Three things I know: You're busy. I'm busy. And it takes a lot of time to prepare and cook healthy meals.

And that's a real problem, because studies show a perceived lack of time is the most frequently reported barrier to healthy eating. After all, most people already know what they should eat--they just don't have the time (or think they don't have the time, which amounts to the same thing).

My issue is a little different. I have the time to cook healthy meals--I just don't feel like it. To me, cooking is a pain in the ass. That's why I eat a ton of tuna, barley or rice, bagged salad, and apples and bananas. Easy. Steam a bunch of rice or barley ahead of time and heat up a portion, open a can of tuna, dump some salad on the plate ... In three minutes, I'm eating.

Of course, that's also a pretty boring way to eat.

So I've thought about meal delivery services like Hello Fresh, which I'm sure is a great company. But while sending me ingredients and preparation instructions does save a trip to the grocery store, it still means I have to slice and dice and fry and bake, and, yeah, I have zero interest in all that.

So I went the rest of the way and tried food from Trifecta Nutrition. (Why Trifecta? I love startups, and Trifecta is a self-funded startup that has made more than $4 million in sales in its first 15 months and is projecting more than $25 million in sales for 2017, which makes it one of the largest all-organic meal delivery services in the U.S. And it's done it on a $100,000 initial investment. That's impressive.)

Trifecta provides two basic platforms. One is meals. Every meal plan offers 21 to 28 menu items each week, with macros and calories carefully calculated to stay within an ideal, evidence-based range. You can choose from vegan, vegetarian, paleo, or "clean" plans.

I'm a little more specific in my tastes (read "picky," and not in a foodie way but in an "I hate vegetables" way), so I tried a few à la carte items. I got a pound of salmon, a pound of bison patties, two pounds of mixed vegetables, and two pounds of mashed sweet potatoes. My order came precooked and vacuum-sealed in a refrigerated case.

That day, I opened the salmon, heated up a portion along with some barley, scooped some salad into a bowl, and about three minutes later, boom. Eating.

Less than a week later, I had finished it all off, and here's the verdict: Everything tasted really good. The salmon had great flavor and texture, the bison burgers were juicy and had a nice grilled taste, the veggies were as good as they could be (again, I'm not a vegetable fan, but I eat them), and the mashed sweet potatoes were surprisingly good (I'm also not the world's biggest sweet potato fan, but I eat them).

What's the bottom line? Here's one way to think about it. Remember when your mom--well, at least my mom--took pity on you and brought you containers of food she had cooked because she didn't think you were eating right? Remember how you rolled your eyes and said it wasn't necessary, even though you later heated it up and were really glad she did?

That's basically how this works, except for the mom part.

Even though the company's market is theoretically every person who feels too busy to eat healthy (which is pretty much everyone I know), Trifecta currently targets four key personas: specialists like vegans, vegetarians, and paleo dieters who eat specific types of food, and fitness enthusiasts who try to eat clean and healthy.

Since those groupings are already focused on health and fitness, they're the low-hanging fruit that helps Trifecta ramp up its operations. Growing too rapidly would only increase an already difficult scaling challenge.

Trifecta has had to expand kitchen facilities a number of times and is moving into a new shipping facility to maintain on-time shipping and delivery, clearly a mission-critical task when delivering perishables. Once the company achieves a certain scale, it will start marketing to the broader population.

And it's certainly well positioned to succeed. Food is likely to be the next e-commerce boom, and since time is the limiting factor for many who wish to eat healthier, prepared meals should make up a sizable chunk of the sector.

If that's you, give a meal delivery service (or two) a try.

Eat healthier, save time. What's not to love?

Published on: Feb 10, 2017
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