The Record - Hackensack, NJ
Not for dieters only: gourmet breakfast, lunch, and dinner - delivered

August 4, 2004

Kelley Hensley doesn't know what she and her husband Jon will be eating from one weekday to the next.

And that's the way she likes it.

Meal planning is left to the experts at ZoneChef, a home-delivery diet service based in Manhattan. All Hensley has to do is pick up the black bag dropped each morning before 5 on the doorstep of her Bergen County home.

Inside the insulated bag gourmet meals are packaged in microwavable containers surrounded by dry ice. Each delivery covers breakfast, midmorning snack, lunch, midafternoon snack, and dinner.

"I'm so excited going to the door to see what I have for breakfast," Hensley said. "It's like Christmas every day."

Home delivery of special diets is growing in popularity.

Each day the 17 chefs working for ZoneChef prepare 10,000 meals to serve 2,000 clients in the metropolitan area, of whom 400 are in Bergen County and 100 in Passaic County. Most recently, the company added a ZoneKids program with gourmet meals packaged in lunch-friendly containers and aimed at overweight teenagers. Food is delivered via FedEx or UPS at a cost of $34.95 per day for meals and shipping.

Meanwhile, Jenny Direct, the home- delivery arm of Jenny Craig, has 8,000 clients nationwide, with 200 of those living in Bergen County. That program costs around $15 per day depending on menu selection and including delivery, also via FedEx or UPS.

"Housewives and busy executives are among our most popular clients - people who don't have time to prepare meals or count out calories," said Arthur Gunning, founder of ZoneChef.

Hensley, who plays the role of Emily Stewart on TV's "As the World Turns," didn't join the program to lose weight.

"I've never had a problem with my weight," said the actress, who does prepare meals for her children, Sophie May, 5½, and Spencer, 2½. "I just don't like to cook, and this is a way for me to eat balanced meals that give me the energy I need to get through a hectic day."

The Zone Diet is based on specific calorie count, whereby meals are calculated so that individuals get 40 percent of calories from carbohydrates, 30 percent from protein, and 30 percent from fat. Each meal is individualized, with food servings based on height, weight, activity level, personal goals, and medical conditions, Gunning said. A nutritionist evaluates the exact amount of food each client should be eating.

Jenny Direct food delivery is based on a biweekly or monthly plan that allows clients to have the food shipped to the office. The frozen meals arrive in Styrofoam coolers packed with dry ice. A menu spells out exactly what clients should eat at each meal. The diet plan, nutritionally balanced and based on the recommendations of the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, allows for three meals and two snacks each day.

"Our original philosophy was that clients come to our center for support in managing their weight and diet," said Doug Fisher, vice president of Jenny Direct. "But in the past few years we noticed that many people were too busy to come to us, so we started the home deliveries."

Jean Lewis of Somerset County didn't like battling highway traffic to get to the Jenny Craig Centers in her neighborhood.

"I heard Joy Behar talking on 'The View' about Jenny Direct and thought I would give it a try," said Lewis, who's lost 50 pounds since she joined the program six months ago. "It works really well. The food is good and is delivered in a nice big white box with nothing written on it, so neighbors don't know what's in it."

While 90 percent of Jenny Direct clients are women, more men are coming onboard, Fisher said.

The service includes a weekly phone consultation to discuss behavior modification, exercise, and any difficulties clients may be having with the diet. ZoneChef clients also have access to experts via phone, and each delivery includes literature on healthful eating.

To keep mealtimes interesting, ZoneChef maintains a 31-day cycle of various entr褳.

"The food is always different, so you never get bored," Hensley said. "I don't eat red meat, so they substitute fish and turkey in my meals. This morning I had turkey bacon and peach ricotta crepe for breakfast. It was excellent."

The most popular Zone foods include muffins (especially for breakfast), junior cheesecake, rack of lamb, and sweet potato pancakes. Clients are asked to rate new meals using a five-star system.

"Those that get top ratings are then permanently added to the rotation," Gunning said. "There's a lot of competition among the chefs to get onto that list."

For more information on ZoneChef call (800) 939-0663 or visit

For more information on Jenny Direct call (800) JENNY20 or visit
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