If someone was to ask me if I would rather have a nanny, a chef or a maid I would pick chef all the way! I just don’t enjoy cooking. I did when I was newly married with no kids and my husband and I used to try new recipes and drink wine and enjoy cooking and eating. Now my cooking experience looks more like 2 kids whining they are hungry; whatever I am making is not what they want and a toddler at my feet. This seems to make cooking more of an obstacle course of not letting anything burn while also not dropping anything on your crying toddler. At one point last year I had had enough. I was tired of meal planning and I was out of ideas that I would like but my children would also tolerate, so I signed up for a meal delivery plan.
How to choose your service:
There are tons of delivery services out there. Here are the things you need to consider when picking yours.
1. Do you actually want to cook anything?
Most companies provide all the ingredients and directions for how to make them but some just send full meals you can just reheat.
2. Do you have dietary restrictions?
Whether it is allergies or preference different companies appeal to different diets. I have seen Paleo, vegetarian, all organic and gluten free options out there so look for those.
3. How often do you want them delivered?
Most services have a few different options for how often you want meals delivered. For us, I chose 3 meals to be delivered every Wednesday so I knew 3 meals a week were decided for us and it made room in case we went out to eat or were invited to a friends house the other nights.
4. How much do you want to spend?
In my research, there was not a ton of difference in the weekly prices unless you are choosing one that offers all organic ingredients. That being said if you play it right most companies offer free boxes or great coupons to try out the meals. Also when I was ready to get back to cooking without a meal service I called to cancel and they gave me all sorts of discounts to try to get me to stay.
So how is the food?
Let me start by saying I am an INCREDIBLY picky eater! That being said most of the meals are comprised of a protein, a vegetable and some sort of grain. My family mostly eats that way normally so that wasn’t different for us. The thing I liked about the meals is that I thought it was a great way to try some new things that weren’t totally out of the box for us but something we may not normally attempt to make. I would say there were not any recipes I raved over but consistently everything was good and we ate it all. I only tried one service so that is also something that you could play with and find the one that your family likes the best!
How does it work?
After signing up the service I chose had an app that you downloaded. Once you have the app you can look at the 2 weeks ahead and pick which meals you would like. There are usually 4 choices so depending if you are doing 2 or 3 meals a week you can pick out of those. From the app you can also skip a week so if you will be out of town and you will not receive a delivery. The service I used always delivered on Wednesdays. The box comes to your door through UPS. The box includes ice packs, your meat, portioned out dry and wet ingredients and a recipe card. The recipe card goes step by step with pictures with how to make each meal!
Why did I stop using it?
I feel like I stopped for 2 reasons. One is it gets expensive for 3 meals a week for 4 people. I was paying $60 a month. That is much cheaper than eating out would be, but probably more than we would spend normally only because we sometimes have meals of cereal or quesadillas. The other reason would be that after about 5 months you will see the same meal or similar meals come across again. If you are more of an adventurous eater I do think you can go much longer without anything similar or repeats.
My final thoughts would be that it is a great short term option. If you just had a baby or moved or are just burnt out I think it is a great way to give yourself a break! I think long term it can be more expensive than what you would normally spend and also you could get sick of the same type of thing over and over. I do think that with all the free options out there what do you have to lose?!