Healthy TV Dinners: Have You Heard of Hungryroot?

by Katherine Pett

It doesn’t matter if you’re a busy student, busy parent, or busy professional: Getting healthy, fresh vegetables on the table each evening can take a lot of prep. And so many of us won’t commit to buying, washing, peeling, and cooking fresh vegetables, even though we know we should.

I will confess to being one of these people. Gasp! Yes, even though I am a nutrition student at a nutrition school, I still lose the battle with convenience many nights of the week!

In the moment, there are lots of ways to maximize healthy choices, especially in cities. You can run to the nearest “fast casual” restaurant, like Chipotle or Pret for healthier grub, but it isn’t ideal. How many calories do these foods have? Sodium?

I wanted to dramatically increase vegetable intake without going out to eat and without painstaking vegetable prep. Luckily (creepily?), my targeted social media ads were on point and I started seeing ads for a company called Hungryroot.

hungryroot

This is one of their main promotional pictures. Maybe they’re advertising to the tech crowd? From Hungryroot.com

Hungryroot is a meal-delivery service that sends fully-prepped vegetables with sauces and protein that you could make fresh at home in 7 minutes! Each entrée contains fresh spiralized vegetable “noodles,” one or two sauces, a crunchy or fermented topping, and an option for protein. And, bonus for shorter women (like myself) or perhaps people wanting to reduce weight, each meal is calorie controlled at 500 calories or less.

I found a significant discount for first-time customers and thought, “OK, I’m sold.” I purchased 5 Hungryroot meals and waited in anticipation for my delivery!

The Delivery:

Hungryroot meals are delivered in refrigerated packaging to your doorstep! The boxes are insulated and come with huge ice packs, so you don’t need to stress if the box is waiting for a couple hours before you’re home. Additionally, each of the meals lasts ~7-10 days from the day you get it, so you have plenty of time to enjoy!

The Meal:

Each meal is contained in a package that looks similar to a TV dinner, but with slightly better packaging.

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Hungryroot Instagram

Meals can be cooked on the stove or microwaved, which make them versatile if you need to eat them on-the-go or at work. I opted to saute each meal in 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and each meal took exactly 7 minutes to prep from start to finish!

The Taste:

Hungryroot meals are comparable to better “fast casual” meals. They are definitely tastier than a frozen dinner. Are they better than a home-cooked dinner? That depends on how good of a cook you are and what you order.

I ordered 5 meals:

  • 2 Carrot Noodles with Tangy Sriracha Peanut Sauce (and chicken for protein)
  • Celery Root Noodles with Sweet Basil Gremolata (and chicken)
  • Sweet Potato Noodles with Creamy Cashew Alfredo (and chicken)
  • Turnip Noodles with Toasted Walnut Pesto (and chicken)
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What an open Hungryroot meal looks like. From Buzzfeed.

The best were the carrot noodles and sweet potato noodles. The sriracha peanut sauce had an amazing kick and was definitely something I’d be impressed with even at a restaurant, while the sweet potato noodles were tasty and filling. The other two flavors were very enjoyable, but had a plainer flavor.

The chicken came pre-portioned and pre-cooked, so you just had to add it to the stir-fry near the end and heat it up. It was tasty, but plain. I never weighed it, but I would be surprised if it was more than two ounces—certainly not worth the $3 additional charge for protein. To cut costs, I’d advise buyers to cook up your own protein (be it meat or tofu or egg) and add it to Hungryroot meals.

Hungryroot also offers breakfast options, side dishes, and desserts, none of which I tried. All Hungryroot meals are gluten-free and most can be vegan or vegetarian depending on the protein you choose. This makes them a great choice for vegetarians or those on restricted diets.

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Hungryroot Instagram

The Cost:

Hungryroot is healthy and convenient, but it isn’t cheap. Each meal is $9, and adding protein is 3 additional dollars (hence, why you should add your own protein). If you order over $50, shipping is free.

Overall:

Pros: The food tastes great, arrives quickly, and is incredibly convenient to cook. Definitely a great option for finals week, kids home from school, or long work-weeks when you need healthy, veggie-filled meals fast.

Cons: The price is high. The meals are also packaged in recyclable plastic containers, wrapped in insulation and shipped in a cardboard box with plate-sized ice packs. When my meals were delivered, one of my first reactions was to think, “Gee, that’s a lot of packaging I have to throw away now.”

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I was not the only person stressed about packaging. From Twitter.

I have managed to reuse the ice packs several times, but they are huge—think science-textbook huge. They are certainly not the size you can conveniently toss in a lunch bag.

After receiving the meals, I sent Hungryroot feedback about the packaging. One of their representatives, Zoe Mesirow, got back to me right away. “Improving our packaging to be more eco-friendly is one of our top priorities right now,” she said.

Until that happens, however, you will have to weigh the ease of ordering and the healthiness of meals against the downside of the excess packaging.

Will I Order It Again?

I definitely see myself ordering Hungryroot again during a time like finals, when I realize I’m not going to have time and I want to “make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

For me, it will remain a “sometimes food” because of the price and packaging.

However, Hungryroot is expanding into Whole Food starting this summer, so interested shoppers can stock up on healthy convenience without as much enormous packaging.

Katherine Pett is a second-year student in the BMN program. This is her final article for The Sprout before graduation!

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