Without that Mom voice in our ears prompting us to ”eat those veggies,” many Americans have slacked off on their intake to the point where only 13% consume servings of vegetables recommended by federal dietary guidelines and only a mere quarter get the suggested servings of fruit. But wait. Meal kit delivery services are coming to the rescue all over the country with a host of ways to make the whole veggie issue — and mealtime in general — deliciously easier.
By reinventing the dinner ritual in a very good way, singles and working couples who care about eating nutritious home-cooking are flocking to the concept of freshly prepped meals-in-a-box and the market is crowding up with new choices. As of this writing, national delivery services include Blue Apron, Chef’D, Green Chef, HelloFresh Home Chef, PeachDish, Plated, Purple Carrot, Takeout Kit and Terra’s Kitchen.
Each service delivers fresh ingredients — generally of a higher quality than you may find at local super markets — offering a variety of dishes and easy-to-read recipes. Frequently the instructions simplify preparations for meals you may have otherwise found too complicated.
Here’s just a sampling of what to expect when you cook from a kit.
These dishes have several steps to the recipes and preparation time averages 30 to 45 minutes. Boxes arrive with the proteins over ice and the remaining ingredients, or “knick knacks” as they call them, packed in individual paper bags. Also included is a full-color information sheet about an ingredient, such as background on the bay leaf.
Blue Apron also offers a wine club in conjunction with the meals — so they aren’t just making pairing suggestions — now you can actually have them send you wines that work with the meals and each wine comes with a card full of tasting notes and detailed info about the wine.
Price: for 2 people (three meals a week), $59.94 or Family Plan (serves 4) 2 meals per week, $69.92
The newest player in the game is the only, for the moment, USDA-certified organic meal kit delivery company. The service offers Paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian, omnivore, carnivore and most recently — vegan — options. Everything is organic.
Recipes are complex but things come ready-made so most of the work is in the chopping, sautéing and finishing. All in all, a nice choice if you are seeking 100% organic meals.
Price: The Omnivore package includes three meals (veggie, meat and seafood) and starts at $11.99 per person, per meal; shipping is $9 per box.
Recipes for HelloFresh’s dishes seem to have slightly fewer steps than other clubs. They do a nice job of juggling the right amount of flavor and complexity with the busy-life factor. The company also partners with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Portions are adult-appropriate.
Price: A classic box with 3 meals for 2 people is $69 per box and the same size in the veggie box is $59.
Each meal includes a main, side and vegetable to be combined in creative simplicity such as in the chopped celery salad with shaved parmesan, an easy, fresh delightful way to make something green into something delicious in less than three minutes. Ingredients for each dish come in individual organza bags.
Price: starts at $12.50 per person per meal. Customers can subscribe or order week by week.
Takeout Kit deliveries can be stored in your pantry until you are ready to use them; nothing perishable is shipped (which means very little packaging waste). Founder Rachael Lake started the company as a way to address the issue of what she refers to as meal kit anxiety — the stress that comes from not being able to cook your meal kits before ingredients expire.
Price: Kits start at $30 a month for 1 box or $55 a month for 2 boxes.
This service ships meals in something akin to a plastic miniature refrigerator (they call it a vessel). Your box arrives, you pop the “locks,” open the door to the box and slide out your different ingredients. After unloading, lock the box back up, peel off the shipping sticker which reveals the return sticker beneath and the shipper picks it up the next day.
Veggies and seasonings are packaged and that may be a negative for the person who loves the art of preparation. Although Terra might be too easy, for busy singles or couples this is a service that delivers a fresh, home cooked meal that you assemble. They also make wine pairing suggestions.
Price: Meals start at $9.99 per person.
For more details about meal kit delivery services, visit these websites.
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