Low FODMAP, gluten-free friendly
Large core menu
Good flavor and quality
No weekend support
The idea of a medically-controlled diet doesn’t exactly bring up images of delicious food, but Epicured is a meal delivery service offering tasty choices for folks who need low FODMAP and gluten-free food. Teaming up chefs, dietitians, and doctors, Epicured is seeking to create menus that are functional and flavorful to serve individuals with celiac, IBS, and a variety of other conditions and sensitivities.
We spent a week putting them to the test to see whether they can deliver on deliciousness while supporting those with medical nutrition needs. Keep reading to find out how they fared.
How It Works: Recurring but Repeating
Epicured is a subscription meal service, but it doesn’t work exactly like what we’d typically see from services in this category. Epicured’s selections are a la carte; everything is gluten-free and low FODMAP; and while Epicured does have recurring deliveries, your meals do not vary unless you select that option.
To place an order from Epicured, you first need to create an account, which can be done initially or at checkout. Accounts are created with some basic personal information, delivery location, and payment. There’s no preferences questionnaire, and thus no pre-selected or recommended meals.
Ordering is all individual, with a variety of over 50 total items to choose from at any time across meals, snacks, desserts, and more. There are no subscription options for ordering for larger groups or family-style meals, but you can order as much or as little as you want each week.
Unfortunately, menus don’t seem to rotate much, and there is very little customization. Some meals allow you to choose your protein, but otherwise, the meals are set as is. This makes sense for the level of dietary restrictions, but it does create some limits on portion sizes and variety.
While the least expensive entree on the menu is $9.99, most meals are more in the $12.99 to $18.99 range with some of the seafood entrees running even higher. You’re definitely paying for quality, but this is probably cost-prohibitive for some folks. On top of that, you’ll also pay for your own shipping costs, which vary by location.
When you check out, you may not even realize that you’re being set up for recurring delivery. Also, unless you go in and select different items, Epicured will send you the same exact meals each week on the same day, which is atypical of a meal subscription service. Unless you want the same items you ordered over and over, you’ll have to go in and make edits each week.
Weekly deliveries can be changed, and meals can be edited, skipped, or canceled easily on the website with just a few clicks. You can also edit delivery dates and subscription details online with no fuss.
Choosing Meals: A La Carte
Epicured has an expansive menu, with roughly 30 heat-and-eat entrees, a choice of eight salads, four soups, and over 20 protein, grain, and vegetable sides. There's also a selection of breakfasts, snacks, beverages, and desserts to choose from, and everything on the menu is always low FODMAP and gluten-free.
The menu stays mostly the same, but there are some seasonal additions and specials that are offered with collaborators.
From the menu page, you can view each item's name and price and filter by quite a few different ingredient and nutrient-specific accommodations; this includes quite a few major allergens as well as some health condition-related restrictions above and beyond the baseline gluten-free and low FODMAP guidelines for each dish. Certain items allow for customers to choose which protein they prefer, usually offering tofu, a poultry option, a fish option, and a beef option, but no other customizations are really available.
You can either add items to your cart individually or select from Epicured’s many themed meal bundles, which include options like the “freezer filler,” which gives an assortment of freezer-friendly meals, the “summer bundle,” which offers seasonal selections, or one of the multi-day bundles of meals that include just the right amount of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.
Once your cart is as full as you like it, simply check out and select your delivery day. Just make sure any edits to your recurring orders are made by 1 p.m. ET on Friday for the following week.
What We Made
We chose a selection of items that included some seasonal, popular choices as well as some that required heating and some that did not. Overall, we ended up with five entree choices to give us a look at Epicured’s culinary offerings.
- Hawker lettuce wraps, peanuts
- Chicken tikka masala, basmati rice
- Tierra salad with chicken, mint vinaigrette
- Montauk crab cakes, fingerling potatoes, classic slaw, paprika aioli
- Chicken pad thai, chiang mai sauce
Support Materials: Reheating Instructions and Diet Info
Included in the delivery was a single page of reheating instructions for the order, detailing the best way to reheat the food in that order. This mostly mirrored information on the package and on the website, and so was a bit redundant, but we did reach for it once or twice. In addition to that, Epicured sent some pamphlets on health conditions and other related information but nothing else designed to help maximize the food experience.
To supplement what comes in the package, there is also an abundance of information on the Epicured website and blog. There were lots of helpful resources on the low FODMAP and gluten-free diets, food lists, and even cheat sheets. Not much of it is really geared toward enhancing the eating experience from a cooking perspective, but it would be helpful for folks on these diets who are looking to learn more.
Packaging: Mostly Recyclable, Mostly Plastic
Aside from the cardboard box that the meals arrived in, nearly every other piece of packaging was recyclable plastic. Additional packaging for shipping included a PET plastic, recyclable liner, an additional cardboard insert, and several ice packs made from nontoxic waterproof gel that must be discarded in the trash, and flexible #4 plastic that can be recycled if you find a location that does so.
Packaging information is outlined on the Epicured website and discusses how the individual meal containers are made of PP (Polypropylene plastic), which is recyclable as well as dishwasher safe and reusable. However, they do each have a label and adhesive band around them, which need to be discarded.
The Cooking Process: Heat and Eat
We ordered a mix of items from Epicured, some that required heating and some designed to be eaten cold. The items that were eaten straight from the refrigerator are recommended to be eaten first, so we did.
For the items that required heating, we followed the instructions provided and found the meals to be evenly heated and tasty. In some cases, certain meal components had to be separated but we appreciated the detail given for this. The meals mostly rely on the microwave for heating and take at most about 5 minutes. Meals can easily be heated by a beginner cook with little to no experience, and with little to no kitchen equipment.
