Pete’s Real Food Review

Fresh Meals Made Specifically for Paleo Eaters

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Pete’s Real Food

beef, sweet potatoes, and spinach on a white plate

The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  • Menu changes weekly

  • Organic ingredients and pasture-raised meats

  • Flexible portions

  • Expensive

  • Nutrition information not always available online

Pete’s Real Food is a great choice for active people who are not on a strict budget, appreciate good food, and would rather exercise than cook. The chef-driven, fully prepared meals are built on pasture-raised proteins and organic vegetables, ideal for those on a paleo, keto, or AIP-friendly diet, and rotate on a weekly basis so there’s always something new to try.


Pete’s Real Food

beef, sweet potatoes, and spinach on a white plate

The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

The name Pete’s Real Food is your first clue that this meal delivery service was created with active folks in mind. Paleo diets gained popularity alongside CrossFit, which promotes compound exercises that use several muscle groups, and carbohydrate-free diets centered on grass-fed meats, vegetables, and healthy fats. That’s why Pete’s Real Food builds in an extra portion option on all of its heat-and-eat meals, perfect for those bulking up, and a “lite” option for those watching their calorie intake.

But what the company really prides itself on is its chef-driven menu. The 10 weekly rotating options sound like they belong in a fancy restaurant, no surprise considering founder-chef Peter Servold trained at Le Cordon Bleu and worked in the restaurant industry for 15 years. With its nutritious meals grounded in sustainable ingredients, delivered to you fully cooked and ready to heat, we couldn’t help but wonder if Pete’s Real Food was too good to be true, or even just worth the $16 per meal price tag. We had to give it a try. Read on to find out what we thought.

We spent months researching, ordering, testing, eating, and writing about 40 different meal delivery services. Our testers wrote in-depth reviews and filled out detailed surveys about each company, which we used to assign an overall score to each one.

Learn More: Read Our Full Methodology

How It Works: Fully Cooked Meals for Any Appetite

Pete’s Real Food is a subscription-only service, as there is no à la carte ordering allowed unless you opt for one of the bundles: lite, breakfast, or “Eat What You Love” (which only ships frozen meals). That said, customers can easily pause, skip, or cancel their subscription at any time.

The Classic Meal plan offers hearty portions of about 12 ounces of food per meal, all built on pastured meats and organic vegetables. Signing up was easy—we just clicked the “start here” button and followed the on-screen instructions. We could order five, 10, or 14 single-serving meals, or five family-style, four-serving meals, delivered once a week or every other week. We couldn’t pick our meals, but we could opt for extra portions of proteins and sides, and indicate pork or no pork. After adding the plan to our cart, we were prompted to add bone broth or bacon to the order. A minimum order of five meals costs around $18 each, but the price reduces to around $16 per meal when ordering 14 meals.

As new customers, we found the links to the other meal plans buried at the bottom of the site, but once we created an account they became part of the options whenever we clicked “start here.” There’s the Lite plan with fewer meal options per week (around seven) and smaller portion sizes; the Breakfast Bundle, which offers about five fresh breakfast options and can be added onto any plan a la carte or as a subscription; and the Eat What You Love plan, which is the only way to choose the exact meals you want. They only come frozen, but you can select meals that accommodate AIP diets and the meals can be ordered on top of any subscribed plan.

Orders always ship out on Wednesdays and need to be in by Sunday at midnight PT. Shipping is usually via Fed Ex, and orders arrive in one to two days. Pete’s Real Food delivers anywhere FedEx can go. We found that all plans (even the smallest) offer free shipping to addresses near big hubs, such as Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, or near the company's San Diego and Atlanta kitchens.

Otherwise, no matter what size plan you choose, it’s $9.99—but customers won’t know what their shipping costs will be until they’re about to finish checking out. By the way, the company strongly encourages those in remote areas to upgrade to express shipping to avoid potential spoilage issues due to potentially longer transit times.

Choosing Meals: Not for Picky Eaters

Unlike most meal delivery services, which let you select your favorites from a lengthy list of options, the Pete’s Real Food Classic plan offers just 10 lunch or dinner meals per week, and they’re chosen for you. If you opt for the minimum order of five individual or family-size meals, you’ll have to take what the company sends you. If you go for one of the other two subscription options—10 or 14 single-serving meals—you’ll presumably get one of each.

