How many nights a week do you eat out? Don’t estimate. Look at your credit card statement and your calendar for the cold hard truth.

With days at work that NEVER seem to end on time and a calendar overbooked with Junior League committee meetings, book club and soccer tournaments, the last thing you want to do with the rare quiet hour or two on Sunday is make a meal plan and go to the grocery store. When you do manage to make a mad dash through the grocery store on the way home,  you seem to come home with plenty of eggs and bananas but nothing that sounds good for dinner. When your husband asks what’s for dinner it’s easier to say Houlihan’s than admit you have no idea.

You do try to make healthy choices when you dine out.

The Cobb salad seems okay but you forgot to ask for the dressing on the side. When you look it up later on MyFitnessPal you realizes you might as well of had the burger and fries. Plus you may have had a glass of wine (or two). Once a week as a treat that might be okay but over do it several times a week and you’ll find yourself feeling tired and bloated.

You know you need to cook more and healthier but the time to get it right escapes you.

You have stacks of Cooking Light and Cleaning Eating but the last time you tried to plan a menu it took the whole afternoon. At the end of the week you had leftovers no one but you would eat and a science experiment in the produce drawer. (No time to make those stuffed peppers.) Wouldn’t it be nice to have a gourmet meal at home that was healthy, easy and didn’t require you to plan it or stop at the grocery store on the way home?

I know you’ve been told that eating clean means not eating from a box. However, when it comes to healthy meal delivery services Hello Fresh and Green Chef I am going to make an exception.

These two services are the way to cook healthy while taking advantage of the convenience of a box meal delivery service. How they work is simple. Each week a box arrives at your door (you can choose the date) with premeasured, precut ingredients for 3 delicious meals. There is no commitment. You can skip a week when you’re on vacation or just sign up for a few weeks when you have a big deadline at work or you’re out of commission due to knee surgery.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to test drive Hello Fresh and Green Chef recently (thank you to both companies for sending me a complimentary box from their November menu). I felt so spoiled! I love to cook but with writing a new book and prepping for 2016 it felt like I was running out of hours in the day. Not having to think about dinner was one thing “off my plate” when I needed it most.

Here’s the menus I got to sample from Hello Fresh and Green Chef with the pros and cons to help you find the right fit for you.

Hello Fresh
Hello Fresh
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  • Mushroom and Leek Tagliatelle
  • Tuscan Ribollita
  • Curried Thai Rice Bowl

All of the Hello Fresh recipes are co-created with a Registered Dietitian and include the Nutrition Facts on the recipe card. (BONUS: Many of the recipes are already in MyFitnessPal.) The Mushroom and Leek Tagliatelle was the big winner out of ALL the recipes from both boxes (in a blind taste test with a sample of one husband). All the recipes tasted amazing and were super easy to make. The Tuscan Ribollita was super filling and a surprising flavor kick.

PROS: RD approved, amazing variety of flavors, lower price point and a Family Box is available!

CONS: Options are limited to Classic or Veggie box, farm fresh but not organic ingredients and slightly carb heavy. (I added baked tofu to the Curried Thai Rice Bowl to balance it out.)

Green Chef
Green Chef
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  • Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Tempeh with Green Beans & Wild Rice
  • Pumpkin Ziti with Ricotta, Kale, Sage & Walnuts
  • Lentil Chili with Cheddar-Corn Polenta Cakes

My favorite was the Lentil Chili although my polenta cakes really came out more like dumplings. Brian normally HATES green beans but he couldn’t get enough of the green beans cooked in the compound butter. The Pumpkin Ziti easily passed the leftovers test (meaning Brian ate it the next day for lunch instead of ignoring it until nothing was left in the fridge).

PROS: Highly flexible with paleo and gluten free options, organic and non-GMO ingredients and posting pics of your meals on Instagram or Twitter supports Meals on Wheels.

CONS: Prep/cook time is bit confusing (recipes took a bit longer than I thought they would), only calorie counts on the recipe card (you can hunt out the nutritional information on their web site).

Both boxes I received said each recipe feeds two people but I found the serving sizes way too big. Dividing into three servings however was just right and gave me leftovers for lunch the next day! You are also paying for the convenience but it’s not more per person than you would spend on dinner out. (It comes out to less per serving if you divide it into three like I did.)

For me, Hello Fresh was the winner. It fits my budget best and my husband and I both enjoyed the recipes the most. If I needed a service again during a highly hectic time, Hello Fresh would be the first place I would turn to. If you want to give them a try I have a special offer just for you!

Use code RealFit30 and you’ll receive 30% off your first box!

With 3 meals coming to you to cook and serve you can make date night out special again.

Let me know what you think when your box comes? Have you tried either service?

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