BistroMD Review

Meal delivery for calorie-conscious consumers

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4.1

BistroMD

salmon and vegetables on a plate

Verywell Fit / Abbey Littlejohn

BistroMD is a good option for calorie-conscious consumers who don’t mind frozen meals and are looking to prioritize convenience by minimizing time spent in the kitchen.

Pros
  • Option to receive all three meals plus snacks

  • Meals are ready in as little as five minutes

  • Multiple support options

Cons
  • Cannot choose delivery date

  • Meals are not customizable

4.1

BistroMD

salmon and vegetables on a plate

Verywell Fit / Abbey Littlejohn

BistroMD was founded by Dr. Caroline Cederquist, a bariatric specialist, and her husband Ed in 2005. With a focus on weight loss and convenience, bistroMD offers over 150 chef-prepared, frozen meals each week. Options include breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus a snack program at an additional cost. According to the company’s website, the couple’s goal was to make eating healthy simple, less time-consuming, and more convenient for patients on their weight loss journey.

BistroMD meals are offered in five- and seven-day plan options and include breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but they can be customized to include just lunch and dinner. Customers can either choose the standard, Signature program, or select from bistroMD’s specialized programs such as gluten-free, heart-healthy, menopause, or diabetic.

Pricing: Spelled Out

With only five options for meal plans, pricing is pre-set and straightforward. The full program comes with a full week’s worth of meals including seven breakfasts, seven lunches, and six dinners. This option comes at a cost of $219.80. The next selection is the full program with five day’s worth of meals, including five breakfasts, five lunches, and five dinners for a total cost of $187.35. There are also two plans that include only lunch and dinner for either five or seven days. Shipping is free for the first order and $19.95 thereafter.

Cooking options include microwave or conventional oven. All meals are single-size portions.

  • Full Program, 7 Days: $219.80 plus $19.95 shipping 
  • Full Program, 5 Days: $187.35 plus $19.95 shipping
  • Lunch and Dinner, 7 Days: $188.86 plus $19.95 shipping
  • Lunch and Dinner, 5 Days: $149.90 plus $19.95 shipping

How It Works: Simple and Straightforward

BistroMD makes signing up easy. First, you’ll select your program. Choose from the signature program which offers at least 150 options, or from the gluten-free, menopause, diabetic, or heart-healthy programs, which offer at least 100 options per category. Then you’ll select your plan. Note that there is no difference in meals for lunch and dinner. The customer chooses when to consume them.

Next, you are taken to a page where you create your account, choose add-ons, and check out. You do not have the option to view or customize meals until after the purchase is complete. After checkout, meals are generated and you have the option to switch each meal out to one that sounds the most appealing to you. If there are choices that don’t speak to your taste preferences, you can choose to remove them from showing up again.

Meals arrive fully cooked and frozen. It is recommended that meals be moved to the refrigerator to thaw one or two days before eating; however, there are instructions for cooking from frozen. Cooking options include microwave or conventional oven. All meals are single-size portions.

BistroMD’s focus is science-backed nutrition to support weight loss. The company employs a number of registered dietitians, chefs, and other healthcare professionals to support members.

Choosing Meals: Loads of Options

BistroMD generates a customized menu based on your plan and program each week. You have the option to swap meals out for other nutritionally comparable meals or for options that might slightly take you out of the recommended macronutrient range. For some additional flexibility in meal choices, the option to include breakfast selections in lunch and dinner choices is also available. Specific customizations to recipes or meal components are not available.

The signature program is composed of 84 lunch and dinner options, 43 breakfast options, and 41 snack options, which is well over 150.

Changes to meals and requests to skip a week must be received by Wednesday at 5 p.m. the week prior to delivery. The company does not guarantee a delivery date but does provide an estimated range. There technically isn’t any add ons and while snacks are available, you must choose them as part of your plan. Otherwise, you’ll need to email customer service to modify your plan to include snacks.

nine prepared meals in cardboard packaging

Verywell Fit / Abbey Littlejohn

What We Made 

We chose the five-day lunch and dinner plan, which included five lunches and five dinners for a total of 10 meals. We focused on these five for the purposes of this review:

  • Chicken pad thai
  • Southwest bison meatloaf with smoky tomato glaze
  • Grilled salmon with creamy pesto
  • Meatloaf with honey bourbon glaze
  • Chicken, rice, and cheddar casserole

Packaging: Well-Insulated

Meals arrived in one large recyclable box, each in a small meal tray, sealed with plastic film on top and enclosed in a cardboard sleeve. Each meal was still frozen on arrival thanks to three large pieces of dry ice and two thermal coolers that lined the box. Also included were one main cardboard divider, two smaller intersecting dividers, and one large piece of bubble wrap. According to the site's FAQ section, all pieces of packaging are recyclable.

a cardboard delivery box with ice packs and prepared meals

Verywell Fit / Abbey Littlejohn

Customer Support: Options Galore

Research shows that social support can improve health outcomes, and bistroMD offers support from the moment you open the box. Enclosed with the delivery is a “let’s get started guide” that covers everything from heating up meals to getting in touch with a dietitian. An additional flyer advertising dietitian support services were also included in our delivery. Nutrition information and directions are printed on the cardboard sleeves encasing each meal. As part of the subscription service, members have access to exclusive member resources and support. These include booking a session with a dietitian, a private Facebook community, text support, access to a health library, and a welcome webinar.

