Nurture Life Toddler Meal Subscription Review + Coupon – April 2018
Since Nurture Life meals are prepared fresh and meant to be kept in your fridge, they come packaged with an expiration date that will be about 1 week from the time you receive your box. They offer customized plans for all ages from 6 months to 14 years, and subscribers can choose which meals they want to receive.
They are also peanut, tree nut, and shellfish free:
Major allergens such as peanuts, tree nuts (except coconut) and shellfish are never used in our kitchen. The kitchen does contain coconut, dairy, eggs, fish, soy and wheat. While best practices are used when preparing all meals, inadvertent contact with wheat and dairy may occur, even on meals that don’t contain wheat or dairy. If your child has a major food allergy, we recommend that you closely review meal descriptions and ingredients to see if our kids food delivery service is right for them. We list full ingredients on our subscription site and meal labels.
We received this box for review purposes. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
This review is of the 5 meals per week Toddler plan from Nurture Life, $47/week ($9.40 per meal), plus a preview of some of their Baby options.
About Nurture Life Prepared Meals for Kids
The Subscription Box: Nurture Life
The Price: Nurture Life ranges from $35/week to $119/week, depending on age range and # of meals per week. Shipping is an additional $6 per plan.
- Baby Meals (6-12 months): $35+/week for 8 meals, $60+/week for 16 meals (price varies by age group)
- Toddler Meals (1-3 years): $47/week for 5 meals, $89/week for 10 meals
- Kid Meals (4-14 years): $52+/week for 5 meals, $99+/week for 10 meals (price varies by age group)
The Products: Fresh prepared meals for kids from 6 months to 14 years old. Nurture life focuses on in-season and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, and their meals include no artificial colors or flavors, trans fats or high fructose corn syrup.
Ships to: Limited US delivery range; enter your zip code on their site to find out if they ship to you.
Nurture Life Prepared Foods for Kids Review
My son is about to turn three, and we’ve been kind of stuck in a rut when it comes to getting him to try new foods lately. When I was pregnant with him, I totally thought I’d be able to get my kids to eat what we eat for dinner– but life just hasn’t turned out that way! Even though I cook dinner from scratch almost every night, we rely on frozen chicken nuggets for his dinner more than I’d like to admit. I work full-time and it’s just too crazy to cook two full dinners every night.
Like most toddlers, he’s very into being independent right now… so when the opportunity came up to review this box, my first thought was: he might enjoy getting a box of meals just for him. Previewing the menu, I also thought the meals looked a lot more well rounded than what he usually eats, so I was onboard and ready to go!
Nurture Life includes a few large format cards in their box, explaining their brand, approach, nutrition, and more.
I liked right away that they emphasize all-natural, antibiotic free, and vegetable-fed meats. They also use local, fresh, and organic produce when possible (though not 100%).
Big wins for me? No artificial ingredients, no refined sugars, no trans fats or high fructose corn syrup. Avoiding those things is a big part of why I cook from scratch myself every day, and I feel substantial mom-guilt sometimes about serving up processed chicken nuggets and french fries when our son just won’t eat anything else.
They also show a selection of meals that are recommended for picky eaters; all 4 of 5 of our meals that we sampled are from this list. Nurture Life has a rotation of “seasonal” dishes alongside these “favorites” that look like they are always available.
Plus, helpful instructions for changing your menu up for the next delivery, if you find a meal your kid loves or hates. If your toddler is anything like mine, they have very strong likes and dislikes, so this is super important to get the most value (and the least amount of wasted food) from this meal box.
Now, on to our first meal!
Chicken Bites, Mashed Yams & Green Beans
Nutritional Summary: 230 calories, 5g fat, 280mg sodium, 8g sugar, 15g protein
As I originally thought, my son was SUPER excited when I brought home a box of food just for him. He unpacked everything on the kitchen floor and wanted to dig in right away. Yay! Our first success!
I was also not surprised that he chose the Chicken Bites for his first meal; the kid just loves chicken.
He was so excited that I couldn’t even get a photo without his hand in it 😉
I opted to heat all of our dishes up in the microwave instead of the oven; instructions are provided for both. All of the dishes come in similar black segmented containers with plastic film, and heat up in our microwave was only 90 seconds. So much faster than frozen food!
