Pete’s Real Food Review and Unboxing: Not What I Expected

My Pete’s Real Food review and unboxing story is funny. I was already nervous about trying the AIP protocol because I thought everything would be bland and I’d just be miserable. When I saw the meals, I had a jumble of thoughts flash through my mind all at once (not all good or bad). Some of them made me wonder if I’d taken a wrong turn in my journey through all the meal delivery services I can try.

petes real food box with crystal
I was happy when my Pete’s Real Food order showed up! Image by Crystal Schwanke

After Trying Pete’s Real Food, Would I Recommend Ordering It?

Yes! I would order Pete’s Reall Food again, and would recommend this to anyone who needs to follow the AIP diet (which can be quite restrictive and boring).

Pete’s Real Food surprised me. After diving into a refresher on the AIP diet and remembering just how much I’d need to avoid, I expected any meals I received from any service to be boring if they adhered to the guidelines. (Note: Don’t blindly trust menus marked “AIP” because some of them I looked at had a few issues. Pete’s Real Food didn’t have any that I saw.)

Did the food sound and sometimes look bland? Yes. Did it taste bland? No. There were no explosions of flavor or anything, but I was impressed because each meal had its own flavor profile. The flavors were more subtle than you’d find on other menus. Still, Pete’s Real Food did a marvelous job with the more limited list of AIP-friendly ingredients to work with. I’d love to try another type of menu sometime.

Pete’s Real Food Features

I think Pete’s Real Food is best known for their paleo meals, but I found them through their AIP menu. Other menus include keto, vegan, mix-and-match, and kids lunches. There’s also the option to purchase extras, like bacon, broth, snacks, and treats.

You can filter by meal plan (be sure to do that even after you select an option from the dropdown menu at the top of the page) or choose meals from across several different menus. I love the option to embrace variety and hope to go back and purchase from their other menus, not just AIP, because I was so impressed by the flavors in the meals I chose.

As you scroll through the selection, you’ll notice that the ingredients are seasonal, which is better for you. When I tried it right after Thanksgiving, there was even turkey on the menu, plus lots of squash, yams, apples, and sweet potatoes.

Prices range from around $5.00 for kids’ meals to $19.00 for adults’ meals with ingredients like steak. Some of the AIP options I purchased were on the higher end of that spectrum, even without steak.

You can choose five to 17 meals per order and easily schedule deliveries for every one, two, three, or four weeks. If you don’t want a subscription, that’s okay, too. Just toggle off the Subscribe & Save button at the top of the menu page. Prices will be slightly higher when you don’t subscribe (it’s also easy to delay or cancel your subscription once you’ve signed up).

Pros

  • They made me enjoy meals I expected to be so boring I’d have to suffer through them.
  • They even made me like pork, which rarely happens.
  • Meals were flavorful despite the AIP ingredient restrictions.
  • Decent calorie counts and macros–I felt full and energized but not sick.
  • They stack so well in the refrigerator that they barely require any space.
  • The plastic is easy to remove after you’ve heated the meals, once you get the hang of it.
  • Frequent updates via email

Cons

  • The shipping cost
  • Some meals looked more appetizing than others (they look better once you heat them up)
  • Because they’re vacuum-sealed, the plastic sits right on top of the food as you heat it in the microwave, which isn’t my favorite.
  • Expensive
  • The website seemed glitchy at times.
petes real food meals stacked on counter
I loved how little space these took up in the refrigerator. Image by Crystal Schwanke

Cons

  • The shipping cost
  • Some meals looked more appetizing than others (they look better once you heat them up)
  • Because they’re vacuum-sealed, the plastic sits right on top of the food as you heat it in the microwave, which isn’t my favorite.
  • Expensive
  • The website seemed glitchy at times.

My Pete’s Real Food Review & Unboxing Experience

Ordering

I ordered on November 24th, and they had a note that delivery would be between November 29th and December 1st. I believe this is a longer window than you’d experience during any non-holiday time of the year, but Thanksgiving shifted the schedule a bit. My meals showed up on December 1st.