Flavor, Freshness, and Quality: Fresh, Quality Meals
Given the nature of Epicured’s platform and the restrictions included, we didn’t have the highest expectations for flavor and texture. While we weren’t necessarily blown away by everything we tried, we were pleasantly surprised by how well it delivered on taste, freshness, and quality.
With very few exceptions, everything that we ordered was tasty, well-seasoned, and balanced. We didn’t feel the need to adjust the flavors or add any “support condiments” to the mix. The sauces and dressings from Epicured go a long way to creating these satisfying meals.
We also enjoyed the freshness and quality of the ingredients on offer. Raw vegetables were crisp with no visible issues, and meat and fish all tasted fresh and had great texture.
The only area we think Epicured didn’t always nail was with some of the textures. Through no fault of its own, this service is limited by the products available in the marketplace at this level of diet restriction, and the unavoidable issue of reheating. Certain textures that you would expect, where gluten could provide a lot of help with mouthfeel, are just really tough to get without it. While Epicured’s version served as a good substitute, it was clear that we were eating gluten-free food at some points, and reheating food certainly did not help this cause.
Nutritional Value: Low FODMAP, Gluten-Free, and More
Nutrition considerations are paramount to Epicured, and its meals are designed for folks with food sensitivity issues such as IBS, Crohn’s disease, colitis, celiac disease, and other sensitivities or conditions. Epicured has a menu composed with great care and attention to detail, overseen by licensed health professionals. Each meal is low FODMAP and includes allergen information and even Monash disclosures, indicating how many grams of certain ingredients that would impact FODMAP status are present.
Epicured also provides vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian choices as well as filters for seven major allergens (dairy, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and soy). As far as nutritional needs, Epicured’s menu also includes items that are low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein, and even calories.
While there may not be a lot to choose from in all of these categories, we do appreciate that so much has been considered from this perspective and that health professionals seem to be so involved in the process of menu and recipe development.
Epicured Is Good For
IBS and celiac patients rejoice: Epicured is here to rescue you.
Nutrition considerations are paramount to Epicured, and its meals are designed for folks with food sensitivity issues such as IBS, Crohn’s disease, colitis, celiac disease, and other sensitivities or conditions.
Epicured Is Not Good For
Epicured could definitely get expensive for a larger group, and for those who don’t need to eat gluten-free or low FODMAP, the options may not be as satisfying.
Add-ons: Abundant Options
Everything is a la carte, so you can order as much or as little as you want, and there is a fair amount to choose from outside of hot, savory, entree-style meals. Epicured’s menu also includes fresh salads, cooked sides of vegetables, simply prepared proteins, snacks, desserts, breakfast options, and even some smoothies and juices.
Customer Service: Minimal Support
Most of our general questions were answered in the succinct and clear FAQ section and while we didn’t have any major issues that required outreach to customer service, we did seek out other general information by contacting customer service. Given the options of email, phone call, or chat, we opted for the live chat.
Unfortunately, Epicured does not offer any weekend or after-hours customer service support, so we had to wait until regular business hours to get our question answered. While the customer service team may be helpful for questions related to the nuts and bolts of delivery and subscription options, they weren’t very helpful for diet-related questions.
While we don’t think the typical customer service staff should be answering diet-related questions, we were a little surprised that there was no dietitian to whom we could pose questions about the meals, FODMAP levels, and Monash disclosures. Given the nature of the service Epicured is providing, we anticipated an extra level of support here that we didn’t get.
Most of our general questions were answered in the succinct and clear FAQ section.
Making Changes and Canceling: Easy and Online
Epicured doesn’t allow customization, and once your order is placed there’s no way to update it, but you can edit your weekly selections on the website with ease. You can plan out your meals up to four weeks ahead of time, and skip weeks or cancel altogether with just a few clicks on the website. Make your changes before the Friday deadline and you should be good to go.
The Competition: Epicured vs. Seattle Sutton
Epicured and Seattle Sutton both create meals designed for specialty diet considerations with the help of registered dietitians and other health experts, but these services cater to very different dietary needs and deliver a distinct product and experience.
Meals from Epicured are all low FODMAP and gluten-free for folks who are sensitive to certain types of fiber and gluten, while Seattle Sutton’s main focus area is calorie balance. Epicured also provides over 14 filters to choose from across dietary restrictions, one of which is a calorie maximum, while Seattle Sutton gives only calorie ranges and the ability to select a vegetarian plan.
These companies also differ in how much control you have in determining your actual food choices. While Seattle Sutton offers a set menu each week based on the calorie totals, there is no other input allowed from the user. While a set menu may work for some, Epicured’s a la carte style is a stark contrast. Order as much as you like from Epicured and change up your items as much as you like to meet your needs.
Neither service gave us total perfection in terms of flavor and texture, however, we did feel Epicured ultimately did better here. Seattle Sutton didn’t give us the freshness or the deliciousness we wanted, and while Epicured did have a few misses, it did have a few great hits as well.
Lastly, we did experience differences in customer service. For such strict diet-related services, we expected to see dietitians and healthcare professionals in the mix, not just in menu creation but also in customer outreach. With Epicured, we were a bit let down here but with Seattle Sutton we had a great interaction with the in-house registered dietitians and received excellent and fast support.
Epicured’s meals may be clinical grade, but this is no hospital food. We love that this service has the guts to take a more gourmet approach to food in the face of strict diets. Even though it’s not always a perfect eating experience, we think anyone who needs a gluten free or low FODMAP diet (and who can afford it) would have a lot to be excited for with the options from Epicured.
We spent numerous 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.
The criteria we used to evaluate each company included:
- 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 Epicured
- Lowest Price per Serving $10.99
- Number of Diets Served 14
- Number of Recipes 30
- Delivery Area 48 states
- Serving Sizes Available 1