He asked to dish this one out on a plate and wasn’t so sure about the sweet potatoes at first (so we just gave him a spoonful). But, as you can see:
He gobbled up all of the chicken and yams in no time flat… and he even ate about a third of the green beans. This kid almost never eats anything green, so I was shocked!
I tasted a bit of the veggies myself. I think the yams were lightly sweetened with maple syrup, but not overly so; I’m a big fan of sweet potatoes and I liked how these were prepared. The green beans tasted nice and fresh, too, and weren’t too mushy (my biggest complaint about frozen beans!). The chicken nuggets definitely tasted more homemade than the frozen variety and were much less greasy.
Overall, I thought this first dish was a hit and got him excited to try more.
Turkey, Carrot & Pumpkin Sauce Over Butternut Squash Ravioli
Nutritional Summary: Unknown (Only a vegetarian version of this recipe was available online when I was writing this review.)
This was his choice for dinner the following night. Once again, prep was a breeze! This meal looked and smelled pretty delicious to me, too; I love butternut squash and thought the meat and veggie sauce was a great way to work some extra protein and vitamins in.
Sadly, my son despises carrots and has always been iffy on pasta, so he only ate a few bites of this. I did manage to get him to eat most of the chunks of turkey at least.
Since kids sometimes have nights where they just don’t want anything, we tried this again for lunch the next day, but he still wasn’t interested. My husband ended up eating it instead and said it was delicious. (Side note: my husband also hates carrots, so this was a surprise to me!) I do at least give props to my kid for trying it, which is more than he usually does when it comes to new food.
Teriyaki Salmon with Brown Rice
Nutritional Summary: 300 calories, 12g fat, 410mg sodium, 11g sugar, 19g protein
After the ravioli failure, I wasn’t really sure how this meal would go over. Teriyaki is sweet and therefore probably a bit more palatable for toddlers, but salmon can be a bit adventurous for some kids. My son has had various fishes before, but never more than a couple bites at a time.
Verdict? He absolutely crushed this. He gobbled up that salmon like there was no tomorrow, and then asked for more. I even got him to eat the broccoli (!), although he wouldn’t eat more than one spoonful of rice.
Note for myself: I should be cooking salmon more often because it’s definitely something the whole family likes.
Chicken Meatballs & Pasta with Broccoli & Cauliflower
Nutritional Summary: 290 calories, 11g fat, 710mg sodium, 4g sugar, 18g protein
Our other favorite frozen-food standby is meatballs. They’re higher in sodium and additives than I like, but my son really, really loves them so I tend to give in. These were also pretty high in sodium, to be honest (this meal comprising 47% of a toddler’s DRV of sodium), but they were much leaner and had way fewer ingredients overall.
He readily gobbled up the meatballs, of course. I was shocked that he actually ate the pasta, too! Seriously: I’m not sure if it’s a texture thing or what exactly, but we’ve never been able to get him to eat pasta until recently. This was the first time he ate a whole serving.
The veggies were unseasoned from what I could tell. Once again, he ate the broccoli– woo! He tasted the cauliflower, but we only got one bite out of him. I feel like this experience has really helped him realize that it’s OK to try new things, though.
Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower
Nutritional Summary: 320 calories, 13g of fat, 590mg sodium, 4g sugar, 14g protein
We saved this one for last because I pretty much knew it wouldn’t go over well. On the whole spectrum of pasta dishes, my son despises mac and cheese the most. I think he literally has only eaten it once, at his very first Thanksgiving dinner when he was about 8 months old.
He genuinely seemed curious, until I got a spoonful close to his face. No go, mommy.
That said, I did eat this myself, because why let it go to waste? For my palate, I found it needed a bit of salt and pepper, but otherwise, it was quite tasty and you could have convinced me it was homemade. The cauliflower is blended into the cheese sauce, which is one of my personal favorite tricks for making mac and cheese a teeny tiny bit more healthy (although I usually use butternut squash instead). The texture was great, very creamy sauce and the pasta wasn’t mushy.
Because of the sauce, this seemed to be the only dish we received that had some unusual ingredients; things I wouldn’t normally cook with myself, like stabilizers (guar gum or xanthan gum) and natural ingredients solely for added color (annatto). From my limited knowledge of food science, I felt like the stabilizers were necessary for this sauce to “hold” over time in shipment and in the fridge, and of course, none of these ingredients are artificial.
