Losing weight is never easy, but getting all your meals and snacks designed by nutritionists, cooked by chefs and then delivered to your door can make it a little easier.
That’s what Balance Box offers. These meal plans contain your 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 also four types of menu to choose from: classic, vegetarian, pescatarian and free from, which has no meat, fish, gluten or dairy from cows. Maintaining weight sounded good to me, so I signed up for the Market Plan with a pescatarian menu.
On Monday morning, all my meals and snacks for four days were delivered in a wide, shallow cardboard box that sets them out in order. You can leave this box and the ice packs in it out to be collected with your next delivery and Balance Box will recycle it.
You also get a menu inside the box, with details of which meals should be heated and the ingredients used in all the dishes. You don’t get a nutritional breakdown of the meals, however, which personally works for me – you know the amount of calories you’re eating, and you can trust the nutritionists at Balance Box have crafted meals with the right macros for a balanced diet, so why obsess over the details?
It does mark this out as specifically a weight-loss service though, because if you’re hitting the gym regularly or running every day, you may well want to know how much protein and carbohydrate you’re eating to support your training. If you want healthy meals delivered to your door to help you achieve those goals, Fresh Fitness Food offers the option to set a macro split to support your training regime.
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.
A couple of highlights were the Pan-Asian tofu salad – which was the tastiest meal in the box, contrary to my usual expectations 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 were lacking in flavour, the slightly watery chilli con beanie being the biggest offender on this front. Spices don’t add much in the way of calories, so I say throw them in liberally.
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.
Although you don’t get a detailed breakdown of the meals, it’s clear that they tick all the key nutritional boxes – you’re getting at least five portions of fruit and veg a day, plus plenty of fibre, and it’s all made from whole foods with no refined carbohydrates or added sugars.
With plenty of protein and fibre, the meals do a good job of keeping you feeling full, even when eating only 1,800 calories a day. I exercise every day and tend to eat a vast amount of food, but I never felt starving while eating with Balance Box, though I did tend to add in another snack or two – I’m training for a marathon so it seemed justifiable.
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 £23.99 for 1,200 calories and £29.99 for 1,800 calories, and although the price is reduced if you order via a one-month subscription – to £19.99 and £24.99 a day – it doesn’t come down if you order four days’ worth of food. People getting deliveries outside London will also have to pay an extra £4.95 delivery charge per box.
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 | From £19.99 per day (1,200 calories), £24.99 per day (1,800 calories)