Dinnerly is a budget, no-frills meal kit service operated by Marley Spoon. They deliver a box full of fresh ingredients for you to cook each week, making your weekly cooking easier.
I love Dinnerly, as I make clear in my review of Dinnerly, but cheaper meals are often associated with being unhealthy – just think of McDonalds!
So, is it possible to save money on your shopping, whilst eating healthy and losing weight through Dinnerly? Let’s find out.
If you haven’t got time to read the full article, you need to know that whilst Dinnerly is not specially designed for dieting, they do offer a selection of around 12 meals each week under their ‘balanced’, ‘reduced-carb’, and ‘low-calorie’ ranges that would be suitable for anyone looking to lose weight.
What should you be eating to lose weight?
Losing weight is a complicated and difficult path for many, with plenty of pitfalls and ‘gurus’ who sell the latest weight loss craze. I personally track my weight very closely and regularly adjust my lifestyle to match my target weight goals, based on scientific research where possible.
The simple equation that I use to lose weight is Calories IN less than Calories BURNED.
This means that you’re taking in less energy then you’re using up every day. Over time the body adjusts to this and uses fat stores to make up for the calorific gap ultimately allowing you to lose weight. Whilst this is massively oversimplified, it does point to the critical message that lowering calorie intake is one of the most effective ways to lose weight.
To work out how many calories you need is an inexact science, however you can get a ballpark by using a simple calorie calculator.
Personally, I know that I need 2,100 calories a day to lose weight consistently. Many readers of this blog will need even less than that. For example, the average female requires 1,500 calories to lose 1lb each week and the average male requires 2,000 calories to lose the same amount.
So, when we question if Dinnerly is a good tool for losing weight, it’s really asking whether eating Dinnerly dinners can allow you to eat the right amount of calories for a caloric deficit.
To answer this properly, we need to have a look at what meals Dinnerly offer.
What does Dinnerly offer?
As I previously mentioned, Dinnerly is a service that provides pre-portioned ingredients for between 2 to 6 meals each week. All you have to do is cook them.
Each set of ingredients can feed either 2, or 4 people depending on which box size you choose.
Each week, Dinnerly offer 55+ recipes so there’s no doubt you’ll find at least a few recipes you’ll love. Whilst all of these are using fresh, natural ingredients, that certainly doesn’t make all of them “healthy’.
That’s why some Dinnerly meals are tagged for more calorie-conscious customers. You’ll find:
- Balanced – High nutritive value with minimally processed ingredients.
- Reduced-Carb – Contain less than 30 grams of carbohydrates.
- Low-Calories – Contain 450 – 599 calories per serving.
Not all of the ‘balanced’ or ‘reduced-carb’ meals are under 600 calories, but many of them are.
That means there are normally between 10 – 15 recipes each week under 600 calories on the Dinnerly menu.
Dinnerly Calories Per Meal
Researchers at the University of Sydney analysed Dinnerly meals by counting every calorie from the ingredients they received.
On average, each Dinnerly meal contains 704 calories.
That means Dinnerly meals can easily be around half of your daily recommended calorie intake. Whilst this isn’t a massive problem, it does mean you may need to compromise on breakfast and lunches.
Alternatively, you can order exclusively from Dinnerly meals that are under 600 calories. Dinnerly provide a detailed nutrition panel for each meal on their mobile app, but only provide a simplified version on their website.
Dinnerly Nutrition Facts
Calories aren’t the only consideration when understanding if Dinnerly is healthy or not. We also need to review the balance of other factors like sodium, saturated fat, and carbs.
Here are the average nutritional values for Dinnerly meals:
|Total fat (g)
|Saturated Fat (g)
Clare Keating, our Registered Nutritionist, concluded that it’s disappointing to see such high values for Sodium and Saturated Fat, although Dinnerly is not the worst meal kit in this regard.
To make Dinnerly a bit healthier, Clare recommends using less alt when cooking, and opting for salt-reduced pantry items (e.g salt-reduced soy sauce).