Baby Food Samples
Nurture Life doesn’t usually send baby food along with the toddler meal boxes, but they wanted to show us their baby products, too. (In past age-range focused reviews I’ve written, some people have commented they’d love to see what the brand offers for younger or older kids, too, so we decided to give you a preview.)
First up is this simple Butternut Squash puree meant for Stage 1 (6+ month) eaters. These are big 4 oz containers, meant to be refrigerated, are also marked with an expiration date.
I taste-tested this, for science. 😉 This was pretty plain, as you might expect from a puree that just includes butternut squash and water. But I was impressed with the incredibly smooth consistency. Since I work full time, I could rarely find the time to make my own baby food from scratch when my son was that age, but I love that there are more prepared fresh versions available these days.
Next up, this Blackberry, Apple, & Chia Puree for Stage 2 (8+ month) babies. I loved the bright color and this one was also quite tasty; I think it really needed the apple to sweeten things up. It had a little more texture thanks to the chia.
I liked that this was an unusual combo, too. I’ve noticed more and more chia popping up in the last couple years in the more ‘natural’ baby food brands, but blackberry actually seems a bit uncommon to me. Keep in mind it’s been a few years since we’ve regularly had baby food in the house, though, so maybe that has changed.
Finally, the Chicken Meatballs & Pasta for Stage 3 (10+ months) eaters. I couldn’t bring myself to try this one. (I’m usually game, but I’m pregnant and some things are just not appetizing at all right now.) But, it looks like it would be ideal for kids who are learning how to self-feed. And the chicken is actually cut up meatballs, so it’s seasoned (not just plain) chicken– I’m all about exposing kids to yummy new flavors and seasonings as early as possible.
Once again, all of these are freshly prepared and have an expiration date listed on the label. They’re sealed with plastic wrap but come with a screw top so that you can refrigerate any unused portion easily, and the wide neck makes for easy from-the-jar feeding, too.
The baby plans start at $35 for 8 Stage 1 meals/week ($4.37 each), $45 for 8 Stage 2 meals/week ($5.62/each), and $55 for 8 Stage 3 meals/week ($6.87 each). Our son was a voracious eater once he started on solids, so I think this would have been totally out of our budget, but it does look to be comparable to (and slightly better than) pricing for similar services like Little Spoon.
Overall, I was really pleased with the quality and variety of the food delivered by Nurture Life. These are meals that my husband and I would enjoy even if we didn’t have a picky three-year-old on our hands! A few needed a bit of salt and pepper in my opinion, but I’d much rather add that on my own than have over-seasoned food that doesn’t suit my palate. Nutrition-wise, I was happy to see that these were all relatively high in protein and very low in sugar, and only one meal was higher in sodium than I’d have liked.
While my son didn’t love all of these out of the gate, I think you have to expect a bit of that when you’re trying something new. Since you can pick your meals, you can adjust accordingly once you know what your kid loves or hates. And honestly, having some new things on his plate was great for us; my son tried things he normally wouldn’t have.
At about $10/serving, Nurture Life’s toddler plan is more expensive than I’d like but still cheaper than eating similar meals out. As with many things, I feel like it’s always helpful to remind everyone that when looking for Quality, Convenience, and Price, the saying goes that you can only pick your top two. 😉 While this subscription is more expensive than similar kid-focused meal box Yumble (which Brandi recently reviewed), I felt like the quality of the ingredients and preparation was there for the price. These are feel-good, healthy meals that I’d cook for my son if I had time, and I personally liked that they didn’t include throw-in sides like dried fruit and chocolate covered pretzels; we have plenty of snack food in our pantry already.
One thing to consider is that the meals are fresh and therefore have a short shelf life, about a week after you receive your box; if you’re not planning on serving Nurture Life every night for dinner or every day for lunch, you may end up wasting food. It works for my family since we eat at home almost every night anyway, but if your schedule is less predictable and you frequently eat at restaurants, I’d take that into consideration.
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? Some of these meals are still available, but Nurture Life does change out some of their options seasonally.
Coupon – Use code ADDICTION to save 30% off your first order!
Value Breakdown: At $47 for this plan, plus $6 shipping, you’re paying $10.60 per meal.
Check out the Food Subscription Box Directory for more meal boxes!
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Do you subscribe to Nurture Life? Would your kid enjoy getting a meal box just for them?