make the rules but this is where we’re at. Or more specifically, where scientists, researchers and all types of other experts are at.
So, back to meal plans. Whenever I speak to people outside of my alt-protein/Green Queen bubble and we chat about plant-based eating, I hear a variation of the following arguments/comments:
- It’s too complicated to figure out how to eat a whole new diet
- I don’t know how to cook vegan food/ I don’t know many plant-based recipes/ I’m not very creative in the kitchen
- Plant-based meats are too processed/not healthy
- I am worried I won’t get enough protein/nutrients
The case for meal plans
This is why meal plans are brilliant: menu variety, no cooking, no grocery shopping, balanced nutrition profiles, whole ingredients without the ultra processed foods, less waste, super convenient and in some cases, very affordable.
This past week, Hong Kong meal plan and delivery service Nutrition Kitchen launched their vegan offering. While they previously had vegetarian menus, this is the first time they have options that are also free of eggs and dairy too. They sent me three meals a day to try for five days.
Nutrition Kitchen’s promise is a good one. The company, founded by personal trainers, makes chef-designed, macro-balanced, tasty, individually-portioned meals that are delivered to your door in sustainable packaging. All of which saves you the time and trouble of doing it yourself. When they launched back in 2016 in Hong Kong (they are now active in Singapore and the U.K.), their plans were very much aimed at the fitness community but since then, they have become a favourite of busy professionals. Who has time for all that prep?
Vegan meal plan review
How it works: every morning, the company delivers a bag with three boxes, each containing your breakfast, lunch and dinner. You store them in the fridge and reheat them (microwave or oven) when you are ready to eat. They offer six weeks worth of unique dishes and menus so every 42 days, you will start the rotation again.
The food was good. In fact, it was tastier than most of the other meal plans I have tried. Decent seasoning, interesting dishes from all kinds of global cuisines and a fair amount of variety in terms of textures and formats, which is key for people to feel excited about what they are eating. Think Crispy Tofu Puttanesca, Kimchi Fried Rice, Thai Glass Noodle Salad, Eggplant Massaman Curry.
Some of the dishes even featured plant-based meat favourites such as Gardein, OmniPork, Beyond Beef and The Meat Co’s Positively Plant Based.
Many of the meal plans I have tasted don’t do a great job with breakfast but Nutrition Kitchen rises to the challenge with plenty of savory items such as Huevos Rancheros & Chickpea Scrambled Eggs and Shakshuka, and healthy sweet ones like the Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Bar.
The portions were on the generous side. If I had to do it again, I would pick the Small, because the Regular size was too much for me- I could have easily done with half of the portion. More to the point: I was full and satisfied every day.
On the nutrition side, all macro-nutrients are marked on each dish, and they told me that they aim to offer around 1,530 calories per day for 3 meals for the Regular plan and 1,250 on average per day for the Small.
For those who have a bee in their bonnet about protein, fear not. I calculated that during my trial week, I was being given on average between 40-45 grams of protein per day, which is plenty.
The price is mid-range but if you calculate how much you really spend on average per meal if you are getting takeaway or if you are cooking yourself, then I would say Nutrition Kitchen is quite reasonable, particularly if you go for the 2 meals per day plan. Even selecting the Regular size, that’s an average of HK$87 per meal. Not too bad considering most people I know spend at least HK$ 100 on lunch and far more for dinner, especially if they get lazy and opt for Deliveroo.
The packaging is on point given what’s available on the market. It is made from sugarcane bagasse pulp (by product of the sugar industry) and every day, the three containers come in a recycled paper bag. If you wash and dry the containers, you can recycle them (as well as the bag) in the paper stream at all the government GREEN @ COMMUNITY recycling centres. Given that my other life is all about sustainable packaging though, I’m going to suggest Nutrition Kitchen up the ante and consider piloting reusable containers, because that’s the future.
Nutrition Kitchen’s vegan meal plans get a big thumbs up from me. It’s hard to argue that they make life that much easier and I enjoyed the variety of dishes I got to try- it never got boring. For anyone looking to dip their toes into a more flexitarian lifestyle, I highly recommend giving them a go.
Weekly Pricing – Regular Vegan 3 meals per day at HK$1710, Regular Vegan 2 meals per day at HK $870; Small Vegan 3 meals per day at HK$1305, Small Vegan 2 meals per day at HK$870. Note: Nutrition Kitchen offers 2-4 meals day.
Order Nutrition Kitchen’s vegan meal plan now – quote GREENQUEEN250 and get HK$ 250 off any 2 week meal plan until July 15
Lead image courtesy of Nutrition Kitchen.