This quote from Tomi Jurlina, “I’m a terrible chef“, is probably not the quote you expect to read from the co-founder of a prepared meals service. Fortunately, he founded Workout Meals in 2012 alongside his friend Dean Deakin (who can cook) and has since hired an executive chef to manage their kitchen.
Workout Meals tackles one of the main struggles for any gym-goer – diet. Achieving results in the gym requires a consistent and balanced diet, which can be very difficult if you don’t enjoy cooking or you don’t have the time to cook fresh meals every day. That’s the cornerstone of the Workout Meals experience and this focus has seen them deliver over 100,000 meals across New South Wales, Adelaide, Brisbane and the ACT.
Workout Meals Prepared Meals Review
Workout Meals deliver on the promise of real, fresh food that’s convenient to eat. They have some delicious dishes available, although I’ve found there are some snags with the overall experience.
Ordering - Website - 6/10
Food - Quality - 7/10
Ordering - Meal Choice - 8/10
Food - Taste - 8/10
Ordering - Delivery - 8/10
Value For Money - 8/10
- Good range of healthy meals.
- Fitness programme with every subscription.
- Some incredibly tasty meals.
- Issues with some ingredients lists.
- Confusing website when managing your order.
- Inconsistency with cooking of meals.
- Some meals can be very dry (especially chicken / turkey).
The standout unique selling point for Workout Meals is that they own their own farm in Kulnura just an hour north of Sydney. They source many of their vegetables and eggs from this farm, promising some of the freshest prepared meals you can buy.
Workout Meals is a “fresh” prepared meals service, so all meals arrive refrigerated (not frozen). This means their closest competitors are My Muscle Chef and MACROS. I pulled together some of the most common FAQ’s in my guide to prepared meals services.
This Workout Meals review covers the entire Workout Meals experience including purchasing, delivery, food and subscriptions so let’s get started!
- 1 Getting started with Workout Meals
- 2 Meal variety and options
- 3 Delivery options
- 4 How much does Workout Meals cost?
- 5 My Workout Meals box
- 6 How’s the food?
- 7 Workout Meals 360
- 8 My Final Thoughts on Workout Meals
Getting started with Workout Meals
Co-founder Tomi has a background in IT, with that influence clear in a slick and well-designed website. This was developed as part of a redesign in 2020 that seriously modernised the look and feel of their entire brand. Without going into too much detail, I absolutely love the new branding!
Workout Meals structure their meals with both goal-based on fixed meal packs, making it easy to identify which meals you should be choosing from. These are:
- Weight Loss
- Lean & Fit
- Muscle Gain
- Meals for Anyone
- Low Carb
- Gluten Free
Selecting a ‘meal pack’ asks you to either join their WM360 programme or to select a standard meal pack. We’ll come back to the WM360 programme a little later, instead focussing on their standard meal pack offering. Their website then asks you for your gender and activity levels before recommending a set of 3 plan sizes depending on the number of days you want meals for.
Despite being 12 years old, their FAQ only has 11 articles. Either they don’t get many questions, or this simply hasn’t been updated for a long time. I’d like to see some more questions answered here, including what the minimum order size is. I had to dig for it, the minimum order size is $60.
You won’t find any Workout Meals dinners available in supermarkets, they’re only available online.
Meal variety and options
The regular menu consists of 38 – 40 different main meals with a wide range of different protein sources. Most prepared meals services tend to rely heavily on Chicken dishes, with Workout Meals not being an exception. 50% of their meals are based on a Chicken protein source, with the rest varying between Fish, Beef, Turkey and Pork.
All meals are available in a ‘Regular’ size, with a majority of meals available in a ‘Large’ size as well. Most active people will need to go for the ‘Large’ meals, which are generally around 400g in size.
Examples of some of the meals available are:
- Thai Green Curry with Cauliflower Rice
- Peppercorn Steak & Chips
- Beef Stew & Brown Rice
- Naked Turkey Burgers
On top of the regular dinners, Workout Meals have developed an interesting range of Breakfasts, Nuts and Juices. For breakfast, you can get Cheese & Mushroom Scrambled Egg Whites, Pumpkin Waffles (which I tried) and Granola & Yogurt. Breakfast is often not provided for, so it’s good to see that Workout Meals are thinking about all the meals they can provide for. It would be great to see them expand their offering past 3 meals though.
Special diets and food intolerance
Amusingly, there is a ‘Vegan’ filter on their menu that reveals a single Vegan meal plus some Vegan carrot cake. I’m not sure that’s really enough for anyone on a plant-based diet, so Workout Meals currently isn’t suitable for Vegetarians or Vegans.
