Healthy meals on wheels

Food delivery services offering healthy meals are gaining popularity

Forget juice cleanses and their debatable health benefits.

The latest trend in healthy eating appears to be getting meals delivered to you.

Speedy and convenient, these health food deliveries provide nutritious packaged meals tailored for different dietary needs.

At least four such services - Grain (www.grain.com.sg), FoodMatters (sg.foodmatters.me), Fitness Ration (www.fitnessration.com.sg) and FitThree (www.fitthree.com) - have sprung up since 2013.

They offer either single-meal purchases or weekly and monthly subscription plans.

  • Delivery services

  • Here are four health food delivery services which offer dishes with detailed nutrition information.

  • GRAIN

    What: A repertoire of 50 to 60 Asian and Western dishes is put on rotation weekly, including steamed sea bass on yam rice and chilli con carne with beef cheek and pita bread

    Prices: $10.95 to $12.95 a meal. Free delivery and meal personalisation are limited to selected areas in Marina Bay and Raffles Place. For areas outside the Central Business District, there is a minimum order of $30 with a $9.50 delivery fee

    To order: Call 8307-4253 or go to www.grain.com.sg

  • FOODMATTERS

    What: There is no need to cut out hawker favourites from your diet with FoodMatters' healthy twist on Singapore and Western favourites. Its menu of more than 50 dishes includes chicken curry with brown rice and meatball pasta with a tomato and yellow squash sauce as well as vegetarian, low-carbohydrate and gluten-free options

    Prices: Starting at $7 a meal, FoodMatters offers five monthly subscription plans and free delivery to certain locations listed on its website

    To order: Call 8798-4945 or go to sg.foodmatters.me or its mobile app

  • FITNESS RATION

    What: Meal plans are tailored to one's gender and level of activity. With different plans for losing weight and gaining muscle mass, meals are calibrated to include lean protein, high fibre and complex carbohydrates - such as lemongrass marinated dory, mixed garden vegetables, curried cauliflower and mixed brown and red rice with raisins

    Prices: $11.40 to $12.30 a meal. Meals are delivered frozen in bundles of five or 10 weekly. There is a $10 islandwide delivery charge for purchases of fewer than 15 meals

    To order: Call 6635-3465 or go to www.fitnessration.com.sg

  • FITTHREE

    What: For the active gymgoer, FitThree is a good option as it delivers mainly to gyms, and yoga and fitness studios around town.With the option of a three- or five-day meal plan, each 500g meal includes 150g to 200g of hearty protein prepared in Western, Mediterranean and Asian flavours, such as Cajun salmon, beef fajitas and chicken korma

    Prices: Meals come in two sizes, standard ($12.90) and extra large ($15.90), with free delivery

    To order: Call 8452-4752 or go to www.fitthree.com

Launched in 2014, FoodMatters targets its healthy local and Western menu at "the masses who eat at hawker centres for lunch and are used to that price point and taste profile," says co-founder John Langan, 34.

The company has an in-house professional nutritionist, Ms Alexandra Prabaharan, who crafts the menu.

"Their health is in the hands of a qualified professional with years of experience and training", he says.

These services work with certified nutritionists, who provide detailed nutritional information about their meals.

Fitness Ration, which started last June, offers gender-specific meals based on the Health Promotion Board's recommended dietary guidelines for men and women.

Founder Jerome Seow, 23, who manages the start-up with three friends, says: "A healthy lifestyle is not just about workouts, but good nutrition as well. So we created a food service that is not only easy and convenient, but will also sustain healthy eating habits in the long run."

Comprising whole grains, lean protein and complex fibre, its meals are created by three in-house chefs, an external nutrition consultancy and the four-man management team.

After being placed in the blast freezer, the meals are delivered in bundles of five or 10 a week. Customers can refrigerate and reheat the meals as needed.

While reheating meals has often raised the issue of food safety, nutritionists believe that it is not much of a concern as long as the food has been dealt with in a thorough and hygienic way.

Ms Kalpana Bhaskaran, chairman of the media committee of the Singapore Nutrition and Dietetics Association and manager of Temasek Polytechnic's Glycemic Index Research Unit, says: "Having to blast-freeze or chill cooked food and reheat afterwards is a common practice nowadays, especially among hospitals and caterers."

To reduce chances of bacteria growth, she says to "not refrigerate and reheat the food multiple times and not to leave it out in the open after reheating".

Health food deliveries are becoming popular among busy office workers.

Senior design engineer Chan Hoong Yew started ordering from Fitness Ration in June last year.

The 39-year-old, who spends about $520 a month on weekday lunches and dinners, says: "The quality is always satisfactory and the taste is not compromised."

He has tried preparing meals based on a Paleo diet - a highprotein and low-carb trend - to complement his training programme, but found it timeconsuming and not cost-effective.

"Not only are these packed meals more delicious, but I can also calibrate the protein in my meals with my fitness regime."

Australian-born Rhyce Lein, 24, general manager of local fitness subscription service GuavaPass, has had his meals delivered by FoodMatters since last October, and even managed to get all his colleagues to do the same.

"Due to my hectic work schedule, I found it difficult to find time to have a healthy meal. I used to prepare the week's meals on Sundays, but it was too time-consuming."

And healthier lunch options in the Duxton Hill area - where his office is - can be expensive, "at up to $25 to $30 a meal", he adds.

He spends $190 a month now on packed lunches from FoodMatters.

"Our meals are all delivered at the same time and it's great that we can take some time out to eat together but have proper nutrients every day."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 28, 2016, with the headline 'Healthy meals on wheels'. Print Edition | Subscribe