Dinner Delivered to My Doorstep
If most moms were honest—including this one—dinnertime is a challenge! In an ideal world, fresh and healthy meals should adorn my dinner table, but too often I resort to the same “Taco Tuesday” or just toss meat on the grill.
You’ve probably noticed in the past year that the Internet is overrun with an influx of advertisements for home meal delivery services that offer fresh, pre-portioned food with step-by-step recipes delivered right to a customer’s doorstep. In an attempt to get out of my cooking rut, I decided to try different meal kit delivery services to see whether this service might revitalize the dinner hour at my house.
I contacted several companies, many of which said they do not have service in Kansas City yet. I narrowed my selections to six: Home Chef, Sun Basket, HelloFresh, Green Chef, PeachDish and Gobble, the newest one in Kansas City.
Similarities among the six companies are many:
- Ingredients are labeled, pre-portioned and extremely fresh (just as fresh or fresher than getting them from the grocery store).
- Recipes cards are inviting, unique (like Shrimp Tacos Diablo) and rather easy to follow with step-by-step pictorial instructions.
- The packaging of EVERY company is impressive and nearly 100 percent recyclable—it was like Christmas to see what we were going to eat each week.
- All packages arrived on my front door step with cold gel packs that kept the food cold for many hours, even on a hot day.
- Proteins are always packed separately.
- Meals come with really tasty sauces already prepared.
- The meal plans work like a subscription: How many meals do you want per week per person?
- The websites are easy to follow and make meal planning enjoyable.
- The box contains a full meal, not just the main dish, so you don’t have to scramble for sides.
- Most meals take about 30-60 minutes from start to finish, including prep.
- Depending on the type of shopper you are, the meal delivery service will not necessarily save you money.
- On average, adult portions are $10-13 per person per serving. The boxes are more about the experience and convenience of putting a fresh, unique meal on the table than about a cheap meal.
- The meal delivery space is becoming crowded, and all services offer deals on subscriptions.
- Cooking became fun again!
I also discovered unique things about each of the companies I sampled.
- Home Chef had some of the easiest meals to make for more of a novice cook. Home Chef also offered a variety of meal plans catering to two, four or six people with straightforward pricing. The service allows you to add extras like fruit smoothies or a salad. We tried their Thai Crunch Chicken Salad, and it was delicious plus required only a bit of assembling.
- Sun Basket had each meal in a labeled brown bag inside the box. This was really convenient because I could just grab the bag from the fridge, open it and start cooking. Other companies had all of the ingredients, although nicely labeled, in the same box for the two to three meals ordered, which required a bit of sorting. Sun Basket also uses only organic, non-GMO ingredients, plus their packaging is 100 percent compostable.
- HelloFresh also had each of its meals in a labeled brown bag for easy storage and assembly. HelloFresh offers vegetarian plans, and most of the items like broccoli and cauliflower come precut. They have three different plans from which to choose: Classic, Veggie or Family. Each is geared toward two people or four people, your choice. Have a bigger family? Then you just order accordingly. You can pause your delivery at any time.
- All the meal delivery services had healthy recipes, but if you are a vegetarian or vegan, GreenChef seems the best choice. For example, one night we had sweet potato falafel with a kale salad with feta, walnuts and dates. My older daughter and I loved the meal, but it was lacking the beef for my teenage son. Oh, and if you try GreenChef, be sure to select kale and chard gratin—it was my favorite dish of the entire month of meal reviews!
- PeachDish has a user-friendly website with prices, preparation time and basic ingredients right on the home page. I also liked how at the top of the page are four weeks of meals so you can plan ahead. With the recipes, PeachDish also provided a weekly list of farmers around the nation who supplied the week’s fresh ingredients. We tried the beef and broccoli stir-fry…wow, an impressive and delicious one-pan meal!
- The newest meal delivery service to Kansas City is Gobble, which specializes in faster gourmet meals with easy three-step recipes. The meals are designed to be one-pan meals for easy prep and easy cleanup. My girls thought the mushroom ravioli was the best dish of the month. Plus, I was waiting for one of the companies to stand out in a unique way, and Gobble did it—adding fresh cookie dough to the box!
Choose a meal delivery service if
- You are trying to eat healthier.
- You like to cook but hate to meal plan or grocery shop.
- You want to learn new recipes and become a better cook.
- Time is as important to you as money.
- You want to eat more at home.
- You have a busy week coming up. Because you can pause most subscriptions, you can cater the meals to your schedule.
If you want to eat well and at your own dinner table, meal subscription companies might be a good option for you. Don’t plan on saving money but certainly plan to save time by having the grocery shopping done for you. I feel like a refreshed cook, and my family certainly has enjoyed my getting out of the same-old, same-old meal rut. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the six companies I tried. Having dinner delivered to your doorstep is just a few clicks away.
Although the meal kits were fun, I have to say that local meal-prep places like Dream Dinners in Overland Park are easier and cheaper. In just about two hours, I can make nearly a whole month’s of meals for my family at Dream Dinners. They not only have the ingredients perfectly prepped—no washing, chopping, or peeling—but they also take care of the mess. Then I get to go home and stock my freezer with a ton of meals for the month averaging around $6.00 per person per serving. It is certainly more convenient to take out a prepared freezer meal and cook it, allowing me more time with my family!
Susan Gimotty is a busy mom of four teenagers in Overland Park.