This is the statement Workout Meals provide around allergens:
All our meals are prepared in bulk within our commercial kitchen. Therefore, we cannot guarantee meals are Gluten/Nuts/Dairy/Crustacean Free.FAQ
This means that I wouldn’t recommend Workout Meals for anyone with a severe allergy. This is further compounded by the attention to detail around their ingredient lists which we’ll come back to a little bit later.
There is a Keto Meal Pack option. However, this is only offered as a 10 meal set, with 3 of those meals duplicated. I’d struggle to recommend this due to the lack of variance provided.
If you are Gluten Free, there are normally around 20 different options available on the menu including a gluten-free pasta dish. This is a reasonable selection and makes Workout Meals suitable for those on a gluten-free diet, albeit with the risk of contaminants I would advise caution if your allergy is serious.
Similarly, their menu offers filters with a reasonable set of meals for dishes that have No Peanuts, No Treenuts, No Eggs, No Dairy, No Sesame and No Soy.
Workout Meals deliver to over 3,000 locations on the East Coast of Australia. You’re able to use their delivery checker to see whether they can delivery to your postcode, along with the days delivery is available. In central Sydney, I’m able to get deliveries every single day of the week, whereas more rural areas may only see 2-3 delivery days each week.
Deliveries are either made between 12am – 6am (overnight) or between 8am – 6pm depending on which option you choose.
Standard delivery costs a flat fee of $15 to all areas, which is expensive. However, this is simply used as an incentive to sign up for the regular subscription service. If you’re a subscriber (either weekly or fortnightly) then delivery is FREE to all areas.
This makes it an absolute no-brainer to sign up for their regular subscription. Just set yourself a reminder to pause your delivery before the cut-off deadline if you don’t want to receive it that week.
On receipt of your box, you’ll receive a photo with proof of delivery. This can definitely be handy for finding out where the delivery driver has left your meals! Like most services, the meals will last 6-8 hours without needing to be refrigerated so it’s possible to get the box delivered and pick it up later in the day.
How much does Workout Meals cost?
I’ve found that meals are priced slightly higher than average for a prepared meals service, with ‘Regular’ meals around $10.55 and ‘Large’ meals around $12.95. As mentioned previously, most gym-goers will want to opt for the larger meals that are between 500 – 700 calories.
With the minimum order of $60, this means you can order boxes with as little as 5 meals. This is quite a low limit compared to other services and would be useful if you just want to stock up a few meals.
Meals are priced individually, so some meals are cheaper or more expensive than the prices mentioned above. Juices are $3.95 and Snacks are $2.45 which are very reasonable prices.
There is no discounting system for larger orders, so there is no added benefit of adding more meals to your order.
My Workout Meals box
My boxes have all arrived between 10:30 and 11:30 am, placed next to my front door, with an SMS confirmation being sent soon after.
The boxes themselves are neatly branded and have the same contents as most other services to keep the meals cool – ice packs and insulated foil.
Recycling the contents
There’s no information about whether the contents of a Workout Meals box are recyclable or not, which is disappointing.
Generally, you’ll find that:
- Cardboard Box – Recycle in normal recycling collection.
- Thermal Liner – Recycle in a soft plastics recycling bin found at most supermarkets.
- Freezer Gel Packs – You need to empty out the contents (recommended to mix with salt before pouring down sink) and recycle the plastic in soft plastics.
- Black Meal Trays – Recycle in normal recycling collection.
- Vacuum Seal Film – Recycle in a soft plastics.
- Cardboard Sleeve – Recycle in normal recycling collection.
However, I can’t confirm any of this is strictly accurate for the Workout Meals contents.
Check out my blog on the environmental impact of food boxes for more information.
How’s the food?
Workout Meals pride themselves on offering real, fresh ingredients from their organic farm, created by restaurant chefs.
After trying 20+ different meals, I can confirm that they really succeed in making their meals feel like real home-cooked food. Whilst other services can taste quite manufactured/bland, the Workout Meals are mostly tasty dishes that feel as if you’ve made them yourself.
I’d go as far as saying that some meals are the nicest prepared meals I’ve tasted.
However, I found they were also a bit hit and miss. There were a few meals that really missed the mark, making me question why they were on the menu in the first place. For example, the Naked Turkey Burger is a really great idea but it just results in really dry burger patties without enough sauce. I don’t know why these companies try and make fried chicken dishes… ever. The Chicken Karaage was simply odd, with a strangely mushy coating. Then there’s the Feta & Almond chicken which just tasted of vinegar and nothing else.
