Take the time to cook something healthy, or throw something in the microwave? It’s the modern parent’s dilemma, and wow does it cause a lot of parental guilt.
This is the exact problem Nurture Life is looking to solve, and the company promises the best of both worlds, and, indirectly, a huge reduction in guilt.
In this Nurture Life review, we’ll tackle:
- How does Nurture Life’s subscription kids’ meal delivery service work?
- Are Nurture Life meals healthy?
- What’s great about the meals and service?
- What we wish was different
- Is Nurture Life worth it?
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How does Nurture Life work? (Plus a few things that are good to know)
If you’re an adult, and you eat food, you probably know there are 800+ options for meal delivery services. And you can find options for everything from ‘we send you pre-portioned ingredients, you cook, 30 minutes’ (then it takes you 2 hours) to ‘we send it, you put in the microwave’.
Nurture Life is like the latter, but for kids. Pre-portioned, ready to zap-and-eat meals designed to be healthy and convenient. Sent to you each week in a refrigerated box. As a subscription. Because, subscriptions are convenient, plus everything has to be a subscription these days.
There are 3 types of food you can get delivered:
- Nurture Life Kids’ meals. For toddlers and up. A balanced meal with a main course and side dish. Sample meals include everything from beef and broccoli to chicken meatballs to chicken dumplings to French Toast sticks with scrambled eggs (yeah, breakfast too).
- Nurture Life Finger Foods. Smaller portioned, smaller bites, designed for babies who are ready for finger foods (10 months and up, usually) and toddlers who are still into grabbing stuff and shoving it in their mouth. Examples include Ham & Egg Bites (uncured ham cubes, sous-vide egg cubes, sweet potato cubes) and Turkey Meatloaf (antibiotic-free turkey meatball cubes, organic peas, potato cubes).
- Nurture Life Snacks. Think like trendy paleo/keto snack balls, but for kids. They have names that suggest cookies, but are sweetened with better-for-you things like dried fruit. Nurture Life claims 78% less added sugar than leading kids snack brands. They’re also high in protein, which is nice to see.
Good to know
Nurture Life meals come fresh, not frozen. You’re probably used to buying microwavable kids meals frozen at the store. I know I was. So, it’s important to note that when Nurture Life meals come, they’re in refrigerated packaging, but they’re not frozen. This means:
- You put ’em in the fridge, not freezer. Plan space accordingly.
- They don’t last as long. Frozen meals can sit in the freezer indefinitely. Not so with Nurture Life meals. You’ve got about a week to feed them to your kids, eat them yourself, or freeze them.
- They don’t take nearly as long to heat up. If you’re used to frozen meals that take 3 or 4 minutes in the microwave, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with Nurture Life’s 1 minute microwave cook time. As all parents know, every minute counts.
You can choose the menu for your kids. If you’ve got picky eaters in your house like me, you’ll appreciate the fact that Nurture Life allows you to customize the meals, finger foods, and snacks you put in each box. If you just want to go for it, they’ll build a box for you, but you can choose every single meal each week and snack from a fairly extensive set of options.
Nurture Life is a subscription. Designed to be a convenient, set it and forget it type subscription service, unless you cancel or skip weeks, you’ll get a Nurture Life box each week.
There’s good flexibility within the subscription. You’re able to skip weeks and change the size of your box with Nurture Life. So, if you’ll be out of town or if you just need a break or want to save money by ordering every other week, that’s an option (albeit one that takes a bit of manual work, see the ‘wish it was different’ section below).
Are Nurture Life meals actually healthy?
As a parent, feeding your kids healthy food feels incredibly important. And it is. It can also lead to guilt. In fact, a tagline on Nurture Life’s website says, “No more mom guilt”. Aside from the fact that as a dad who has a fair amount of dad guilt around various things and wants to say, ‘hey, dads experience guilt, too!’, it’s a good tagline — the promise of healthy food prepped in a minute is a really good one. But, are Nurture Life meals healthy? Let’s take a look.
