In this Prep Dish meal planning review, you’ll learn about the benefits of this meal planning service for a whole food diet.
Meal planning is one of the most important skills to master if you want to consistently eat healthy food. Without a plan, it’s too easy to overspend on groceries with last-minute trips to the store and unintended restaurant visits. When I started meal planning a couple years ago, shopping and cooking became a lot less stressful.
Even with meal planning in your routine, sometimes it’s hard to think of new things to cook. That’s why meal planning services can be a big help for many busy home cooks. I recently tested out Prep Dish, an affordable meal planning service that bases all its meals on whole food ingredients. It was so refreshing to try some new healthy recipes and expand my family’s dinnertime horizons.
How Prep Dish Works
Prep Dish subscribers receive weekly meal plans designed to help people shop and prep food just once a week for easy meals all week long. Subscribers receive a weekly email containing a shopping list as well as instructions for prep day and individual meal days. This email includes everything you need (besides the food!) to make 4 meals, a salad, a snack, a breakfast, and a dessert.
Each weekly plan includes a gluten-free version and a Paleo version featuring whole food ingredients. Subscribers have access to both plans. Even if you’re not on a gluten-free or Paleo diet, these recipes are still a great starting point for healthy dinners.
With just 4 meals in each plan, you’re not getting a recipe for every night of the week. I think this is a great approach because it would be hard to keep up with a full week of making someone else’s recipes. It adds new ideas to your cooking arsenal, and it also leaves room for the occasional night out to dinner or homemade family favorites.
Here’s the menu for the week I tested Prep Dish:
Meal 1: Asian Glazed Salmon w/ Grilled Bok Choy & Peaches
Meal 2: Spinach Salad w/ Balsamic Chicken, Raspberries, Snap Peas, Walnuts & Goat Cheese
Meal 3: Black Bean & Mushroom Tacos w/ Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa
Meal 4: Beef Kebobs w/ Zucchini & Tomatoes
Salad: Massaged Kale Salad w/ Blueberries & Pumpkin Seeds
Breakfast: Veggie Breakfast Tacos w/ Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa
Snack: Spiced Popcorn Baggies
Dessert: Mango & Blueberry Popsicles
Benefits of Prep Dish
Prepping Ahead of Time: Cooking at dinnertime is one of my least favorite things to do. I love to serve home-cooked meals, though, so I have to be creative. One of the best things about Prep Dish is that most of the meal preparation is done ahead of time. By doing 2 hours of prep work during the weekend, you cut down the amount of active time needed to get food on the table during the weeknights.
Given our schedule on the week I tested Prep Dish, I wanted to serve two of the meals on Sunday and Monday, and the other two meals on Thursday and Friday. It didn’t make sense to do the prep work for those later meals on Sunday, so we split the preliminary work into two sessions. We did the work for the first two meals on Sunday, and then the rest of it was done on Thursday. This worked out well for me because I didn’t have one long stretch of time that I needed to be in the kitchen, and all the ingredients were fresh when we ate them.
Delicious, Whole Food Recipes: The biggest surprise for me with this meal plan was that my 10-year-old and 12-year-old actually liked all the meals. They can be slow to warm up to new dishes, so I didn’t expect to hear them praising the salmon marinade or the mushroom black bean tacos. While I might tweak the seasonings a bit if I were to make these dishes again, all the recipes were very tasty as written in the plan.
Variety: I also really liked having some new dishes to try. I make tacos frequently, but I’ve gotten into the habit of using the same fillings week after week. I wouldn’t have thought to put portobello mushrooms in a taco, but they tasted delicious. It was nice to find a new spin on taco night.
For me, the biggest challenge with any meal planning service is that I get my produce from a weekly farm share. If the meal plan doesn’t match the veggies I have, it’s not useful to me.
Fortunately, Prep Dish focuses on seasonal ingredients, so there’s inevitably some overlap between the menus and what I get from the farm. It’s also easy to make substitutions. For example, during my test week, I didn’t have snap peas or spinach for the Balsamic Chicken Salad. Fortunately, it was easy to substitute the green beans from my farm share for the snap peas, and I used my excess lettuce in place of the spinach. The Prep Dish Facebook group is a great resource for substitution questions.
The other challenge I found was that the shopping list didn’t always include exact quantities. It said things like “4 salmon fillets” and “one bag organic air-popped popcorn.” I was left wondering how big the salmon fillets should be and how much popcorn I needed to match the amount of seasoning. As an experienced cook, I was able to make educated guesses, and everything turned out well. But newer cooks might need more specific guidance on quantities. Again, the Facebook group is a nice resource to use if you’re left questioning details like these.
Special Discount Offer
Prep Dish is offering a special deal for readers of Real Food Real Deals. The normal price of $14 a month is a good deal if you ask me, but they’re offering you an even better price: just $4 for the first month. You can try out this service for only $1 a week and see what you think.
Have you tried Prep Dish already? I’d love to know about your experience, so please share in the comments!