Ultimately, I think there needs to be a bit more work to refine some of these dishes to meet the general standard of the other dishes.
One dish that stands out is the Peppercorn Steak & Chips. Notoriously hard to get right when reheated, this dish ends up looking watery and unappealing but is actually unbelievably delicious. For something that’s just had 2 minutes in the microwave, it’s an absolute treat.
Cooking the prepared meals
Each meal comes in a shallow black plastic container, vacuum sealed with a thin plastic layer. One massive advantage is that you don’t need to poke/peel the plastic before heating, you can just throw the meal itself into the microwave. This is the same technology that My Muscle Chef use and that works really well.
Reheating times are a consistent 2 minutes for every dish, which is incredibly convenient if you need to grab dinner quickly.
Innacurate Ingredients Lists
I was starting to really enjoy my Workout Meals experience, but there were two things that have really put me off. The first is that they have problems getting the ingredient listings right on their packaging. You can see below their ingredients list for Southern Fried Chicken which is incredibly missing the Chicken! This is a really disappointing oversight and is something they must resolve ASAP.
I also received the Karaage Chicken which had a sticky label with the nutritional information. For ages, I couldn’t see the ingredient list. Turns out that you need a microscope to read it. The ingredients are those tiny lines of text next to the “Use By” date that are simply unreadable.
One of my favourite dishes has been the Sticky Asian Meatballs & Steamed Rice. It has this delicious sticky sauce covering meatballs that are moist and flavourful.
Unfortunately, with my second delivery, I faced meatballs that were cooked like this…
Now, I’m someone who likes their steak raw and appreciates that beef doesn’t always need to be cooked through. This, however, was highly offputting. It suggests there is a lack of standardisation with the way they cook their meals.
Fortunately, all the chicken I ate was thoroughly cooked through. I’m struggling to find the confidence that this would always be the case though.
Meals I loved
- Mongolian Beef with Brown Rice
- Peppercorn Steak & Chips
- Turkey Mince Poke Bowl
- Beef Bolognese & Pasta
- Thai Green Curry with Cauliflower Rice
- Beef Mex Loaded & Sweet Potato
Meals I wouldn’t recommend
- Southern Fried Chicken
- Moroccan Chicken
- Feta & Almond Chicken with Sweet Potato Fries
Workout Meals 360
With every subscription to Workout Meals, you also receive a subscription to their WM360 service, This offers a personalised training regime and food plan, produced by their in-house personal trainers. This is a super unique offering that really sets Workout Meals from the competition.
I signed myself up and had a chat with Robbie who spoke to me about all my personal fitness goals. It was a quick 10-minute phone call but it really felt like he understood what I was trying to achieve. He was super friendly and it was definitely an exciting chat to have.
Unfortunately, that was the best part of the experience.
I was sent a link to my personalised meal plan:
Whilst I wanted to join their subscription service, he had added the delivery fee as if it was a single order. I had to go back and replicate the order myself from the menu directly to escape that additional “Delivery Fee”.
I had also informed Robbie that the one food I didn’t like was nuts. Not allergic, but didn’t want them in my order. It isn’t pictured above, but I was recommended the Feta & Almond Chicken which naturally contains Almonds. They have plenty of dishes with similar nutritional profiles that don’t contain nuts so I’m not sure where the logic came from.
I was then invited to the Workout Meals app, which is a full-featured fitness tracking app. Robbie had loaded in 3 workouts a week for me to complete, including videos for each exercise. It’s actually a very impressive fitness app and I would love to have tested it further but sadly Sydney’s gyms closed under lockdown so my fitness goals took a back seat.
My Final Thoughts on Workout Meals
They are so close to creating a fantastic prepared meals service. I ate some delicious meals, alongside the promise of the WM360 programme to help me hit my fitness goals. They’re priced reasonably for a long-term subscription and I appreciate that many ingredients come directly from a NSW farm.
So it’s a real shame that there are so many little snags/issues with the overall service. This is consolidated by the fact there are little bugs with the account management system which makes it quite difficult to manage your meals each week. I even found some meals weren’t available if I was logged in, but re-appeared if I signed out.
If Workout Meals were new to this, I could forgive them for having teething issues. Since they’ve been around for over 9 years, I have to say that the overall experience should be more polished.
If you’re fitness-focussed and based on Australia’s East Coast, it’s worth trying some of their better meals and storing some in the back of your freezer for when you need a quick meal. I’ve overlooked many of the pitfalls and have kept my subscription running, so it can’t be all that bad.