This take-what-we-send-you approach can be problematic for picky eaters and those with strict food needs. There’s no way to filter the options for things you don’t want. But you can click the “no pork” button when ordering. And since the meals are paleo, they’re automatically free of grains, dairy, simple carbohydrates, sugar, and even soy and other legumes. But that means they also always contain animal protein, so vegetarians have to fuel up elsewhere. If you really chafe at the idea of not choosing your meals, the Eat What You Want plan lets you select from an assortment of frozen meals in stock that season.

Though the weekly menu may be small, it changes each week and gets a complete overhaul every few months to take advantage of seasonal produce. The seasonal lineup is listed online, usually with nutritional information, but not always. The company does have a disclaimer, too, about making substitutions without warning based on what ingredients are available.

five prepared meals in black trays

The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

What We Ordered 

We ordered the minimum of five meals and had no idea what we would be sent. It was actually a bit disconcerting to not know what was coming. Luckily, we received a range of proteins to try.

  • Penang curry chicken with lots of turmeric
  • Honey and rosemary glazed pork tenderloin with charred rutabaga and zucchini
  • Beef and shallot shepherd's pie with sweet potato and broccoli
  • Lemon and leek chicken sausage with broccoli and Swiss chard
  • Kale, summer squash, and beef lasagna 

Support Materials: None Needed

Since there’s no cooking involved, the only thing that came in our box were the meals. Labels on the back of the trays listed the name of the meal, ingredients, and heating instructions.

Packaging: Mostly Recyclable

Pete’s Real Food prides itself on sourcing sustainable ingredients, so it makes sense that it takes care to use as many recyclable materials as possible. The meals came in a cardboard box insulated with thick batting made of recycled cotton, which was wrapped in plastic to keep it from getting wet. Gel packs kept the contents cold. The meals themselves were packaged on plastic trays and vacuum-sealed in plastic film.

Only the contents of the gel packs ended up in the garbage. We were able to recycle the box, the plastic trays, as well as the plastic from the gel packs, and the plastic from the insulation liners in our curbside recycling, although not all areas recycle these types of plastic. The cotton batting we took to our local H&M store, which accepts textiles for recycling, but it could also be composted.

a cardboard delivery box with meals and an ice pack

The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

The Cooking Process: Just Heat and Eat

The meals arrive individually portioned for a single serving, vacuum-sealed in plastic, with a back label that includes heating instructions. There’s no need to puncture the plastic or lift a corner. Just put the whole tray in the microwave and heat for about 1 minute, 30 seconds. Since the meals are fresh, not frozen, they are ready in no time (though if you do order the frozen meals, they’ll take 4 to 5 minutes to heat). The plastic film blows up like a bubble and traps the steam. The label also includes sauteeing instructions for those who don’t have a microwave.

The company strongly encourages those in remote areas to upgrade to express shipping to avoid potential spoilage issues due to potentially longer transit times.

Flavor, Freshness, and Quality: Inconsistent

We enjoyed some of our meals, but not others. The Panang curry chicken tasted only vaguely Thai, but the chicken was tender, the vegetables perfectly cooked, and in the end, it was filling and well-seasoned. The beef in the “lasagna” was almost aggressively salty, but at least it wasn’t bland, and you can’t go wrong with beef, veggies, and tomatoes. The ground beef in the shepherd’s pie was also very salty, but the sweetness of the sweet potato provided a good counterpoint, resulting in an ultimately tasty dish.

The pork loin dish was slightly less successful. The pork was nice and tender but bland, the rutabaga was oddly spiced in a way we couldn’t identify and didn’t enjoy, and the squash was on the soggy side. Our least favorite dish was the chicken sausage and chard. The sausage had zero flavor and the chard tasted grassy. It was as if the chefs forgot to flavor any component of the dish.

chicken and colorful vegetables on a plate

The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

Nutritional Value: Good for Active People

Each meal offers under 30g of carbohydrates and comes with 5 ounces protein and two, 3.5-ounce side dishes of vegetables. We found them to be very filling, and because they didn’t include added sugar or simple carbs like bread or pasta, we didn’t feel sluggish or bloated after eating. For those who are really active, you can add extra protein and sides. For lighter appetites, the Lite plan offers meals with 3.5 ounces of protein and two 2.5 ounces of cooked sides.

