When I first tried RealEats in 2018, I knew there was something special about it. Many years later, it continues to impress.
I’m not sure why it took me so long to write a review, but I’ll stop boring you with a long-winded intro. Instead, I’ll jump right in sharing my experience with RealEats over the years. Since that first meal, I’ve probably averaged an order a month from RealEats.
So, let’s get started!
Of all the prepared meal delivery services I’ve tried, RealEats is easily my favorite in terms of taste.
Pretty much every service claims some aspect of “chef inspired” or “chef cooked,” however, the meals from RealEats actually seem like something a chef would serve in a restaurant.
While I’m a foodie in certain aspects, I’m not a foodie that can pick out and describe the nuances of meals. My taste buds aren’t that evolved or vocabulary that refined. 😃
They are evolved enough to know the meals from RealEats are on a different taste playing field than other similar prepared meal delivery services. I’m at a loss for words, but there’s something about the meals that make them a noticeable notch better.
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If you order using any of the links in this post, it’s a win-win for both of us. You’ll get a generous discount and I’ll get some extra fun money (an actual budget category of mine). As a long-term customer of RealEats and having paid for every meal myself, I hope that gives this review more credibility (i.e. I’ve put my money where my mouth is).
Maybe an example would help.
When I first tried the shrimp and grits with mango salsa, I was taken aback because the salsa genuinely looked and tasted homemade. The salsa paired with the seasoned shrimp and grits was all on point.
One thing that potentially helps on the taste front is that the entree, sides, and extras (like the mango salsa) are individually vacuumed seal. This allowed the mango salsa to be added cold after everything else was heated up. Had the mango salsa been combined and heated together with the shrimp, I imagine a lot of the flavor and freshness would’ve been lost.
My all-time favorite meals are:
- Grass-Fed Green Chili Beef
- Miso Salmon
And then my still yummy, regular picks include:
- Shrimp & Grits
- Grass-Fed Beef Bolognese
Meal Options and Variety
As of February 2021, here’s a breakdown of RealEat meal options:
As a seafood fan, I appreciate that RealEats has more seafood options than competing services.
They also provide multiple add-ons (breakfast, soups/chilis, snacks, smoothies), but I’m focusing on just lunch and dinner meals for this review.
New meals (excluding variations existing ones) seem to get added once or twice a month based on my experience. Since I typically order once every three to four weeks, that frequency feels fine. I think if I ordered more frequently, I would like to see new meals added more often to avoid meal burnout.
Overall, the number of options is on the lower end of other prepared meal delivery services.
One thing that does help is that there is variety within each category. For example, instead of every meal being a chicken breast, the meal options might use chicken thighs or pulled chicken instead. I’ve found category variety is just as important as the total number of options.
In terms of heating up meals, RealEats’ approach is a lot different than most other prepared meal delivery services.
Instead of microwaving the meals, you boil them for six minutes. The entree usually takes six minutes with the sides either taking three minutes or used cold.
With RealEats, there are a handful of extra (albeit easy) steps:
- Boil water
- Add the sides three minutes into cooking the entree
- Plate everything
So compared to microwaveable meal delivery services, RealEats does take a little longer to go from refrigerator to first bite. And there is the extra plate or bowl that you’ll need to wash since you have to plate the meals.
But it’s all still extremely convenient.
One issue that does come up semi-regularly is that sometimes the pouches inflate when heated which causes them to float to the top. Depending on where that pouch is in relation to the others, it could push other pouches out of the water and cause them to not heat up as quickly (or evenly).
When I see this happen, I do my best to put something heavy in the pot to push the pouches back into the water.
The nice thing about RealEats meals is that I’m never afraid of overcooking the meals. So in those situations, it’s not the end of the world if I cook everything for an extra minute whereas in a microwave that could ruin a meal.
Cost, Portion Size, and Value
I typically do the six meal plan which runs $77.94. Shipping is included with no sales tax (at least for me in Tennessee). That puts RealEats on par with similar prepared meal delivery services.
