Stumble in the front door at 8pm after a long day at work and the last thing anyone wants 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 10 companies have our backs covered. From pre-packed dinner boxes delivered to your front door to meticulously organized meal plans for the entire week, there's something here to make healthy cooking easier for everyone. (Plus, there are some pretty killer holiday gift ideas — and special discounts! — hiding in here, too!)
Dinner in a Box
Blue Apron Everyone should be able to enjoy delicious, interesting, home-cooked meals, right? Blue Apron is all about providing a great cooking experience for its users. Once per week, you’ll get a delivery including all the ingredients you need to make three meals (serving two people each). This week, they’re featuring chicken chilaquiles, steak salad with chicory and curried chickpeas, and salmon cakes with beet salad. The only things they assume subscribers have are olive oil, salt, and pepper. Every recipe features a new special ingredient (tatsoi, anyone?) to broaden your culinary palette, too. Plus, they offer a meat and fish box or a vegetarian box. Delivery available from Maine to Florida, and west to the Mississippi river. Cost: $59.94 per week for three meals that each serve two people.
Plated Who wouldn’t want a chef-designed meal on the dinner table a few times a week? With Plated, you get just that, but in your own home (and, well, you get to prepare it yourself). It’s pretty simple: You choose the meals you want in a given week, order, and the ingredients for those meals show up at your doorstep the next week. Each week Plated hosts a new chef who’s worked anywhere from The White House to Food and Wine Magazine. This week, they have five dishes ranging from meatloaf burgers with garlic mashed potatoes to berbere spiced salmon with steamed potatoes and winter greens. Delivery available from Boston to DC and in major Midwest cities, including the Chicago (and the rest of Illinois), Indiana, Michigan, and major cities including St. Louis, and Cleveland Cost: $10-$15 per plate, depending on package chosen.
Sweet Roots NYC In NYC and looking for an easier way to plan, shop for, and cook organic meals at home? Marisa from Sweet Roots NYC may have the answer. She works with her clients one-on-one to create tailored weekly meal plans that take into account your taste preferences, health goals, and how comfortable you are wielding a knife. Once you OK the week’s plan, her 10-person team does all the work to deliver the ingredients (pre-measured, sometimes pre-chopped, with recipes) right to your door. They want to take the stress out of cooking without taking away the joy and satisfaction of preparing a meal on your own. Delivery available in New York City (Manhattan and Brooklyn) for $10. Cost: Plans from $75/person per week. Mention this article to get 10% off a three-meal dinner package.
Healthy Meals NY Here’s one for the vegans out there. With this service, you can get pre-cooked healthy, vegan meals delivered to your door (in NYC) to save time in the kitchen. For the price, you get menu planning, organic grocery and produce items, shopping and cooking, storage containers, and delivery. What might be on the menu? Creamy corn soup, lentil burgers with tzatziki, and pistachio pear couscous salad have all made appearances in the past. Delivery available in New York City. Cost: Plans from $350/person per week.
Hello Fresh This one’s all about the healthier options. Every week you’ll have a box with ingredients for three meals delivered to your door and packed with fresh produce and protein. Boxes hold enough to serve two, four, or six people — but the recipes (like duck à l’orange salad) take no more than 30 minutes to prepare, regardless of how big the crowd is! Not in the US? Hello Fresh has quite the international vibe. The company started in Germany in 2011, and quickly expanded to France, the UK, the Netherlands, and Australia! Delivery available from Maine to Miami, and west to Chicago. Cost: Boxes available from $59/week.
Luke’s Local San Franciscans, we are officially jealous. Luke’s Local is reinventing ready-to-eat meals. Every week, they deliver boxes that are some sort of hybrid between a CSA (community supported agriculture) program, personal catering, and an artisan food shop. All the meals are prepared by local chefs, all the produce comes from local farms, and the artisan items are all locally sourced (like bread or granola for snacking!). The best part? You get to pick which items go in that box for every order. For those looking to nosh in the office, they also offer an Office Box filled with fresh, healthy snacks including coffee, granola, nuts, yogurt, and burritos. Delivery available in San Francisco, East Bay, and Marin for $5–$8; pickup also available at other locations in San Francisco area. Cost: Items range from $2.79 (breakfast pastry) to $11.99 (meal with meat or fish).
Cook Smarts This free meal plan newsletter is perfect for those who love cooking at home but don’t love all the time it takes to actually plan out those weekly menus. Founder Jess Dang started Cook Smarts as a way to help people get back in the kitchen. But it’s about more than just the free meal plans: Jess also offers cooking lessons (in the Bay Area of California) and runs the Cook Smarts blog, which offers some pretty killer cooking tips and instructional videos. Cost: Free.
Plan to Eat This simple desktop app was born out of a desire to eat real, healthy, delicious food, prepared at home, without all the stress of walking in from work at 5pm and trying to throw something together before the family (or just you) gets cranky. Basically, the program allows you to store all your favorite recipes, drag-and-drop them onto the day you want to eat them, and get an easy shopping list to print out for easier shopping. Still not impressed? The web app is also mobile-ready, so you can view your shopping list on your phone while out and about. Plus, it also keeps track of all of your “pantry items” when you check them off your shopping list. Cost: $4.95/month; $39/year.
Bits and Pieces
Turntable Kitchen Pairings Box Okay, so you’ve found the time to get in the kitchen and cook… but now it’s time to make it more fun. Kasey and Matthew of the popular food and music blog Turntable Kitchen have the solution for you: a monthly gift box filled with three killer recipes, a mix tape (in both vinyl and digital form), and a few special key ingredients. Turn on the record player and fire up the stove for a perfectly paired music-and-cooking experience. Cost: $25/month (plus tax).
Hungry Globetrotter Here’s one great way to spice up what’s going on in the kitchen. With this monthly gourmet subscription box service, you can enjoy dishes from around the world without actually having to trek to the other side of the globe. Hungry Globetrotter says it best: “Life is too short for food to be boring, and the world is too big for you to not experience it.” Cost: Boxes from $34.95/month.
Have another company you think is killing it at promoting healthy living and cooking? Tell us about it in the comments below, or tweet the author @ksmorin, and we’ll check it out for future articles!