In partnership with Thistle.
To those of you who have conquered meal prep, I've got one question… how?
No matter the dogged optimism I feel that come Monday I'll have my ducks in a row, I've never been able to give up my time to make-ahead cooking. Portioning brown rice for the week is, without exaggeration, the last thing I want to do on a Sunday. Isn't the whole joy of cooking immediately tasting the rewards?!
But clean eating is still a huge priority for me, which means that nearly every weekday I'm faced with the same conundrum: sacrifice nutrition for something easy and convenient, or fall behind on my to-dos to make an actually healthy meal? Options that are both nutritious and easily on-hand are alarmingly few and far between. And as someone trying to eat more plant-based foods, I'm often trapped between binging on empty carbs and spending my lunch hour trying to wring a miracle out of my produce drawer.
Which is why Thistle instantly caught my eye. A delicious, convenient, plant-forward meal delivery service, Thistle prepares everything from hearty meals to cold-pressed juices fully under the guidance of professional nutritionists. The meals that arrive are 100% prepped and ready to eat, delivering the convenience of Postmates without the refined sugars, dairy or gluten that usually come along with it.
While I'd dabbled in the meal delivery realm before with mixed results, most brands marketed themselves strictly for dinnertime. With an all-day model spanning breakfast, lunch, and dinner alike, Thistle seemed better suited to my daily time crunch. As soon as I went on the brand’s site, I found an entire week's worth of options laid out for me to choose between. And that's when the fun started.
MIX AND MATCH
Crucially for me, Thistle's plans are totally customizable. The first question the site asked when I started the process was not how many meals I wanted per week, but how many breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically. A small but hugely helpful distinction! I was able to de-emphasize the dinners, which I'm usually happy to cook myself, and load up on daytime meals, quickly racking up discounts per meal the more I added to my cart.
On the next page, I was offered a choice between plant-based protein only, meat only, or a mix of both. Prices are slightly higher for the meat-based options, but never exceed $17.24 per meal, with discounts down to $11.50 per meal when you add more to your order and/or go veggie.
While I usually love a good "all of the above" moment, I went with plant-based only, excited to open my eyes to foods I wouldn't ordinarily make for myself. With a guarantee that these meals still deliver an average of 20g+ of protein in each serving, from a mix of tofu, nuts, seeds, veggies and ancient grains, even the gym rat in me had nothing to complain about.
And before jumping into meal selection, I was also given the opportunity to flag any shellfish, fish, coconut, peanuts, soy, pork or tree nut allergies. If you're worried the brand is missing some of the more high-profile allergens, that's because all of Thistle's meals are already free from dairy, eggs, gluten, refined white sugars, plus artificial additives of any kind.
With all of that out of the way, it was time to put together my actual order. The Thistle meal page is truly an embarrassment of riches, with daily menus that are as gorgeous as they are thoughtfully curated, plus pre-batched salads, juices and snack kits to satisfy every craving under the sun. Dumbstruck by how badly I wanted to try it all, I loaded up on a few offerings from every category (for research's sake, of course…).
The Thistle meal page is truly an embarrassment of riches, with daily menus that are as gorgeous as they are thoughtfully curated, plus pre-batched salads, juices and snack kits to satisfy every craving under the sun.
Before I knew it – after a helpful text from Thistle letting me know my delivery was en route – waiting on my porch were three bags that would keep me fed for days to come.
WHAT A HAUL
Unboxing Thistle was both painlessly easy and undeniably exciting. With each meal individually packaged and labeled, down to which day and time it corresponded to (Monday lunch, Tuesday breakfast, etc.), I was able to stack them by calendar order. One less decision to worry about when hunger strikes.
Speaking of packaging, I was also pleased to see the containers are no bigger than they need to be: the food fits very snugly inside, with no sense of egregious waste. Not only are the containers recyclable, but the jars are also reusable -- and the delivery bags and ice packs are also either yours to keep, or can be picked up by Thistle delivery persons to reduce clutter.
For astronomically less than I would've spent on a week of delivery or takeout, I now had a house full of ready-made meals to look forward to.
For astronomically less than I would've spent on a week of delivery or takeout, I now had a house full of ready-made meals to look forward to. The vast majority of them were designed to be eaten straight from the fridge, but with even the heating instructions calling for just a few minutes in a skillet, I could spend my time savoring the meals instead of racing to prepare them.
And oh did I savor.
Without recounting every single meal in Technicolor detail, I'll start by saying it was a week full of constant variety. While my own homemade efforts always fall back on tried-and-true staples (shoutout to tuna salad with Wheat Thins), suddenly I was having breakfasts and lunches full of spice, texture, and high-quality ingredients.
On Monday I started my day with the Tropical Passionfruit Smoothie, lingered at lunchtime on the Chopped Refreshing Garden Salad and tucked into the Preserved Lemon & Squash Bowl at dinner. The next day I was onto the Tofu Chilaquiles, Ramen Salad with Sesame Edamame, and the Thistle Ragu Pasta Bowl with Tofu Bolognese. The hits just kept coming, with enough changes in protein and format that each mealtime was a genuinely new experience.
Throughout the days, whenever I was feeling peckish I had snacks like the Creamy Yellow Split Pea Hummus with Crudités, salads like the Kale and Quinoa Caesar, and an array of juices ranging from Power Greens to Watermelon to keep hunger at bay. And as nice as it is that they assign the meals a day of the week, you better believe you can mix and match! The name of the game here is total flexibility.
While there's a certain virtuousness associated with making our own foods, the end goal of that approach is to be in touch with what we eat instead of mindlessly inhaling processed products. But unlike other meal deliveries, each Thistle meal has the nutritional info and full ingredient list so prominently displayed that I knew exactly what I was eating at every turn. With a commitment to providing nutritious whole foods, my Thistle order was healthier and more thoughtfully sourced than anything I would've whipped up myself.
So when it came time to dive into an ongoing delivery plan, you already know I smashed that Subscribe. And if you're like me – hungry, busy and ready for some plant-powered nutrition – I have a feeling you will too.
5 MORE REASONS TO GET THISTLING:
1. With flavors inspired by everywhere from North Africa to Southeast Asia, Thistle curates globally inspired menus that surprise and delight.
2. There's no commitment when signing up – pausing and canceling is as easy as the push of a button.
3. Got a sudden craving? You can add meals or edit your upcoming delivery every week via Thistle's site.
4. Eating a plant-forward diet is broadly known to be one of the most impactful things you do to reduce your environmental footprint.
5. With that same eco-consciousness in mind, Thistle partners with local farmers and producers to source their ingredients in sustainable and regenerative ways.