There is no sincerer love than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw
The most unsexy, onerous, absurdly challenging task I face on a daily basis is figuring out how to put food in my body. This isn’t college — grilled cheese every night isn’t fine. This isn’t elementary school — the government doesn’t make sure my lunch hits all the big food groups. It’s ridiculous how much time and effort and planning goes into the one chore I really can’t skip.
My palate is what I’ll call "suburban Methodist fundraising dinner" — the recipes I know by heart are casseroles; the greenery I’m familiar with is iceberg lettuce. And because my economic sense was honed in a household with four constantly ravenous athletes, my usual strategy for keeping myself alive for another week relies on the simple math of one $2 box of ziti plus one $2 jar of spaghetti sauce equals eight meals. I recently poured spoiled milk onto a pot full of macaroni, and instead of tossing the whole thing, I spent 10 minutes rinsing the noodles off with my bare hands. Waste not, want not, and only buy the cheap stuff.
I’m eating, but I’m not deluded enough to think I’m eating well. It’s a problem most working people I know struggle with. How do you possibly come up with the many hours per week it takes to plan, shop for, and execute meals that are actually good for you? In recent years, meal-subscription services have been offered up as a new solution for this outwardly unimpressive problem. So I decided to embark on a six-week mission to find the one service that rules them all.
All of these services share common features: they send you every single ingredient (down to pinches of chili flakes and one-ounce bottles of wine) that you need to make a week’s worth of delicious (!), home-cooked (!), interesting (!?) meals. Most of them pride themselves on selecting produce that’s some combination of ethically sourced, organic, GMO-free, and seasonal. And all these services are quite blatantly marketed toward the young professional — people with enough money to eat right (the cheapest service I tried was $9.99 per serving) but not enough free time to plan their own meals (you may need 40 minutes to cook some of these recipes, but zero minutes to plan or shop).
Even before I got my first meal, I already had a few semi-serious moral quibbles with these services. They ranged from a silly disdain for the phrase "mise en place," to a more political discomfort with excessive waste, conspicuous convenience (a term I just made up), and false accessibility (these are luxury products after all, disguised as practical solutions). What services like these conveyed to me was that the future is for people who simultaneously have their shit together, have expendable incomes, and yet don’t want to do anything for themselves.
On a purely personal level, I thought that I would resent the schedule these services demanded. I thought I would find the stricture of making three decent meals per week for myself a horrendous burden. Honestly, it was. Nevertheless, I wanted to give the idea a chance — maybe the cost would justify itself somehow, with an intangible sense of accomplishment or with a steep decrease in the regularity with which I throw out entire boxes of rotten, untouched spinach from my fridge.
I chose five services in all: first, the big three — Blue Apron, Plated, and Hello Fresh — all of which serve a pretty standard mix of classic American, Americanized Asian, Americanized Mexican, and Americanized Italian food, and have valuations in excess of $500 million. For variety, I also signed up for PeachDish, a small, Southern food-specific service, and Purple Carrot, a fairly new vegan service. All five are available pretty close to anywhere in the United States.
These five are really just a small sampling of the wealth of options out there — you can order boxes tailored to your personal nutritional deficits, boxes specifically for new moms, boxes that comply with a paleo diet, and newly, boxes of food based around recipes from The New York Times Cooking website. (Congrats on the creative revenue plan, NYT!)
Over the course of six weeks I evaluated these services on quality, presentation, clarity of instructions, skills I learned, loveliness of packaging, and absurdity of price. In the final category they were mostly tied. At the end of the six weeks I couldn’t believe I had to go back to the shabby life I had been living before...
If I were going to convert to a meal-subscription lifestyle, the best option would probably be Hello Fresh. It struck the best balance between teaching me new skills and not taking up my entire night; the food was reliably edible, and I appreciate gimmickless chicken. I’m not going to come down too firmly on that, because it’s purely hypothetical. I’m not going to convert to a meal-subscription lifestyle. Life is expensive, and we have to pick our luxuries.
