Territory Foods Is One of the Best Meal Kits for People With Special Dietary Needs
About a year into the pandemic, I’ve cracked open what feels like 12,000 cans of beans and boxes of pasta. So when the opportunity to review a meal delivery service presented itself, I was psyched. A meal kit that requires no cooking whatsoever? Sign me up.
I was attracted to Territory Foods for a few reasons (in addition to the welcome break from cooking). The company advertises that its food is made by a team of independent chefs who create meals in their own commercial kitchens and restaurants, as opposed to a central hub owned by the meal company located in another city, which is how many meal kit services operate.
Territory’s emphasis on high-quality ingredients also caught my eye. It largely relies on ingredients that are highly nutritious (whole foods rich in essential nutrients, like veggies, whole grains, or fish) and more sustainably sourced when possible. For example, it uses mostly cage-free eggs, hormone-free meat, wild-caught or sustainably farm-raised fish, and organic and/or local produce when possible.
I’ve got a couple of relevant dietary preferences (something Territory caters extremely well to): I’m not a strict vegan, but I do avoid animal products where I can—anytime I’m shopping and cooking for myself or ordering food at a place that has vegan options. I also have type 1 diabetes, meaning my body doesn’t make insulin (the hormone that moves carbs out of the bloodstream and into your cells for energy storage). So I give myself insulin at mealtimes via my insulin pump. While technically I can eat however many carbs I want as long as I match them with enough insulin, I generally try to stick to under 50–60 grams per meal to avoid blood sugar spikes—and include a good amount of fiber, protein, and fat (like many people generally looking for nutritionally balanced meals).
Another part of their business model I appreciated: A company initiative called TerritoryServes lets you purchase and donate meals to frontline workers, mainly in health care. For every two meals you give, it donates a third.
I evaluated my experience with Territory Foods based on our meal delivery kit buying guide. Here’s how it went.
Territory’s level of customization and meal selection process are excellent. There are about 45 items to choose from weekly, the majority being lunch and dinner. There are also a handful of breakfasts and à la carte family-style meal components, including family style veggie sides (like mashed potatoes), and protein mains (like sun-dried-tomato seared salmon), generally offering about three or four servings. There are also a couple of baked goods (like paleo fudge brownies) and cold brew coffee.
If having that many choices sounds overwhelming, fear not—you can quickly whittle down your options with a number of precise, easy-to-set filters:
- Diet: Territory offers 10 (!) different diet filters—including vegan, vegetarian, and Mediterranean, as well as trendy weight-loss diets like paleo, keto, and Whole30—though you can also decline to select a preference.
- Ingredients you’d like to avoid: There are dozens of options—cilantro, tree nuts, shellfish, vegan cheese, mushrooms, legumes, soy—which allows you to get pretty specific, and is great for picky eaters and people with food allergies or sensitivities.
- Taste: A simple taste quiz will influence which meals are more highly recommended to you. You can also select meals from a particular chef whose food you enjoy.
- Meal style: You can look for breakfast, lunch/dinner, and/or à la carte.
- Nutritional profile: You can opt to only see meals within an exact macronutrient range (for instance, meals between 30 and 60 grams of carbs with at least 20 grams of protein and 15 grams of fat). You can also sort meals from low to high by the amount of carbs or protein they contain. Another helpful feature is that the meal gallery page displays key nutrition facts (calories, carbs, protein, fat) for each meal without the need to click through to each individual page. This made it easy for me to steer clear of low-calorie or extra high-carb meals.
Based on the settings you choose, Territory will suggest a menu, which is extremely easy to edit to your liking. While I played around with different filters to see how they worked, the only filter I actually used was the vegan one. The meals I ended up with were:
- Berbere Split Peas with Brown Rice and Veggie Medley
- Mediterranean Tofu with Rosemary Vegetables and Basmati Rice
- Tofu Fajitas with Cauliflower Rice and Ranchero Sauce
- Vegan Eggplant Lasagna with Broccoli Almondine
- Vegetable Pot Pie Stew with Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes
- North African–Style Chickpeas with Apricot Glazed Carrots and Minted Quinoa
- Red Coconut Curry Tofu with Veggies
- Vegan RightRice Spanish-Style Paella with Mushrooms
Out of curiosity, I browsed some of the non-vegan options, too, and they sounded just as tasty (and veggie packed!) as my picks—like pistachio-crusted tuna cakes with fennel apple slaw or Greek chicken bowl with lemon tarragon rice.
The only place I ran into limited selection issues was breakfast, but this was actually not a huge disappointment for me, since I generally like to stick with the basics.
I’ll go ahead and say it: These meals are not cheap. The standard sized options, said to be “the ‘just right’ helping for most folks”—I found this to be true—start at $13.95 each. All of my meals cost that much, but many of the meat and fish options were pricier, anywhere from $15.50 to $18.95. You can also downsize and order the smaller “boost” size of a meal for $10.95, meant for “lighter eaters and grazers.” (Not I.)
The more you order, the more you save. You can pick a 10- or 18-meal plan (which gets you one free), or choose a recurring order (which saves you 5% on your weekly order).