On the plus side, Dinnerly ticks the box on Fibre, with a strong 10.7g per serve. This is likely due to the average of 2.6 servings of vegetables per meal, which is really positive compared to the average Australian diet.
Can I Lose Weight on Dinnerly?
The simple answer is that YES, you can lose weight on Dinnerly. However, you would need to be conscious of the nutritional values of the meals you select every week.
With the average Dinnerly meal providing over 700 calories, it would be difficult for the average female (who needs around 1500 calories/day) to lose weight. We’re all different, so consider whether a 700 calorie dinner is too much for you to operate in a calorie deficit.
As Dinnerly don’t provide breakfast or lunch as part of their service, it’s definitely possible to balance your day with smaller meals if you’re concerned about the high calorie count of some Dinnerly meals.
To make the most of Dinnerly as a healthy weight loss service, I do have a few tips for you.
Top Tips For Weight Loss on Dinnerly
People often use a service like Dinnerly after using a stricter diet service like Equalution or Be Fit Food, to provide an ongoing balanced diet.
There are a few meal kit tricks I’ve learnt over the years to help stay in that long-term calorie deficit or maintenance.
- Choose Your Meals Carefully – This one’s obvious. The average Dinnerly meal contains 704 calories but each week’s menu has plenty of options under 600 calories. Selecting lower calorie meals makes it easier to stick to your dietary goals.
- Split Up Portions – Let’s say you get a 700 calorie Dinnerly meal for 2 people, equivalent to 1400 calories across 2 portions. Because you have full control of the cooking/serving, you can split the meal into 3 portions and suddenly you have 460 calorie portions. An added bonus is that you now have lunch for tomorrow.
- Bulk Up With Veggies – Not everyone wants to split the same amount of food across more meals because it’s simply less filling. Instead, you can always add some more vegetables for a way to bulk up meals and create more portions without compromising on portion size.
- Don’t Follow Suggested Amounts – Many Dinnerly dishes have a carbohydrate component such as rice or pasta. Just because your recipe asks for 250g of pasta, doesn’t mean you have to use it all. It’s easy to reduce the carbohydrate count of the meal by using half the carbohydrates and saving them for another day.
Weight Loss Alternatives to Dinnerly
When used for weight loss, Dinnerly is definitely a self-service experience. Nobody from Dinnerly is going to check you’re choosing the right meals and that you’re following the rright meal plan to lose weight.
If you’re looking for a more structured, supported weight loss service, there are some really good options in Australia.
Equalution provide weekly meal plans personalized to you based on a recommended number of calories to keep you in a calorie deficit. Whilst they don’t provide any food, the support community and structure they provide makes it much easier to stick to your dietary goals. Their premium service even includes full access to a nutritionist for support.
Check out our full Equalution review.
Be Fit Food are a ready-to-eat meal provider who serve up breakfast, lunch, and dinner on really low-calorie plans. These include plans as low as 800 calories per day. It’s a great service for anyone who struggles with the discipline on portion sizes or sticking to the diet across all meals of the day. However, it can be quite expensive for such a small amount of food.
Check out our full Be Fit Food review.
Not looking for such extreme diet plans? The other ready-to-eat weight loss service I recommend is Lite n Easy. Simple meals cooked to help you meet your diet goals, along with a very large community of other people following the Lite n Easy program.
Lastly, GoodnessMe is an incredible service that helps you find healthy, nutritionally balanced snacks to replace the unhealthy snacks every shop tempts us with. Each month, you’ll receive ideas for healthy snacks that stop the cravings without piling on the calories.
Check out our full GoodnessMe review.
Dinnerly Discount Offer
Maybe you don’t need an alternative weight loss service, and you like the sound of cooking fresh meals that stay within your calorie targets.
We’ve partnered with Dinnerly to offer an exclusive discount to Food Box Mate readers, which is honestly insane value for the amount of food you’re getting.
There’s no harm in trying it for a few weeks to see if it’s right for you.