I love grocery shopping, and missed it a lot over the six weeks I didn’t have to do it. Counterintuitively, I do not find it challenging to find time to go to the store. I hate cooking, but I love shopping. Strolling up and down the aisles of an enormous, pristine grocery store triggers my suburbia sense, and makes me believe very briefly that I am not living in a gross city that wants to spit me out.
I can see why people use these services — the excessive packaging waste is certainly counteracted a bit by the fact that there is no produce waste to speak of. I’m not going to buy and genuinely use a whole bunch of thyme or even an entire tomato, unless someone tells me when and how. I’m not put-together enough to keep my cooking wine separate from my this-Tuesday-sucked wine. If you feel like you’ll never know exactly how much chard to buy if you want it to equal three cups when chopped, a meal service could be incredibly useful to you.
And of course, I would never devalue the endorphins that come with logging small accomplishments. Even though I was painting by numbers, the cooking I did during this experiment gave me an enormous sense of pride. It felt like doing the "right" thing — cooking real dinners, with nutritional value and greens and a protein and complex spice medleys. Doing something with your hands other than slapping a keyboard all day long has got to be the key to happiness. That one factor nearly convinced me that the cost and silliness of subscription services is worth it.
Source: Kaitlyn Tiffany, Excerpt from Dinner is Shipped, The Verge, May 25, 2016.
Meal kits promised to make cooking easy enough that people would actually do it. But Americans don’t want to cook and never really have.
Stumble in the front door at 8 p.m. after a long day at work, and the last thing you want to do is spend an hour making a mess in the kitchen. In a perfect world, dinner would always be pre-planned and pre-prepped, and cooking and eating it would cure the day's stress, not cause it. Luckily, these 13 companies have our backs. From pre-packed dinner boxes delivered to your front door, to perfectly portioned and cut ingredient boxes that minimize prep time, there's something here to make healthy dining easier for everyone.
The basic idea behind Blue Apron—instead of schlepping to the grocery store, you get a box with portioned-out ingredients and some cooking instructions—has fueled a cottage industry of meal-kit startups. The appeal has been obvious: If you really enjoy cooking but can’t spare the time to go grocery shopping for fresh ingredients, subscribing to Blue Apron makes a lot of sense. The meal kit company now delivers about 8 million kits to U.S. homes every month.
Amazon breathing down your neck wouldn't make life easier. But if Blue Apron is already struggling to acquire loyal, revenue-generating consumers at reasonable costs, Amazon's entry into the grocery business shouldn't be the firm's most dire concern.
Blue Apron has the largest share of sales among U.S. meal kit companies, but individual consumers are spending more money with its competitors, according to new data from Second Measure, a company that analyzes billions of anonymized debit and credit card purchases.
Options range from meal kits to dishes prepared by well-known chefs, no ‘cooking’ required.
In the span of a few short years, more than 100 companies have jumped into the meal kit game. Millions of cardboard boxes arrive on urban and rural doorsteps every month, holding everything one needs to cook dinner, down to the rice wine vinegar and panko.
Of course it would be easier to eat your vegetables (and other healthy treats) if someone else cooked them for you and then delivered them right to your doorstop. Several food delivery services now make it more convenient than ever to eat clean by delivering a variety of nutrient dense meals that actually taste pretty good.
From Blue Apron to Plated, the definitive ranking of meals delivered in boxes.
For busy people who want to eat clean on weekdays without having to cook, Methodology puts healthy eating on auto-pilot
22 Days Nutrition products inspire through taste, attitude, and a global conscience. The belief is that foods made of the best ingredients should satisfy not only the body, but also the spirit. We believe that the right attitude and approach to healthy living can positively affect the world.
Who knew that diet food could look like this? At bistroMD, we reject the idea that healthy food must be bland and boring. We are passionate about delivering healthy and delicious entrees that are perfectly suited for weight loss. BistroMD diet delivery is weight loss without the sacrifice.
Get farm-fresh ingredients and delicious recipes delivered weekly, right to your door.