Working with $13.95 per meal, that puts them at the top of the rough price range for a HomeChef meal-sized serving, for instance. The higher price point is in line with the pricier organic and more sustainably sourced ingredients, and the fact that all the work is done for you. Plus, the variety comes at a premium—no big batches, repeat meals, or getting bored.
While Territory isn’t the most inexpensive meal kit option, it’s a decent deal compared to takeout (which runs about $20 to $25 for me on average, including taxes, delivery fees, and tip). I can get more mileage out of takeout, though, since I can usually count on having leftovers.
Order and Delivery Process
You can order however few or many items you like a week through Territory’s custom plan or go with a pre-set 10-meal or 18-meal plan. The options to skip a delivery week or pause your subscription altogether are very easy to find. And you can choose to have meals delivered on Sunday, Wednesday, or both. (Different meals are available on different days.) Currently, the company delivers to major cities like my home base of New York City, the D.C. metro area, the Bay Area, and Houston.
I opted for a custom plan of eight meals spread across both delivery days, so that my meals would be sitting in the fridge for less time. Both deliveries went off without a hitch, and I got an email notifying me when the food was out for delivery and when it had arrived, which was nice. The food was delivered in recyclable containers, compostable paper trays and plastic lids, and packed with gel ice packs to keep it plenty cold. One of the containers had a little bit of liquid spilling out, but that’s common enough with delivery that I wasn’t too bothered.
Ease of Use
Ah, the simplest thing about Territory Foods. People who prefer to cook and those who like to sing for their supper, look elsewhere—it took about two minutes to “prep” my food.
All of the meals came labeled with simple heating instructions for the microwave and stove top—basically, heating for one or two minutes, stirring once or twice. I experimented with a few different methods: microwaving the food right in the container and then eating out of the container or plating; plating and then microwaving; and cooking in a sauce pan and then plating. I didn’t notice any difference in the taste or texture based on the cooking method I used. The meals also come with a “best enjoyed by” date based on how well the ingredients hold up. (All are good for three days after the delivery date—after that, you can freeze them.)
A big marketing point for Territory Foods is that it’s all free of gluten and dairy—which is great for people with celiac disease, a wheat allergy, or lactose intolerance—as well as refined sugar. These ingredients are not something most other people need to avoid (and refined sugar is not evil!), but could be a plus if you’re steering clear for any reason.
The company does note that the food is made in kitchens where gluten, dairy, and other allergens may be present, though—which might be a cause for concern for someone with severe celiac disease or a severe nut allergy, for instance.
The most common ingredients in the vegan meals I ordered were veggies (a nice wide variety, from leafy to root), whole grains, beans and legumes, and plant-based proteins (namely, tofu), plus some nuts and nut-based vegan cheeses.
I found my meals to be pretty well-balanced and satiating, with a nice mix of carbs, protein, and fat. Standard sized meals range, on average, between about 450 and 600 calories, while the lighter meals and snacks run between 250 to 450 calories. I noticed there was some variability, though, especially among the non-vegan options—for instance, the keto tuna cakes with pistachio crust, coleslaw, and pesto sauce were 739 calories, while standard-size meals were closer to 300. A big difference in caloric bang for your buck! But, then again, Territory is all about catering to your dietary needs, and since you can easily select for minimum calorie count and more, that shouldn’t be a problem.
For the most part, my meals were pretty tasty and satisfying. Just about everything was well-seasoned, adequately spiced, and nothing was overcooked—no mushy, undersalted veggies here—but I wouldn’t have minded a bit more oomph in a couple of dishes since I tend to double the spices and herbs a recipe calls for.
It was awesome to find dishes from a variety of cuisines too—there was always something to suit my mood sitting in the fridge. And I definitely appreciated the mix of “obviously vegan” meals (like tofu-based dishes) and “accidentally vegan” meals (like grain and bean-based dishes).
The only miss was the Mediterranean tofu with veggies and rice dish, which was oversalted, missing most of the collard greens that were promised, and contained a couple of unpleasantly tough, gristly bits of tofu.
The Bottom Line
I don’t think I realized quite how much I needed (okay, wanted) a break from cooking until my first Territory boxful of ready-made meals came. I’ve ordered takeout pretty rarely since the pandemic started—really only on special occasions, like seeing a friend or at the end of a particularly rough week. I genuinely enjoy cooking for myself most of the time, but sometimes I do get tired of it. I honestly forgot how delightful it is to not cook everything you eat.
Overall, Territory Foods offers some of the best qualities of takeout—namely, convenience and variety—while avoiding some of its downsides too. For one, the sometimes genuinely overwhelming number of options in New York. (I know, a ridiculous thing to complain about! But when I’m borderline hangry and the decision paralysis hits, it’s an issue.) Territory also removed the sometimes long and unpredictable delivery time; the cost of fees, tax, and tips; and the lack of nutrition facts. The food was also tasty, very aligned to my dietary needs, and reasonably filling. All in all, if you’re looking for a well-rounded, nutrition-packed takeout alternative, Territory Foods is a very solid choice.