It’s not the cheapest nor the most expensive.
Note: while some other services might charge the same or less per meal, they end up being more expensive than RealEats because of sales tax or delivery fees.
Here’s a cost breakdown of their current meal plans:
|Number of Meals||Cost Per Meal||Total Cost|
On cursory glance, portion sizes might seem small since everything is crammed into vacuum-sealed pouches. But once you get the meals on the plate, the portion sizes are much larger than they first appear and are slightly larger than competing services (based on average serving sizes in grams).
So given the best-in-class taste, slightly larger portions, and being competitive cost-wise, RealEats offers exceptional value.
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Nutrition and Dietary Needs
If you’re looking for meals that meet a specific nutritional or dietary requirement, RealEats might not be the best option for you. That’s not to say you won’t find meals that meet your needs, but their meals aren’t created specifically with keto, paleo, or low carb diets in mind.
For a little context though, here’s the average nutritional information for all their current meals (February 2021).
|Serving Size (g)||Calories (kcal)||Carbs (g)||Protein (g)|
Ease of Ordering
Having used RealEats since late 2018, I’ve seen them gradual improve their website and ordering process. Their circa 2018 website kinda stunk, then it got to a decent level, and now it’s actually good!
The website makes it easy to order (or skip) up to three weeks in advance. It’s really easy to see nutrition facts, ingredients, and if there’s any potential allergens.
My only minor nitpick is I wish there were a way to quickly clear selected meals when I place a new order. By default, it preselects meals for me. To pick a new meal, I have to unselect an existing meal. It’d be quicker if I could just nuke all the meals and choose the ones I want as I scroll through the meal options instead of having to hunt and peck (i.e. I want this meal so I have to go and unselect that meal).
If you don’t skip a week, they’ll send you an email reminding you to select meals before the ordering deadline ends. If you miss this deadline, meals will be preselected for you, so definitely don’t ignore that email!
Packaging and Waste
Originally, this wasn’t a category I would’ve added to a review, however, I’ve changed my mind after seeing just how much packaging waste prepared meal delivery services generate.
It’s an unfortunate side effect for the convenience and ensuring meals stay cold in transit.
But the good news is that RealEats is the best I’ve found in this area. They have smaller shipping boxes and ice packs, use less insulation, and the food packaging is a lot less.
I should also clarify that the box, pouches, meal descriptions, and outer plastic used for the insulation and ice packs are all recyclable. The only things that aren’t are the insulation itself and the gel used in the ice packs.
All my experiences with Customer Service have been great. These include: a missing side, a damaged delivery, and forgetting to skip a week in time.
In all these cases, the replies happened quickly and an appropriate credit was issued.
I like jotting down long-term observations to see if a company or product is trending in the right direction, the wrong direction, or not evolving at all.
Since this is the first time I’ve written about RealEats, these notes include things I’ve seen since late 2018.
- Noticeable improvements to their website. The most recent (and best update) happening late January 2021.
- Pouches belonging to the same meal are now “stapled” together. You used to have to manually sort them from the box.
- Pouches can now be opened by hand instead of requiring scissors.
- Never seeing a price increase. It’s actually gone down. 🤯 Six meals used to cost $81.00, now it’s only $77.94.
- I haven’t noticed a decrease in meal quality or portion sizes.
Since 2016, I’ve used prepared meal delivery services for six out of seven dinners most weeks. To keep from getting burnt out, I’ve tried a bunch of services and experienced the entire menu for a lot of them.
All that to say, I have a lot of experience and can confidently say RealEats is my favorite.
For other services, inevitably, there’s a meal during the week that I don’t look forward to and usually procrastinate and eat it last. But with RealEats, I pretty much always look forward to eating every meal.
The taste is best-in-class, they’re easy to heat up, and the cost is competitive. I don’t think you can ask for a better combination!
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If you’ve tried RealEats, let me know what you think in the comments (or if you have a go-to meal delivery service you like).