I’m someone who LOVES good food. As my own personal foodie bible states, “We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly.”
But when it comes to cooking for my family and myself, you’d never know I had a gourmet bone in my body. Between work, school, kids, yoga and everything in between, finding the time to cook a tasty meal is a luxury that I rarely get.
Which is why I have fallen head over heels for meal kits that I can take from the kitchen to the dinner table in 30 minutes. Yes, in the time it would take me to drive to the grocery store and back, I’ve already got tasty food on the plate.
There are a lot of different companies that offer these services, but here are my 3 favorites.
1. Home Chef
Home Chef is all about simple, delicious food that you can cook in around 30 minutes. The service lets you choose from 11 new recipes every week and there’s a good variety of meals - meat, poultry, fish and vegetarian.
Ingredients are fresh, high quality, and boxes are packed to maintain that freshness (my first box was delivered while I was holed up indoors during a snowstorm. The box was sitting on my stoop for almost 11 hours before I even realized it had been delivered - the insulated box kept everything inside perfectly fresh).
The recipes were so simple that I was able to get the kids involved, which made them enjoy the Parmesan Crusted Cod even more.
My biggest food-gripe about my busy schedule is that when I do have the time to cook, I often cook the same things. By the end of a busy day my energy can be too depleted to browse for new recipes or get creative in the kitchen.
But now, I’ve saved all of Home Chef’s recipe cards and repeat a lot of the crowd favorites, sometimes adding my own twist and other times just sticking to the recipe as is.
And the nice thing about this service is that it’s easy to cancel any time or skip a few weeks.
2. Hello Fresh
Hello Fresh is another service that came highly recommended, and which doesn’t take too long to prepare. The weekly menu featured on the site also lets you know exactly how long it will take to cook each meal (usually 30-35 minutes), which is super helpful when you’re planning out your week.
I was also really impressed by their customer service. One time they sent the wrong type of lettuce, and they immediately refunded my money.
The recipes were easy to follow and the food was that classic comfort food that is not too fussy and always comes out tasting great. And the portions were nice too - I was even able to save some food to bring to work the next day.
My favorite recipes were the ones which seemed really simple (the apricot pork chops were a favorite), but then they’ll throw in an unexpected ingredient or spice and it’ll transform the dish into something unexpected.
If 30 minutes in the kitchen still seems like too much of a time commitment, then Freshly would be your best bet. I’d classify the service - which delivers healthy, chef prepared meals, fresh to your door - as a healthier (and cheaper) alternative to takeout.
I was a bit skeptical about this style of meal delivery, especially because I grew up eating a lot of Lean Cuisine-type frozen dinners in front of the television and resented my mom a bit for not being the amazing home cook that my friend’s mothers were.
But for a meal that’s ready in under 2 minutes, I was very surprised by how good it tasted (the three bean chili especially!).
I do enjoy cooking and knowing exactly what’s going into my food, so I don’t think this is a service I would use consistently. But for those nights when you don’t want to deal with cooking or cleanup, Freshly is a great option.