Pros and Cons
Healthful, balanced, low-calorie meals
Provides breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks
Frozen food may not appeal to everyone
Limited dietary accommodation
No allergy accommodation
Can't choose your delivery day
BistroMD is a meal delivery subscription service focused on supporting weight loss. A family business, BistroMD is led by a husband-and-wife team; she's a bariatric physician and he's the CEO and resident foodie. Offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the company boasts a large selection of frozen, scientifically balanced meals, as well as an array of modestly indulgent snacks, all packaged into a variety of different programs for specific dietary needs. In addition to the standard program, BistroMD offers heart health, diabetes, men's, women's, menopause, and gluten-free programs.
With supermarkets packed with frozen meals, including healthful and low-calorie options, we were curious to see whether BistroMD brought something unique to the table. We tried 10 meals—a week's worth of single-serving lunches and dinners. Read on to learn about our experience with this meal delivery service.
How It Works: Weekly Delivery of Frozen Meals
Signing up for BistroMD is painless. First, select a program (standard, heart healthy, etc). Next, select your plan to determine how many meals you'll get per week and whether you wish to receive breakfast, or only lunch and dinner. You can get meals for every day of the week or for only five days, with or without breakfast and/or snacks. The maximum you can order is breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus snacks, for every day of the week. The minimum you can order is lunch and dinner—without snacks—for five days of the week. Unlike other meal delivery services we've tried, it's not possible to change your plan with just a few clicks in account settings. With BistroMD, you must submit a request, so keep this in mind when making your initial selections.
Once you've signed up, BistroMD will send you one shipment every week. You can't choose your delivery day, but BistroMD does provide a delivery window. While the site breaks down which meals you'll eat on day one, day two, and so on, there's no need to follow this guide. Your frozen meals will arrive all together in a big box. When you eat them is up to you.
The meals from BistroMD are fully prepped and arrive frozen in small plastic trays.
The meals from BistroMD are fully prepped and arrive frozen in small plastic trays. All you have to do is reheat using a microwave or a conventional oven. If you get breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, keep in mind that you'll need space in the freezer for all that food. There are no customization options, only the option to swap one meal for another. If there are meals you never want to receive, you can remove these from the rotation. You can do this in the Preferences area of the My Menu tab.
In terms of its approach to weight loss, the BistroMD diet is essentially a high-protein, low-calorie diet that's designed to help you burn fat while maintaining your body's proportion of lean muscle. It is characterized by the following macronutrient profile: 20-25 percent fat, 30-35 percent carbohydrate, and 40-50 percent protein. BistroMD takes a mostly omnivorous approach and thus isn't great for followers of vegetarian, vegan, paleo, or keto diets.
Choosing Meals: Plenty of Options
BistroMD chooses meals for you from its weekly menu of more than 150 items. The lunch and dinner menus have about 60 choices each. The breakfast and snack menus are smaller, with about 40 selections each. Your options for meal substitutions are drawn from two lists. The first (shorter) list is composed of options that are nutritionally equivalent to BistroMD's original selection. The second (longer) list contains 40-60 selections that are equally healthful, but may slightly alter your week's total calorie count and macronutrient breakdown.
What We Made
We only tried BistroMD's lunch and dinner items. We ordered five days' worth—a total of 10 meals.
- California-style beef sliders
- Chicken bacon mac & cheese
- Salmon with dill mustard sauce
- Beef chipotle chili with corn pudding
- Broccoli cheddar stuffed chicken
- Beef steak & ale stew
- Hickory smoked BBQ pork with broccoli
- Turkey breast with herbed brown gravy
- Chicken sausage & pepperoni calzone
- Crustless chicken and pepperoni pizza
Support Materials: Consult With a Dietitian and More
Included with your first delivery is a printout of your weekly menu, along with a glossy brochure presenting tips on things like optimum daily water intake and a healthful approach to dining out in restaurants. A PDF of this brochure is also available on the website in the Support tab.
The Support tab is where most of BistroMD's support materials are located. There's another 12-page PDF titled "The DIY Healthy Plan Guide" aimed at helping you take over where BistroMD leaves off. It includes pointers for shopping, meal plan ideas, and a smoothie recipe. The site also has a blog—which BistroMD calls a "health library"—a link to a private Facebook group, a comprehensive library of FAQs, and a text-support feature that automatically sends encouraging words and inspirational images to your phone. Our first message featured a picture of a woman on a beautiful beach, with text over the image reading, "Don't make change too complicated. Just begin."
Additional support from registered dietitians is available. You can book a phone consultation with a dietitian or correspond with one by email. There are dietitian-led webinars with titles like "How to Navigate Summer Social Events" and "Smart Goal Setting."
Packaging: Typical for Frozen Meals
Because the meals are fully prepped, BistroMD uses less packaging than meal kit delivery services. The outer box is made from recycled cardboard. Inside, the meals are wrapped in insulation made from natural fiber (primarily cotton) that is reusable (the shipping FAQ has a link to tips for reuse) and compostable. Dry ice in plastic bags keeps everything cool. The meals themselves arrive frozen in plastic trays, sealed with plastic film. An outer sleeve of recycled cardboard—printed with heating instructions, ingredients, and nutritional information—identifies the meal.
