We love a good bit of home delivery in the UAE. From groceries to pet care to laundry, there’s pretty much always an app for that. The same goes for healthy meal plans, with numerous offerings making staying on track just that much simpler. Yet which one is right for you? Are they worth the price and the commitment? And just how can you cut through all the sales and marketing to figure out what really will provide you solid food bang for your buck?
“Most of us lead very busy schedules,” says Nadine Tayara, a licensed dietitian and nutrition consultant based in Dubai. “So food delivery is not only convenient but also cost effective.”
There are plenty to choose from, she points out. “Paleo, vegan, gluten free, detox… It’s important you do your research, look at the menu options available, and seeing a dietitian prior to signing up would be beneficial too.”
Her reasoning boils down to one thing: diets and nutrition vary according to what you want to achieve. Paleo works for some people, plant-based for others. Counting macros can be great, or eating intuitively might work better.
“Being healthy has a different meaning to different people. We are all unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all diet plan,” she says.
Different diets will work depending on different things, but the key is making sure you find a program you can stick to, says fitness professional Diego Carrete.
“Meal companies can work, especially for people who don’t enjoy cooking or lack time,” he adds. They allow you to balance nutritional accuracy with taste.
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. If you’re one of those who is not best friends with the kitchen, get on board with a meal delivery company you can trust.”
Healthy meal delivery plans in the UAE
Best for: Afraid-of-commitment fitness buffs
Macro-nutrients, aka fat, carbs and protein, are the focus here. Every dish comes with a macro-nutrient breakdown, ideal if you’re trying to stick to a certain diet, like Paleo’s low-carb demands (burn) or a high-protein bodybuilder regime (beast).
Food is basic but healthy, with dishes including sweet potato waffles (395 calories) and protein pancakes (284 calories) on the breakfast menu, then beast boxes (a mix of protein and veg) and beast bowls (protein and salads) dominating the other meals. The cauliflower rice is incredible, while the cauliflower cheese, at just 138 calories a serving and without any flour, sounds interesting. Vegan and veggie options are available, with quinoa-crusted tofu available beside some beans and broccoli.
An added perk of this menu? Food can be ordered on a meal-by-meal basis via Deliveroo. Weekly and monthly plans are also available. From Dh2,800 per month for burn; Dh3,800 for beast.
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Kcal Extra. Calories are super controlled here and dishes are portion-controlled versions of fast food. There’s considerable flexibility with ordering and packages are affordable.
Best for: Vegans
Completely vegan, Plant Power Dubai is ideal for animal-loving health-conscious folks in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras al Khaimah, Sharjah and Al Ain. Meal plans are available on a week-by-week basis, with prices varying depending on whether you want just three meals, or three meals plus snacks (from Dh95/day).
The food here is incredible, if inevitably carb-heavy. There’s also a great backstory. Calories are provided per dish and there’s usually an option of four items for every course. Breakfast might be rolled overnight oats with fruit and nuts or a mushroom and spinach eggless “quiche,” while lunch and dinner options include a recommended vegan lasagna, sweet potato and black bean burritos, peanut butter and squash curry and barbecue tofu skewers. Optional snacks provide a bit of sweetness: the protein power balls make for a great 4pm pick-me-up.
Another benefit is that every daily delivery of food comes in eco-friendly packaging.
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ColourMyPlate: Incredible fresh food, with a focus on fruits and veggies, that’s free of all things refined, dairy and involving processed sugars. Meals are planned after an allergy and intolerance test.
RightBite: Meal plans are arranged after a consultation with a nutritionist. Packages include low carb, vegan and a RightBite Cleanse. Expect lean meats and loads of veggies.
Best for: Someone who wants an all-around solid meal plan
With numerous meal plan combinations possible and some seriously tasty creations, it’s easy to see why MySixPak is one of the more popular meal plans. There are five packages available, ranging from a female-focused tone-up plan (at 1,300 calories per day) all the way to a men’s bulk-up package (around 3,000 calories a day). Paleo, gluten-free, vegan and other dietary options are catered for, costing from Dh173 per day.
Food is delivered daily to your door in plastic-free packaging. Each bag contains breakfast, lunch, dinner, two snacks, one juice or juice pot, and some sort of protein-packed baked good. The crepes filled with protein cream will make you rethink breakfasts, while dinners include things like harissa grilled salmon with quinoa or marinated wagyu beef with spinach.
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Fuel Up by Kcal: Fresh food focused on performance. You build meals aligned to your macros. Dishes emphasize lean meats, fish and veg.
Pura: Plans range from a cost-effective 1,500-calorie option to a vegan menu, with prices starting at Dh110 per day. There’s even the option for weekend delivery — not that common in meal plans.
Best for: People who like options
This new health-focused spin on Deliveroo is all about the tastiest, cleanest options around the UAE – and happily, they have just launched meal plans for residents in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
“We live in such a fast-paced city, with a wide variety of choices and customers often get overwhelmed with the options, but at the same time get quickly tired of eating the same meals over and over again,” says co-founder Elsy Azzam. “Our tech-advanced solution allows customers to easily order meal plans online and eases their journey throughout their plan.”
The company offers meal plans either from their own range in Abu Dhabi, and in Dubai, where they also offer plans from Smith St Paleo and Eat Well, with vegan and pescatarian options from Little Urth, and cleanses from The Clean Living Co and Organic Juice Press plans. Eat Clean also offers varying tiers of nutritional consultation available, with food delivery is promised within 48 hours. Prices vary, but weekly meal plans are from Dh725 per week.
Danae Mercer is a freelance health and travel journalist. In addition to working as editor-in-chief of Women's Health Middle East and Men's Health Middle East, Danae has written for The Sunday Times, CNN Travel, Dubai Tourism, The Guardian, Afar, Bloomberg and many more. She's based in Dubai and is a trainer at Crank. instagram.com/danaemercer