Customer service can be reached via phone and email. Phone support was prompt and friendly and the agent answered our questions regarding meal selection and delivery dates. Customer service via email was on the slower side, as we received a reply in a little more than 24 hours, but the agent was able to resolve our issue.

Nutrition: Macros-Based

With a very specific focus on weight loss, bistroMD’s specific macronutrient breakdown is at the core of its programs. Meal plans are designed to provide 20-25 percent of healthy fat to boost metabolism, 30-35 percent from complex carbohydrates to provide energy and regulate blood sugar, and 40-50 percent from lean protein to maintain lean muscle. As far as specialized programs go, these too follow the same macronutrient guidelines plus specific nutrient or ingredient requirements. The heart-healthy program offers meals that contain less than 600mg of sodium and 3.5 grams of saturated fat per serving. The gluten-free program offers meals that are tested to the FDA gluten-free standard and are wheat, rye, and barely free. The diabetic-friendly and menopause programs offer meals that contain less than 25 grams of net carbs. The caloric range of the meals we tested was 290 to 350 calories.

Food labels are complete and full allergens are provided. The only diet culture-based language we noticed was “fat burning.” While outwardly stigmatizing diet culture language is not used throughout the site, bistroMD is a weight loss program that encourages the consumption of low-calorie meals. They acknowledge that not consuming enough calories can send the body into starvation mode, yet meal offerings that we saw went as low as 290 calories.

The Cooking Process: Nice and Easy

Because meals are heat and eat, the cooking process was simple and the company offers clear instructions on the meal container sleeves. The recommended method is microwaving, but instructions for the conventional oven are also included. For best results, it is recommended that meals be thawed in the refrigerator the day before. We cooked two meals in the microwave after thawing, one meal from frozen in the microwave, and two meals in the oven. There were no obvious differences between the microwave from frozen and microwave from thawed, but there was a noticeable difference when meals were heated in the oven. We found that the food was less mushy and had a better texture, making it more palatable than the microwaved meals.

salmon and vegetables in a black meal tray

Verywell Fit / Abbey Littlejohn

Flavor, Freshness, and Quality: Fresh, but Lacking in Flavor

All of the meals we tried were fresh and undamaged. There were a couple of cosmetic issues but they did not detract from the meal. We found most meals to be bland and in need of additional seasoning to improve the taste, however. To be fair, the company is aware of this because there is a printed tip on meal sleeves that recommends seasoning food to your taste. 

However, even after seasoning, there was still a lot left to be desired. We found the texture of most meals to be slightly mushy. The chicken pad thai was soupy and flavorless but the accompanying sugar snap peas were surprisingly tasty. The meatloaf with honey bourbon glaze was one of the only memorable items, but the accompanying side of cheesy quinoa had an overly smoky flavor. Upon further investigation, we found that they used an abundance of smoked gouda. Overall, the quality and freshness of the food was pretty good.

The company does not disclose specifics about its sourcing. According to the FAQ section of the website, they have made a commitment to use responsibly sourced seafood, rBGH-free beef, hormone-free chicken and partner with small, local farms. 

BistroMD Is Good For

BistroMD is good for people looking for an easy and convenient way to drop weight while being mindful of certain health markers without feeling like they are on a diet. Quick and easy meals that are nutritionally well-rounded sound appealing. The combination of small portions with very little flavor results in unsatisfying meals. Yes, they are full of fiber which promotes a feeling of physical fullness, but they lack taste satisfaction, which is an important factor in creating a sustainable eating plan. BistroMD is not good for people who enjoy cooking, are not interested in dieting, and tend to have heartier appetites.

While outwardly stigmatizing diet culture language is not used throughout the site, bistroMD is a weight loss program that encourages the consumption of low-calorie meals.

The Competition: BistroMD vs. Diet-To-Go

BistroMD and Diet-To-Go both claim to support their customers’ weight loss goals by offering fully-cooked, nutrient-dense meals. Diet-To-Go delivers meals that are ready to eat in as little as 2-3 minutes, while bistroMD delivers frozen meals that can be reheated in 3-5 minutes. Pricing and shipping are comparable and both companies ship within the contiguous United States. Unlike bistroMD, Diet-To-Go offers a vegetarian plan. BistroMD’s website is more user-friendly and straightforward than Diet-To-Go’s.

Final Verdict

With so many options now available to make nutrient-dense meals accessible, bistroMD has their competition cut out for them and they have lots of room to improve the flavor, texture, and overall palatability of their meals. That said, if your appetite tends to be on the smaller side and you don’t mind adding your own seasonings, then bistroMD might be a good fit. 

Methodology

We ordered, cooked, and evaluated meals from 40 different meal delivery services to rate each one’s offerings, nutrition profiles, prices, sustainability, and, of course, flavors. We contacted the customer service teams at each of the companies, collected data, and rigorously reviewed each one.


Our Verywell Fit writers are all registered dieticians who relied on their research and its resulting data to inform their reviews.

Specs

  • Product Name BistroMD
  • Lowest Price per Serving 7.50
  • Number of Diets Served 6
  • Number of Recipes 150
  • Delivery Area 48 states
  • Serving Sizes Available 1

By Ayana Habtemariam, MSW, RDN, LDN
Ayana Habtemariam, MSW, RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian, nutrition therapist, certified intuitive eating counselor, and macro social worker. She is the owner of Truly Real Nutrition and is particularly committed to increasing awareness of weight-inclusive philosophies in Black communities.