We decided to roll up our sleeves, sharpen our knives, and do something about it. That’s why Daily Harvest delivers real, unprocessed, unrefined foods in the most convenient format possible: frozen.
Diet-to-Go is a meal delivery company focused on making healthy eating both easy and affordable. Our goal is to change perceptions of what it means to eat healthy and help our customers achieve and maintain a healthy weight for life. We want to help people establish a common sense approach to healthy eating, an approach that can be sustained so that making smart food choices becomes a way of life.
DoorDash enables delivery in areas where it was not available. Our mission is to empower small business owners to offer delivery in an affordable and convenient way. We are achieving this mission first by enabling restaurant food delivery.
Browse food delivery and takeout restaurants menus, read reviews, and enjoy coupons and discounts. You can choose a restaurant according to a cuisine you like, such as Pizza, Chinese food, Thai food, Indian, and even Mexican food, by their distance from you, rating or by reviews left by other customers.
Developed by chefs with your well-being in mind, we pack our meals with essential nutrients: full of protein and fibre, low in fat, carbs and calories. We say no to artificial additives, and the sugar in our meals comes from natural sources only.
Factor 75 delivers chef-crafted, nutritionist designed meals to your home, office or hotel.
Forks Over Knives empowers people to live healthier lives by changing the way the world understands nutrition. Forks Over Knives was launched in 2011 as a feature documentary.
Every Freshly meal saves you at least an hour that you would've spent shopping, cooking and cleaning. Spend more time doing what you love, with people you love.
At your doorstep, when you want it.
You choose the delivery day.
No commitments ever. Skip weeks when you want to.
Food is carefully packed in a refrigerated container;
no need to be home when it arrives.
Order delivery food online from nearby restaurants.
We deliver delicious recipes and the exact ingredients to your door every week.
Home Chef is a meal delivery service supplying weekly deliveries of fresh, perfectly portioned ingredients and chef-designed recipes.
Our mission is to unleash the flavor of vegetables, bring them to the center of your plate, and make them craveable.
You're wanting to eat better, right? If you desire to eat closer to a plant-based diet, this is a good step in that direction.
Meals arrive chilled so everything stays fresh. Heat in your oven or microwave and eat on your own schedule.
Eat perfectly without thinking about it, No more grocery shopping, preparing food or cooking, Plans are flexible to accommodate dietary preferences, Skip a day or cancel at any time, All plans can be customized to weekdays only or 7 days a week.
An Atlanta-based start-up, PeachDish is a meal-kit subscription service that makes it easy for home cooks to reconnect with their kitchens. PeachDish ships direct to your door the best the south has to offer: fresh, healthy, delicious ingredients pre-portioned to make assembling a unique, gourmet recipe fun and easy.
Plated delivers fresh, pre-portioned ingredients to your door so that you can relax and enjoy the cooking experience.
At Purple Carrot we empower you to cook
delicious plant-based meals that are good for you and good for the planet.
We believe that what you put into your body forms the building blocks for the rest of your life and affects your relationships, career, happiness, and ability to create. We believe in fresh meals, prepared with loving hands using the healthiest, most hydrating and nourishing ingredients possible.
Seamless is simply the easiest way to order food for delivery or takeout. Whatever you’re in the mood for, wherever you’re in the mood for it, you’ve got it. No menus, no phone calls, no repeating yourself.
Organic produce, clean ingredients, and delicious recipes delivered weekly.
Paleo, Lean & Clean, Gluten-Free, Vegan, and more
Vegin’ Out, based in Los Angeles, offers Southern California customers a healthy dining option that is more affordable and convenient than takeout, with all the environmental and wellness benefits of a plant-based diet. Vegin’ Out provides a week’s worth of freshly prepared, healthy, delicious vegan meals, delivered to its customers’ homes or offices. Each Vegin’ Out dish is low fat, cholesterol free, trans-fat free, dairy free, cruelty free, and prepared with all the organic and locally grown ingredients as possible.