Sometimes cooking a fresh, homemade meal is joy; other times simply thinking about what to make is a struggle. At best, meal delivery services were made for those days.Some meal kit deliveries offer just a few ingredients while others a meal that just needs to be popped in the oven and still more others fall somewhere in between. With so many options out there, various price points and different amounts of that dreaded packaging waste, which ones could be worth your time? Here’s our take.
If You Want Dinner Fast
Dinner is six minutes. That’s how Real Eats ($12.75-$15 per meal) competes with the likes of Blue Apron, who just introduced their own 30-minute meals. Clocking in at 24 minutes under Blue Apron’s easiest meals, Real Eats is a sous vide–like kit whose meals stay fresh in the refrigerator in their vacuum-sealed bags for seven days. To cook the meal, you simply place the bag in a pot of boiling water and set your timer. For the home chefs that love trying new techniques but lack the time and money to invest in them, companies like RealEats can offer the introduction.
If You Want to Throw a Party
Designed to take the stress out of hosting a dinner party for four or more you to pick from one of several menu options starting at $40, all designed with the idea the meals will require interaction between party guests whether by hand-rolling sushi rolls, crafting sliders or creating vermicelli bowls. You’ll then receive a box kit the day of, or day before, your party that includes recipes and prepped ingredients. All of Feastive’s ingredients are sourced from a range of specialty suppliers in Brooklyn and Manhattan, local farmers markets and Asian wholesalers for some of the more difficult-to-find exotic ingredients.
If You Want to Master Your Favorite Chef’s Recipes
Chef’D sees itself as a meal store, partnering with brands such as Good Housekeeping, chef Chris Santos and NYT Cooking. Meals, of which there are more than 300, are available to order either à la carte or through a subscription. Included with the recipe and ingredients is a short description of the origin of our meal and insight into the flavor profiles. The meal we tried was easy to prepare but did include many steps. Prices range from $24 and up for two servings.
If You Want to Feed Your Pooch
Pet owners can go online to The Farmer’s Dog, fill out a questionnaire about their dog including body type, age and even some personality traits (silliest, most stubborn, most normal) and receive a recommendation on the type and amount of food for their dog. They can then order a supply of said food to arrive on a regular basis. As each food is customized for the dog pricing varies.
If You’re Trying to Meet Specific Health Goals
Food Matters customers start with an introductory call or email where they answer questions about their health history, exercise routines, sleep routines and goals before discussing their food preferences. Food Matters chefs then work to create the menu that clients approve. For instance, if you have trouble falling asleep at night they might create meals with less grains in them, or they’ll create meals for specific health issues such as types of cancer, inflammation or a nursing mom. Everything is organic, all the animals are pasture raised and they don’t use gluten or refined sugar. Pricing varies based on how many meals you get and your specific health needs.
Brooklyn-based Provenance Meals makes eating healthy a snap with their pre-made meals. Choose from an organic prepared meal plan that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options or opt for one of their detox programs like a 3-day mini cleanse. Each of the pre-made meals and detoxes are created by chefs and wellness experts and the food is made from organic, unprocessed, local ingredients. We could eat their paleo muffins everyday. The pre-made meal plans are super customizable allowing you to choose from more than 20 options each week and pick how many breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or snack meals you want. Each meal comes with easy to follow instructions for heating up the food and there seemed to be less overall waste with the Provenance Meals kit we tried, with much of the packaging compostable.
If You Want Specific Ingredients
Meats: While not cheap at $129 per box, ButcherBox will take care of all your meat needs for the month. Each box contains enough meat for roughly 20 meals and you can choose between a box of meat (all grass-fed beef; beef and pork; beef and chicken; beef, pork and chicken; or chicken and pork) that’s delivered monthly to anywhere in the continental U.S. The curated cuts of meat in each box change month-to-month and customers can change the box type, delivery frequency or customize the box with different add-ons such as bacon, turkey or ground beef burgers and more.
Spices: Raw Spice Bar offers a quarterly subscription from $26, to freshly mixed spices for every kind of cook. Before ordering, you’ll take a quiz that allows Raw Spice Bar to tailor your kits so that their spices don’t join the island of lost spices in your pantry. You’ll receive six spice mixes every three months, plus recipes that include each spice and offer enough variety that you won’t need to cook the same thing twice. If you find a spice you can’t live without, you can buy it separately from your subscription while still trying new additions to your repertoire.
Veggies: Made from scratch daily, Baldor’s Urban Roots Veggie Side and Roasting Kits(from $7.99) will help you eat your vegetables. Choose from Chili Cilantro Cauliflower Rice, Tabouli Style Cauliflower Rice, and Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower Rice for a quick and easy side dish or Spanish Style Potatoes, Caramelized Cauliflower, Broccoli Cheddar Bites, Sugar & Spice Butternut, Spiced Sweet Potatoes and Hot Honey Carrot Fries that just need to be popped in the oven for 30 minutes.
Seafood: Finding delicious, sustainable seafood can be a task as murky as the depths of the ocean but Greensbury ($5.93 per meal and up) is making it a little clearer. They’ll ship a variety of wild-caught seafood, certified by the Marine stewardship and marked sustainable by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program right to your door. They also ship organic grass-fed beef and poultry.
If You’re Overwhelmed By All the Meal Kit Choices:
One of the most well-known of all the meal kits out there, Blue Apron ($8.74 per meal and up) has plenty of choices for those just dipping their feet into the meal kit arena or old meal kits hands in need of something simple and reliable, yet delicious. Choose from two-person or a family-plan and from two to four recipes per week. Inexperienced and/or short-on-time home chefs will love the easy to understand recipes and you can now order wine to pair with your creations.
Much like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh ($8.74 per meal and up) offers several different types of plans, including a veggie plan and the ability to choose the number of recipes you want each week. Most meals can be completed in 30 minutes or less and the packaging seems to be slowly improving to be easier to recycle.
Feature photo courtesy of Food Matters NYC.