Pete’s Real Food emailed me updates along the way, so even though that felt like a big window of time at first, I was never left wondering where my meals were. Until the end, when FedEx was late (more on that in a minute).

I had to be careful to go back and select the AIP-friendly filter after I clicked on the AIP menu from the dropdown menu, so double-check your ingredients and ensure the filter’s applied.

pete's real food mix & match aip menu
Pete’s Real Food Mix & Match AIP menu. Image by Crystal Schwanke

There were only a few options to choose from, but there were enough meals to keep things interesting. The week I ordered, there was a lot of chicken, turkey, and pork.

Word of advice: Save all the emails they send you after you order. When I tried to log back in from the site the first time, it said my account didn’t exist. At that point, I’d already ordered a box of meals. I could click Manage Subscription directly from an email and get right in. From there, it was easy to skip upcoming charges and eventually cancel.

At checkout, I tried to use a coupon code they advertised on their site, but it said it wasn’t valid for the items in my cart. I never figured out if that was a glitch or what the code would work with.

petes real food checkout total screenshot
I wish the discount code had worked with my order. You can also see the almost-total price here (a couple more dollars were added later). Image by Crystal Schwanke

Pricing

It was $135.50 for five meals. The meals themselves ranged from $16.00 to $19.00. Then there was the shipping, which I’ll get to in a minute (yowza!), a $2.98 Sustainability & Coverage fee, and state and county taxes based on where I live (about $7.50, total). That means, on average, the meals were roughly $27.10 each.

If you adhere to an AIP menu and depend on a meal delivery service to do it, that still might be worth it. Only a few companies offer an AIP diet option; when they do, they can also be incredibly expensive.

If you live in San Diego, you can save a ton by going to pick your meals up in person.

Shipping

If I never order from Pete’s Real Food again, it’ll be because of shipping costs. Granted, it’s a smaller company than some others I’ve tried, and the box had to make it across the country before it went bad. Still, paying $40.10 for shipping on almost anything is painful. Another company I considered wanted to charge me around $100.00 to ship meals my way, so this price still might count as a small blessing.

The shipping process was mostly smooth. The box shipped within a reasonable time frame (they ship on Wednesdays) and made it to me with ice packs still going strong (they promise the meals by Thursday or Friday). It was just after Thanksgiving, so the temperatures weren’t as brutal as they can be in July or August, but I think they’d still survive just fine.

FedEx ran late by about five hours, which is understandable at this time of year. I was nervous they wouldn’t deliver the box at all and wondered if my food would arrive spoiled.

petes real food box
The Pete’s Real Food box was smaller than I expected it to be. Image by Crystal Schwanke

Packaging

This was pretty standard. Based on what I’ve received from other companies, the cardboard box was smaller than I expected. Still, the meals were so compact, there was plenty of room for them and all the insulation and ice packs.

petes real food box side view
I love the branding on these. Image by Crystal Schwanke

First Impressions

I’d be lying if I said I was excited when I pulled all those meals out of the box. Some looked enticing. Others made me wonder, “Is that meat…raw?” Spoiler: They were, in fact, cooked and seasoned well.

Once I started eating them, I couldn’t stop. I expected to have to choke a couple of the meals down. Still, they were all delicious enough that I ate them without getting distracted by my phone while taking notes on what I thought of the food. Even the pork was good, and I usually don’t enjoy that (to the point where I usually won’t even order it).

Subscription Management and Cancelling

Once I could log back in through the link in my email, subscription management and cancellation were a breeze. It was user-friendly and easy to navigate.

petes real food cancellation screenshot
Pete’s Real Food cancellation was easy. Screenshot by Crystal Schwanke
petes real food manage subscription screenshot
Everything about the subscription management area was straightforward. Screenshot by Crystal Schwanke

What I Got

Because I was exploring the AIP menu, I chose a few things I would normally skip over, like rutabagas and pork. Overall, the meals let the ingredients’ natural flavors sing, and the chef did an excellent job of bringing out each dish’s subtle sweet and savory highlights. The AIP meals I got were 11.5 oz.

