Bored with your supermarket’s natural snack options? Looking for more wholesome tasty treats for the kids? Maybe you could use a little help in making healthier choices?
These were some of the reasons I signed up for NatureBox's monthly snack delivery subscription service back in early 2013. I thought their prices were reasonable and the concept was intriguing: a hassle-free way to have a steady supply of grab and go snack pouches at the ready, delivered to my doorstep with no additional shipping charges. What really got me was that all their products are nutritionist approved and guaranteed to have no artificial sweeteners, no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, no high fructose corn syrup and no transfats. Having received shipments for some time now, I can say that some snacks they offer are healthier than others.
Since I've signed up, NatureBox has reliably provided the promised service. Here's how it works: On a set date each month NatureBox mails out your shipment of five different natural goodies. Snacks range from artisan blend granolas (think Banana Bread and Agave Citrus), spiced nuts (such as Chipotle Maple Almonds), dried fruits, a variety of cookie and bar type snacks (including Pistachio Power Clusters), trail mixes, and chips (such as Guacamole Bites and Honey Crunch Crips). Generally each snackbag contains about three to four servings.
You have the option to sign up at three different levels. I've been at the cheapest package which works well for my small household. You can always add on additional snacks for a few dollars more per bag, as needed. In my case, I added on a few extra snacks in the summer to take along on our day trips to the beach. So you can get an idea of the subscription costs, I'm listing the prices as of February 15, 2014 (with shipping included):
- “Deluxe Package”- one set of five snacks for USD $19.95,
- “Happy Snacker” - ten snacks (five different snackbags, two packs of each) for USD $29.95, and
- “Smart Snacker” – twenty snacks (five different snackbags, four packs of each) for USD $49.95
Once you're signed up, you can either select the contents of your shipment each month, or allow their team of “snack experts” to make the picks for you. Personally, I like to choose my own snacks ahead of time and would advise others to do the same so that you know that you are going to like the type of foods you're getting. Heads up! Should you choose the personalization option, be aware that the same selections will be auto-shipped to you the following month if you do not log back into your account and make changes. If you go for the experts’ picks option, then the contents of your shipment will be centered around a common theme, some previous examples include their “Autumn Eats and Treats” or “Wholesome Comfort Foods” boxes. You are free to cancel or suspend shipments at any time; so far, I've had no problems placing my account on hold for a month or two as needed.
It can be challenging to find tasty snacks when you are affected by a food allergy or sensitivity. I think NatureBox does a great job at identifying ingredients of possible concern, such as gluten, soy, lactose and nuts. The company also demonstrates consideration for its consumers’ ethical concerns by labeling products that are vegan and/or free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Their website even allows you to search for products that meet any or all of these criteria. At the time of this article, the company offered over 90 product options, about 25% of which were non-GMO, another 50% were nut-free, and another 70% were appropriate for the “gluten conscious.”
Considering that NatureBox’s snackbag prices range from USD $2.50 – $4.00 depending on subscription level, I feel that some choices are a better value than others. In my opinion, some selections, such as their dried Citrus Chipotle Chickpeas, Country Ranch Sunflower Seeds, and Smoky Pumpkin Seeds are worth the price because they offer a greater number of servings when compared to other snacks offered, plus they are unique enough that I can’t find them easily (if at all) someplace else. The flavored nuts (such as Lemon Pucker Pistachios, Blueberry Almonds, and Siracha Cashews) are an excellent value.
A few products, while delicious, contained portions too small for my liking. For example, their silver dollar sized mini cookies (marketed as Blueberry Nom Noms and Peanut Butter Nom Noms) are around 90 calories each and come about 4 to a bag – they’re good to stash in a child’s lunchbox, but I could buy an entire box of cookies for that price! The site offers a few varieties of Asian-style rice crackers, which are not much different from the kinds you can find in your local supermarket in bigger bags for a lower price. Plantain chips, which NatureBox markets as South Pacific Plantain Chips, can also be found (you’ll get more for less) in the ethnic section of most supermarkets. In general, I would avoid selecting items that you can find easily and instead take advantage of the more unique, gourmet snacks.
NatureBox is always getting new products which adds variety and a bit of excitement to the subscription plan. You can be ambitious and try something new; I like that if you're ever dissatisfied with a selection, you can contact them - they will include a free replacement snack in your next shipment. I’ve even received an unsolicited bonus snack from time to time! Overall, I think NatureBox has a great service (which could be the reason behind the company's rapid growth), perfect for busy, health conscious people. Their grab and go snack pouches are great for families with small kids, but the portions are too small to satisfy the ravenous appetites of older kids and teenagers.
Save money by bringing your own lunches and snacks
ditch the plastic for BPA-free stainless steel
Amazon Price: $24.96 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 30, 2016)