Meal prep and delivery makes dinner easier

. February 27, 2017.

Feeding your family is one of the most important things parents do, and sitting at the dinner table is a habit worth keeping. Studies have shown that families who are able to eat dinner together at home produce healthier kids with better grades, who are less likely to use drugs and experience other social difficulties. But constraints of time, budget, allergies, and preferences make it even tougher on busy parents. Takeout and fast food end up on the menu more often than you’d like, as do processed foods. Meal prep kits and delivery services aim to streamline the process and help you get a hot dinner on the table with as little hassle as possible. We tried some of the services to give you the lowdown.

If one of your goals for this year is to gather around the dinner table and enjoy a family meal, these meal services can make it easier in today’s busy world. Dinner is served!

Keep it local

First on the list is the local Super Suppers, a “take and bake studio kitchen” in Perrysburg. What started as a franchise is now entirely independent and locally-owned by Cassie Egli, who wanted to help people save time and money, while getting healthy meals on the table. Super Suppers warm and comfortable kitchen is available for walk-ins or by appointment, so that you can prep your own meals using their recipes and ingredients. All are freezable and portioned for three or six (USDA portions are smaller than typical restaurant portions). Price per serving for Super Suppers was less than $5…about $4.83 for what we made. We prepped two meals for ourselves, a cranberry stuffed pork roast and chicken marsala. The process was speedy and fun, the ingredients good, and the finished meals, cooked later at home, were tasty, if not fancy. Their menus are more family-friendly than the delivery services we tried, and meals take significantly less time to put together at home. You also avoid a lot of the mess by prepping in their kitchen. Saturdays are family days, when kids are welcome to come help you prep. You can also choose to have someone else prep your meals. Egli says most of her customers order ahead and pick up meals at the store, but she also offers delivery. “You can save twenty to thirty hours per month using us three times a week. Spend it with your child catching up on homework or just seeing how their day was. We are real food fast, not fast food.”

Dinner on your doorstep

Another way to get a healthy dinner on the table fast is
to have it delivered. Services like Door to Door
Organics deliver “fresh organic produce… milk and dairy foods, humanely raised meats and chicken, sustainable fish and seafood and more local, natural foods right
to your doorstep.” They deliver to the Toledo area on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays, and you’ll need to sign up for a box of fruit, veggies, or both, for a minimum of $25. For a family of four, they suggest a small box of fruits and vegetables for $35 to use throughout the week. You can set preferences ahead of time, and substitute fruits and veggies to customize your box. It is a subscription, however, not a grocery delivery service. In addition to your regular box, you can add an impressive array of grocery items. Prices and quality are significantly higher than at your neighborhood grocery, more in line with specialty grocery stores.

When we tried it out, the delivery service was reliable, items were well-chosen and of good quality, and customer service was excellent and quick to resolve issues (one bad apple led to a speedy refund and extra apples in the next delivery). The subscription box model may encourage you to try some new things, and the website offers recipes and meal ideas.

Door to Door Organics | 877-711-3636

Blue Apron is a subscription service that delivers all of the fresh ingredients to create your own meal at home. Like competitors Hello Fresh and Plated, Blue Apron gives you a choice of meals and recipe cards. Delivery is on Fridays, and you can choose three meals with two servings each for just under $60, or two meals with four servings for $70, with shipping included. You can avoid certain proteins and choose between limited weekly menus. We tried two family meals (bucatini bolognese with pecorino and Brussels sprouts and pan-seared cod with lemon sauce and fall vegetables) and found the ingredients well-packed and the meals restaurant-quality, as advertised. They include exactly what you need to make your meals, pre-measured and clearly labeled. So you may receive one egg in a tiny carton, or two tablespoons of rice flour. Meals took a solid 30-60 minutes to put together, which didn’t save us time, but the planning and prep was a convenience. We tried some new things, gained some new skills, and enjoyed the results. If your kids are adventurous eaters, Blue Apron may be a great fit. If your toddler only wants chicken nuggets, look elsewhere, or get yourself the two-person plan. Meals work out to $8.74 per serving, and those servings are generous.

Blue Apron | 646-891-4349