Thyme Roasted Turkey with Artichoke and Fennel Barigoule and Roasted Rutabaga

Even though this one looked good in the package, it was the first one I tried, and I had low expectations going into it. However, I was pleasantly surprised! Usually, I’m not too fond of rutabagas even though I grew up eating them. These tasted buttery, and the texture was perfect.

The artichokes were more on the plain side, and I didn’t like them at first, but they grew on me with every bite. I had no complaints about the turkey, either, aside from it being just a smidge dry (turkey usually is, so I’m not holding that against them).

Roasted Garlic Grilled Chicken with Crispy Garlic Broccoli

This meal had the most flavor of any of them–all in the form of delicious garlic. The broccoli really soaked it up. The chicken was “okay” and still had some garlic flavor, but the broccoli was the meal’s star. Luckily, there was also a lot of it (more was hiding under the chicken). The chicken was slightly dry and didn’t look incredibly appetizing once I got into it, but I don’t especially enjoy chicken thighs, either, so that could be a me thing. This really felt like a ton of food.

Garlic and Herb Turkey Roulade with Apples, Onions, and Roasted Yams

This one reminded me a lot of the previous turkey meal. I enjoyed the apple side more than the artichoke one–I love a good savory apple side–but the texture was about the same. The yams were delightful, just as the rutabagas were, and hit the spot. Nothing bland about them. The turkey flavor was good–very herby–and this meat was more moist than the other turkey meal.

Chicken Sausage and Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Gravy

Oh, man, this was the one that made me mentally take a step back when I pulled it out of the box. I wasn’t looking forward to it and it was the fourth meal I tried. It didn’t look done when everything was all sealed up (it looked better when I heated it up). The sweet potato mash was good, a perfect blend of savory and sweet.

The sausage was much better than expected. A little on the bland side, but it still had enough flavor to make me eat it all. I liked it more with each bite. It was slightly higher in calories than I’d usually eat at 660, but not too bad.

I probably wouldn’t get the chicken sausage again if there were a lot of other options available. Still, I’d love the potatoes to be a side for something else. Still, I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if I needed to eat the chicken sausage again.

Balsamic Braised Pulled Pork with Acorn Squash and Sauteed Kale

This one turned me off initially for two reasons: It didn’t look especially appetizing in the packaging (it improved once it’d been reheated), and it was pork, which I don’t usually enjoy. I got it because options were limited, and I wanted to get a good feel for what the AIP menu had to offer.

Plus, I’m a sucker for any squash, and the acorn squash intrigued me. I also love kale more than the average human, I’m sure. The pork was good enough for me to order it again–shocking. The squash had a good, soft texture but not a lot of noticeable added flavor (still, the flavor of squash stands on its own).

It was understated, but not bland. The same thing goes for the kale. It was softer than the kale I usually eat, and the simple flavor reminded me of the turnips and collards I grew up eating at my grandparents’ house (traditional Southern cooking).

Other Options to Try

Meal Pro

Best Heart Healthy Meal Delivery Services mealpro

The AIP meals from Meal Pro are packaged similarly to the Pete’s Real Food ones, and they’re full of lean protein and non-cruciferous vegetables, cooked soft. You may see Meal Pro refer to their AIP meals as IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) meals. They were also costly to ship to me (even more than Pete’s), so I recommend checking that before you get too invested.

One thing you might not like with Meal Pro is the need to order 20 meals at a time (which also explains a high shipping cost), so it’s not easy to test it out without a big commitment. There are ten meals, and you get two of each one. I’d love to see the option to put your own box together and have five or 10 meals to start.

