Review: MealPal – The Best $3 Meal Service in New York City – Cheap and Delicious

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Fun fact about me: In my 2 ½ years of working professionally, I have never packed my own lunch. And I don’t plan on starting anytime soon. It’s one of my absolute favorite times of the day and I don’t mind splurging to satisfy my hunger. As I was pondering where to head for lunch – maybe the usual like Chipotle or Indikitch – I received an email from a coworker about a promo MealPal was running. I heard of MealPal before, but when I saw they were offering the first month of lunch for just $3/meal, I pulled the trigger.

MealPal is a subscription service that makes lunch more convenient and most importantly for me, more affordable. I found I was spending $12/day (or more) JUST on lunch – for over 2 years! MealPal provides members with hundreds of lunch options in New York City for a monthly fee. I was signed up and ready to order my meal in less than 5 minutes.

My Experience with MealPal After 1 Month:

I chose to sign up for 12-lunch/month plan to begin with. I figured there would be some days where I would be out to eat with a client or a coworker. Because I signed up in the afternoon, I had to wait until the following day to receive my first lunch from MealPal. I was excited to test it out. Waiting in anticipation for 5 PM, I finally received an email from MealPal saying the “Kitchen is open” and I could order my meal for the next day.

There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of options to choose from in the city and it was initially overwhelming. MealPal offers a filter to select between small, medium, or large portions, so I quickly filtered down my options. I’m usually starving by lunch and like to eat huge portions so I narrowed my choices and selected the large portion filter.  My first meal was from a Mediterranean restaurant called Nanoosh I heard good things about. By 5:05 PM, I had locked in my ideal meal – chicken shawarma over rice.

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Look at all the options!

The entire next morning was spent checking the clock over and over again until 12:30 when I could finally retrieve my lunch. When I arrived at Nanoosh the place was absolutely slammed. I spotted a separate stand for MealPal and so I approached with the MealPal app open on my phone and showed the employee my number. Within 60 seconds, I was in and out of Nanoosh with my lunch in hand. Why on earth did I not sign up for this service earlier? Not only did I skip a huge line and save 20 minutes, but my lunch was phenomenal as well.

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My favorite meal on MealPal from Nanoosh

Maybe I have an addictive personality, but I couldn’t WAIT to order my lunch for the next day. 5 o’clock couldn’t come fast enough. Finally, the kitchen opened and I scanned my choices in the city. There was an Indian restaurant offering Biryani (Indian chicken with rice) roughly 5-6 blocks away from where I worked. I locked it in. It wouldn’t be too far of a walk, right?

WRONG! This day in NYC there was a serious heat wave wreaking havoc in the city. This was the sweatiest day of my entire life. I sweat in the morning at the gym. I sweat on the train ride to work. And I sweat – profusely – walking to retrieve my MealPal lunch. I seriously miscalculated how far the restaurant actually was and ended up walking around 10 blocks. When I got to the restaurant, my body was felt like it was forcefully spraying sweat from every pore. I pondered whether I should call an Uber back to work. I decided to eat my meal in the restaurant instead, still dripping sweat.

This was one of the most uncomfortable meals I’ve ever eaten. The biryani was scorching hot and spicy and did the impossible – made me sweat even more. After finishing, I walked back to work (should’ve called that Uber). Worst lunch of my life.

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At this point, just call it quits and go home for the day

All in all it just terrible experience, although it was my own fault. The map on MealPal can be deceiving, I vowed to only order again within a block or two from where I worked. Who knew that ordering and picking up lunch could be such a roller coaster of emotions.

Since then, my experience with MealPal was nothing but awesome. Before I signed up, I was frequenting the same lunch spots over and over again. I was getting bored with my options. The terrific thing with MealPal is that it empowers you to explore new spots everyday. They say variety is the spice of life!

Even better, I was skipping the line everywhere. Every time, I was in and out the restaurant in 5 minutes max.  Although I usually don’t mind waiting in line, this was an unexpected benefit. I always felt smug walking in the restaurant, seeing the peasants waiting in line, grabbing my lunch and strolling out.

Not everything about MealPal is great.

One thing I don’t like about MealPal is that if you don’t order all of your meals for the month, they don’t roll over to the next. Worse, if you miss a lunch, you can’t order more than 1 lunch at a time. There should be an option where if you miss a day, you can order 2 the next. Otherwise your meal just goes to waste that you paid for! Someone needs to tweet this to Mary Biggins and Katie Ghelli.

If you’re thinking about switching up your lunch and saving some money – I recommend giving MealPal a go! Have you tried MealPal before? What did you think?

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