Nurture Life’s website makes a few promises that are really comforting:
- Vegetables in every meal
- Meals that are a good source of protein
- Real, organic ingredients
- And fresh, never frozen
They’re also free from bad stuff like nitrates, artificial colors and flavors, high-fructose corn syrup, and trans-fats. The absence of which, while it’s becoming more common to see on labels, is really great as a lot of stuff for kids unfortunately still includes this crap.
Overall I think Nurture Life has done a great job in this area. Are there things I wish they’d do slightly differently? Sure—for example, I’d rather see white rice than brown due to higher arsenic levels in the latter, and I think it’s debatable how much nutritional value is in edamame, which are really just soy beans, but, I recognize my views on these two things are in the extreme minority, and I’m perfectly comfortable feeding them both to my kids (most people think you’d need to eat a whole lot of brown rice daily to reach dangerous arsenic levels).
Ok, now that we understand the basics of Nurture Life, let’s jump into the review. We’ll cover what we thought was awesome, what we wish was different, and overall, is Nurture Life worth it?
Convenience. There is no arguing with the fact Nurture Life is super convenient. It’s hard to beat fresh meals that arrive on your doorstep each week, go in your fridge, microwave in 1 minute, and can be eaten directly out of their container (don’t worry, you can plate the meals if you don’t want to feel like you’re feeding your kids TV dinners from the 80s). The one minute thing is pretty magical. As I said earlier, in kid time that’s a lot shorter than 3-4 minutes for frozen meals, plus they seem to come out at a pretty perfect temperature vs frozen stuff that then needs extra time to cool down. (One caveat to this in wish it was different, below)
Complete meals. I loved knowing my kids were getting a serving of vegetables in every meal, a solid amount of protein, and variety. Sure, you can find things like Kid Fresh microwavable Mac’ in cheese in the frozen foods section that has ‘hidden vegetables’ injected into it, but then you need to add some sides to make it a more complete meal. And it’s hard to find healthy frozen kids meals at the store, buying variety on top of that is pretty much impossible.
Good food. It’s a little bit challenging to judge food quality in kids’ meals. Asking your kids to rate stuff is … well, here’s our attempt at a 1-5 scale for Nurture Life:
Here’s what I will say; Kenzie, our 8 year old who eats lots of stuff and will try almost anything, liked the majority of things from Nurture Life. There were some misses. Ruby, our picky eater, didn’t get any less picky, and ate maybe 25% of the things we tried with her. And plenty of the expected … at one point she shouted, “green thingies!!!” upon identifying some unidentified, microscopic green specs in something, which obviously wasn’t consumed after that. There were some favorites like penne bolognese that got eaten consistently. That didn’t mean the accompanying vegetables did (though, a couple winners there, too, like broccoli trees, as we call them).
And both of them perhaps noticed the ‘make everything include healthy stuff’ — I asked them to compare Nurture Life’s Mac & Cheese (with hidden butternut squash) to our go-to Annie’s Mac & Cheese. “This is good, but Annie’s takes me back to heaven.” Dang, kids say some strange stuff.
For research purposes, because we didn’t want to make ourselves dinner either, and because there were a few times we needed to get some eaten before they expired, either my wife and I ate some too. She’s not a foodie and said, ‘these are good, I’d happily eat these for dinner’. I fancy myself a low-grade foodie, like spicy stuff, and, unsurprisingly found most of them pretty bland, but was pleasantly surprised a few times by some of the more experimental choices like Chicken Katsu Bites—Japanese inspired chicken bites with rice and vegetables. And hey, throwing on some sriracha does the trick for most things.
Variety and exploration. Speaking of experimental, Nurture Life has lots of dishes inspired by international food, which I think is pretty cool. Beyond the Katsu Bites, you’ll find things like—Butter Chicken, Chicken Biryani, Teriyaki Salmon, and more. I can’t fully credit Nuture Life with this, but during our testing we happened to go to an Indian restaurant with friends and my older daughter discovered she liked Indian food. Huge win for me.
Choice for you, and for your kids. Nurture Life has a great tool that allows you to customize your box. I let my 8 year old build the box for her and her sister. She had a blast doing this, felt a lot of ownership and responsibility, and ate and tried more of the food as a result (sometimes with the prompt, “remember, you picked this out, I’d like you to try it!“. This was really cool.