The Cooking Process: Heat and Eat
All of BistroMD's meals are fully cooked; you need only reheat them. For best results, the company recommends thawing the meals overnight in the refrigerator before microwaving. This is the route we took with most of our meals. Sometimes the process varies. We heated the calzone, for instance, in the toaster oven, but microwaved the broccoli that came with it. When the meals first arrived, there was no time to thaw them in the refrigerator and so we heated them in the conventional oven. We did not notice a difference, other than the speed, of course, between the microwaved meals and those that were reheated in the regular oven.
Flavor, Freshness, and Quality: Mixed
Freshness and quality were fine, but we found the flavor to be hit and miss. That said, some of the meals were really good. We especially enjoyed the hickory-smoked BBQ pork with broccoli and the beef chipotle chili with corn pudding—we put fried eggs on top and ate it for breakfast. Delicious. The broccoli cheddar stuffed chicken was surprisingly adequate, and the turkey breast with herbed brown gravy was just fine. All other items, while edible, left something to be desired. The chicken bacon mac & cheese suffered from an odd texture. The crustless chicken and pepperoni pizza did not remotely resemble pizza. Everything else was forgettable.
That said, there were no freshness issues; the food was of good quality; and the balance of protein and vegetables left us feeling satisfied. But you'll probably want to keep the salt shaker and a bottle of hot sauce close at hand.
Nutritional Value: Dialed in for Weight Loss
Nutritional value is BistroMD's raison d'etre. The company aims for a macronutrient breakdown of roughly 40-45 percent lean protein, 30-35 percent complex carbohydrates, and 20-25 percent healthy fat. The meals generally eschew refined carbohydrates. None of our meals were over 400 calories. According to BistroMD, members following the program lose an average of 1-2 pounds per week.
To get the most out of the program, the company recommends including its selection of protein-based snacks.
BistroMD Is Good For
Relatively omnivorous people looking for a convenient way to manage their diet will get the most value from BistroMD.
BistroMD Is Not Good For
People with dietary restrictions—vegan, vegetarian, keto, and so on—and those who enjoy cooking probably won't like BistroMD.
Add-ons: Just the Snacks
BistroMD doesn't really offer add-ons. The service does offer—in fact, encourages—snacks as part of its program, but they aren't add-ons in the sense that most services use that term.
We especially enjoyed the hickory-smoked BBQ pork with broccoli and the beef chipotle chili with corn pudding—we put fried eggs on top and ate it for breakfast. Delicious.
Customer Service: Prompt and Friendly
Because we signed up on Memorial Day, BistroMD was closed. And since the company gives you a delivery window rather than a specific day, we weren't sure whether our meals would arrive that same week or the following week. We reached out to customer service the next day, but the phone system was busy. To avoid waiting on the phone, we requested a callback. Ten minutes later, an agent returned our call and explained everything. It was an easy, friendly experience, and very helpful. BistroMD also provides customer service via email.
Making Changes And Canceling: Mostly Easy
It's easy to make changes, cancel your plan, or skip deliveries. All can be accomplished on the BistroMD site with a few clicks. However, you must contact support to make even temporary changes to your delivery address. You must also contact customer service to put your account on permanent hold. In all cases, the deadline for making any changes is 5 p.m. ET on the Wednesday ahead of each week's delivery.
The Competition: BistroMD vs. Snap Kitchen
Both Snap Kitchen and BistroMD deliver fully-cooked, healthful meals, but that's where the similarities end. Snap Kitchen delivers fresh meals while BistroMD's meals are frozen. Snap Kitchen offers a maximum of 12 meals per week, while BistroMD will deliver up to 20 meals per week, plus snacks. Snap Kitchen is slightly more indulgent, with higher calorie counts and more refined carbohydrates. BistroMD, on the other hand, is consistently driven by a scientific approach to nutrition, with dietitian support to boot.
For some, frozen meals, no matter how good, are a deal-breaker. There's just no substitute for fresh home cooking. Still, after trying BistroMD for a week, we could certainly see the advantage of lightning-quick preparation with almost zero cleanup. And while the meals were slightly hit or miss, there were some surprising winners.
Moreover, we felt well-fed and satisfied. And once we caught on to the necessity of adding our own salt, pepper, and hot sauce, the flavors improved. If you're looking for an ultra-convenient way to manage your weight and you don't mind giving up fresh home cooking, then BistroMD might be a great fit, especially with all the weight-loss support.
We spent countless hours looking through 48 meal delivery services’ websites, ordered meals and cooked them at home, photographed the process, spoke with customer service representatives from the companies, filled out detailed surveys about each company and their meals, and wrote in-depth reviews and comparison articles. Our expert panel includes dieticians, chefs, and longtime food writers. The one thing they all have in common is their love and knowledge of food.
Among the criteria we used to evaluate each company were:
- The ordering process
- Meal selection
- Packaging and support materials
- The cooking process
- The flavor, freshness, and quality of each meal and ingredient
- Nutritional information
- Customer service
- Product Name BistroMD
- Lowest Price per Serving $9.49
- Number of Diets Served 5
- Number of Recipes 150+
- Delivery Area 48 states
- Serving Sizes Available 1