The lightest meal in our bunch was the pasta-less lasagna with 260 calories, 15g of fat, 23g of protein, and 11g of carbohydrates. At the other end of the spectrum was the Panang curry chicken at 440 calories, 23g of fat, 34g of protein, and 21g of carbohydrates. The stats for the other three dishes hovered in between the two. These are definitely not low-fat meals,  but the fats are healthy and don’t seem heavy, greasy, or gratuitous. To us, they seem designed to fuel active people and keep them feeling satiated.

The meals came in a cardboard box insulated with thick batting made of recycled cotton, which was wrapped in plastic to keep it from getting wet.

Pete’s Real Food Is Good For

Busy singles or couples who workout regularly, whether they’re lifting weights in a gym or racking up miles on a run, will appreciate the nutritious, protein-packed, grain-free Paleo meals that require no effort to heat up.

Pete’s Real Food Is Not Good For

Anyone on a tight budget might balk at the $16 and up price tag for each meal. And if you’re trying to cut back on your meat consumption, this isn’t the service for you. The same is true for those who don’t like giving up control of their meals, since you can’t choose your own.

Add-ons: A Few Options

There’s an array of extras we could have added on to our order, including slice-it-yourself bacon cured without sugar, bone broth, breakfast bundles, frozen meals, and merchandise like t-shirts, a cookbook, and a breakfast cookbook in ebook form.

Customer Service: Responsive

The Pete’s Real Food FAQ section goes deep on answers to frequently asked questions, including infographics. And we got a steady stream of informative emails after placing our order, including tracking information, notices when our box was out for delivery, and when it was actually delivered. Even so, our inbox wasn’t spammed with useless junk.

Customers can call the company during business hours or fill out an online form. We did the latter on a Monday afternoon and got a response in six minutes. The emailed response listed an email address and a new phone number. Weeks later we reached out to the email address with a different question and it took far longer to get a response. We tried the online form again and received a response in four minutes.

Making Changes and Canceling: Very Easy

Any changes we needed to make, whether it was our delivery address, payment info, delivery frequency, or canceling entirely, could be made in the My Account section under Manage Subscriptions. It’s just a few clicks. We first skipped the next shipment, which was easy. When we canceled, we were asked to provide a reason but that's it.

The Competition: Pete’s Real Food vs. Paleo on the Go

Both Pete’s Real Food and Paleo on the Go (POTG) specialize in meals for people following a paleo diet. That means no grains, sugar, simple carbohydrates, or dairy—just lots of animal protein and vegetables. Both prioritize organic ingredients and only use grass-fed meats, although Paleo on the Go sources organic “whenever possible” while Pete’s Real Food only uses organic produce. Both deliver to all 50 states.

But fundamentally, the services are very different—starting with the price. Pete’s Real Food seems pricey at an average of $16 per meal, but POTG meals cost $18 to $22 for entrees. Not only that, but shipping is a whopping $50 to those on the West Coast. Pete’s Real Food is primarily a subscription service focusing on single servings of full meals, chosen for you, and delivered fresh, whereas POTG’s entire heat-and-eat menu of frozen foods can be ordered just once or as a subscription, and you can choose whatever you like, including cookies, cakes, muffins, and sauces. In fact, POTG seems to specialize in paleo versions of baked goods. You won’t find those at Pete’s Real Food.

Final Verdict

Pete’s Real Food is a solid choice for those who have made a commitment to following a paleo diet but don’t have the time, energy, or know-how to make their own meals on a regular basis. The service keeps the lineup of ready-to-heat meals interesting and seasonal, and they’re made with wholesome, sustainable ingredients. Cost-wise, it can be a budget-buster for some, and customers can’t choose their own meals, but if your main goal is to eat healthy and stay active, Pete’s Real Food can help you stay on track.


Our testers ordered from, cooked, and rated 40 different meal delivery services. We carefully scored each one based on meal selection, nutritional information, sustainability, and customer service, as well as the flavor, freshness, and quality of each meal and ingredient. Our Spruce Eats tester panel includes dietitians, 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
  • Recyclability
  • The cooking process
  • The flavor, freshness, and quality of each meal and ingredient
  • Nutritional information
  • Customer service


  • Product Name Pete’s Real Food
  • Lowest Price per Serving $16
  • Number of Diets Served 2
  • Number of Recipes 10
  • Delivery Area 50 states
  • Serving Sizes Available 1, 4