The wish it was different
First up, price. At its cheapest, Nurture Life is $6.99 per meal, which doesn’t exactly make it the cheapest thing you could put on your kid’s plate. Now, you’re certainly paying for quality and convenience and if you’re a busy family, that very well may be worth it. But, there are cheaper ways to get healthy food to your kids if that’s the only go. As my business partner John pointed out, “seems like you could buy some of the entrees frozen in bulk, make your own vegetables and get basically the same thing for less.
Not all the food tastes great microwaved. As I noted above, overall Nurture Life food tastes pretty good. But, there are some things that just don’t quite get to delicious—the edamame is a good example. My kids love edamame, but via Nurture Life it’s a little soggy and doesn’t get wolfed down as it usually does.
The whole shipping/packaging issue. Not included in the 1-minute prep time is getting the box from your doorstep –> unloaded into your fridge –> packaging recycled. As with all perishable food delivery services, Nurture Life comes in a pretty big box that’s insulated and shipped with big ice bags. The good news is, it’s all recyclable. The bad news is, that takes some work. Disposing of the box is easy enough — it can go straight into the recycle bin. Though, that does take up some room. We ended up using ours as an extra recycling box inside, filling it with stuff, and then taking it out to squeeze in our oversized bin. And then there’s the ice bags. Again, good news/bad news—the bags themselves are store drop-off recyclable (like, at Target or wherever you hopefully drop your plastic bags). But first you need to melt the ice, cut open the bags, drain it down the sink (garbage disposal assistance recommended), dry the bags, and stick ’em with the other store drop-off stuff. So, let’s be honest, doing all that in a planet-friendly way does add to the whole time devoted to Nurture Life prep. Amortize that across the 15 meals you’ll get in a box and it’s still a heck of a lot less time than cooking full-on meals, but, worth noting.
Customer experience is a little rough around the edges. I’m a customer experience nerd, so do note I’m picky. 2 things jumped out at me with Nurture Life. First of all—subscription management. This is a bit clunky. Yes, you can pause your subscription until you want to resume it. Yes you can skip weeks (though you can only skip the next 3 calendar weeks before you need to pause your subscription. It’d be handier to be able to skip weeks a month or two in advance if, for example, you have a vacation coming up. And, the subscription management online tools are just a little clunky. Like you can tell Nuture Life put in more work to their front-end website than the back-end subscription tools. Second thing, customer service. I would swear to you I skipped a week when testing, we got a box in the mail anyway. Could this have been user error? 100%. I’m a tired parent like most of us. I wrote to customer service about this, received a pretty un-sympathetic email to the tune of, ‘no, you didn’t skip, and we have the screenshots to prove it’. Fine, fair, but I always appreciate it when companies put in more effort here. Not that the customer needs to be right at all costs, but, empathy is nice. Ditto when I canceled my subscription — a fairly generic ‘sorry to see you go’ and that was that.
Is Nurture Life worth it?
So, when it comes down to it, is Nurture Life worth it? Well, like many things in life, the answer is, it depends. There’s a lot to love about Nurture Life. They get a lot of things right, and they genuinely seem like a company committed to the right things in kids’ nutrition. If it fits in your budget, and you’re short on time to cook meals at home, getting them delivered is a fantastic option, and Nurture Life is a great way to do that.
Are there ways you can get your kid a healthy meal for less? Absolutely. Can you do it more conveniently? Well, without a home chef, probably not.
You might want to know this about Nurture Life
Is Nurture Life easy to cancel?
Indeed it is. To cancel, you can use the online subscription management tools for a no-hassle cancelation, or email Nurture Life support at [email protected]
How expensive is Nurture Life?
The smallest number of Nuture Life meals you can have delivered in a box is 6. At that quantity, you’ll pay $7.99 per meal. You’ll also pay about $8 in shipping. At 9 meals/box, free shipping kicks in, but price/meal remains at $7.99. At 12, $7.16, and at 15 (the max/box), $6.99 per meal.
Where to buy
Nurture Life meals are available exclusively from the company’s website, where you can sign up for a new plan and also manage your ongoing subscription.