CINCINNATI - Sure, they are convenient, tasty and easy to make. But just how healthy are those Kroger meal kits, now available in more than 250 stores under the Prep + Pared brand name?
WCPO compared the nutrition labels of five Kroger meal kits to comparable restaurant dishes and meal kits from Hello Fresh. We looked but couldn’t find nutrition data on Blue Apron’s website, and the company didn’t respond to WCPO’s request for that information.
Bottom line: Kroger’s recipes for fish, chicken and steak dinners generally contained less sodium and more sugar than restaurant meals, while restaurants had lower fat and calorie counts in five of nine comparisons.
Kroger is looking for ways to make its meal kits as healthy as possible, said Teri Rose, senior director of culinary development for the Cincinnati-based grocery giant.
“We do try to always create a dieters choice from our dieticians group that will keep a minimum of sodium, saturated fats, carbohydrates, keep it in a lower percentage compared to the other meals,” Rose said. “But when you look at the other meals, (Kroger meal kits) may not be as low or strict but they’re a balanced, nutritional, fresh meal for our customers.”
Rose said Kroger tries to keep sodium levels below 1,000 milligrams per serving, which is roughly 40 percent of the recommended daily value for that ingredient.
“It’s really about flavor profiles,” she said. “The culinary team continues to look at those seasonings and sauces, where (sodium) is mostly hidden, and come up with different ways to season and bring the flavor profile out without adding the sodium.”
Of the five meals in the analysis below, Kroger’s Chicken Enchiladas Rojas had the highest sodium count, at 1,940 milligrams. But that was better than the 3,340 milligrams in Don Pablo’s Fiesta to Go – Enchilada Platter with Chicken.
Rose said the roughly 30 meal kits Kroger has launched to date are “right on line” with kits provided by its rivals.
“The dieters choice is exactly what those other meal kit companies are providing,” she said. “They also may provide even stricter dietetic options like keto diets and paleo and trending meals that customers are more interested in today. Ours is more just a fresh, balanced and traditional meal at this time.”
WCPO looked at daily value percentages for six ingredients – total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and total carbohydrates. Less than 25 percent of Kroger’s numbers exceeded 50 percent of the recommended daily value.
“It’s not much when you think about it as your major meal, your lunch or dinner,” Rose said. “If you keep in check what you’re eating and the amount you’re eating, it’s great option for any type of diet.”