The menu’s currently full of chicken, a little turkey, some yams, and peas. The meats are varied–there are prawns, salmon, and cod in the mix with the chicken and turkey–but the sides are a bit lackluster for me, compared to other options. (I’m not huge on peas and carrots, but the rice and pasta are interesting.)

Paleo on the Go

paleo on the go

Paleo on the Go‘s AIP menu has family options, like chicken nuggets, individual meals, and extras (like bacon). The meals are on the pricier side, however. For example, the Tuscan Salmon with Artichoke Spinach Sauce and Asparagus is $26.75. As of this writing, this week’s least expensive meal is $20.95, except soups for $17.95.

I love the well-stocked AIP bakery at Paleo on the Go. You’ll also find a selection of soups, bone broths, breakfast options, and sauces. This is a robust AIP menu for a meal delivery service.

You’ll have four options if you decide to start an order–subscriptions for small (eight items), medium (12), or large (16) boxes, or a one-time, eight-item box. Subscribing can save you up to nine percent. Not up to building your own box? You can choose the AIP bundle, and they’ll fill your cart for you. You can select whether you want shipments every two, four, or eight weeks at checkout.

Shipping is expensive here, too, but not as bad–$31.92 via FedEx 2-Day Air. And this is for 12 items, not five. It is still more than the $10.00 shipping I’m used to, but it is less painful.

Fresh N Lean

Suppose you’re interested in Pete’s Real Food because of the paleo option and don’t need the stricter AIP guidelines. In that case, Fresh N Lean is an excellent option to consider. They have paleo and Whole30 meal plans to choose from. The flavors were hit or miss for me because some were a little more bland than I’d have preferred, but they impressed me with some of their meals, too, with unexpected flavor profiles.

Fresh N Lean‘s shipping is free nationwide as long as you spend at least $100.00, so that’s a relief. The meals aren’t quite as expensive per serving as some other options (but again, Fresh N Lean doesn’t have an official AIP-friendly menu). The meals are fresh, but they can be frozen (just like Pete’s Real Food’s) if you don’t get around to eating them by the expiration date. The packaging is similar.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are available, but you can choose the combination that works for you. You can also opt for the five-day or seven-day plan.

Best Restriction Diet Friendly
Why Go With Fresh N' Lean?

Fresh N' Lean offers organic, non-GMO ingredients available to suit a wide variety of leading restriction diets like Keto, Paleo, Whole30, Mediterranean Diet, Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, and more. If you need a delicious meal prep service to fit your diet, Fresh N' Lean is the one.

Find Your Plan
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FAQs About Pete’s Real Food

Question: Is Pete’s Paleo worth it?

Answer: It seems like Pete’s Real Food is best known for their paleo menu, and based on the AIP one I tried, I’d have to give a wholehearted “yes” it’s worth it, especially if your shipping costs aren’t as high as mine. I appreciate their attention to detail, so I’d trust them to prepare meals for any diet and make them a delight to eat.

Question: Is the paleo diet inflammatory?

Answer: It is the opposite. This study determined that paleo and Mediterranean (and similar) diets may lower inflammation levels.

Question: What not to eat on paleo?

Answer: You can get a full rundown of the paleo diet at Healthline, but generally, you’ll be avoiding processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and a lot of dairy, grains, and legumes.

Conclusion: Other than the Expensive Shipping, Pete’s Real Food Is Worth a Try

I don’t have any serious complaints about Pete’s Real Food. They exceeded my expectations in flavor, packaging, and communication and met all others. The only thing holding me back from ordering another box is the shipping cost, so if that’s not an issue for you and you’re looking for AIP meal delivery (or even paleo, keto, or vegan), they’re worth a look.

Continue reading:

Best Paleo Meal Delivery Services: The Paleolithic Diet at Its Best in the Modern Era of Delivery!

My Fresh n Lean Review and Unboxing: A Few Surprises

Best Cheap Meal Delivery Services Guide

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