Meals In A Box

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Low Prep, No Schlep

By Debra Goldie Jones

Ding-dong! Dinner’s here, with ready-to-cook meals delivered to your door.

The doorbell is the new dinner bell, announcing the arrival of “meal kits” that make cooking fast, flavorful and fun. This is definitely not your mother’s grocery delivery — no Rice-A-Roni or cream of mushroom soup.

These complete kits include fresh meats, fish, or chicken; crisp produce; fragrant herbs; and gourmet grains. In other words, everything you need to make an amazing meal is delivered to your doorstep ready to whip-up in under an hour.

I thought I was the only one who hated supermarkets. But, according to a Nielsen survey, 15 percent of shoppers (mostly men) are already bypassing the big-box stores, buying groceries online.

Meal kit providers take it one step further: They gather all the items for specific recipes in precise servings and deliver them directly to your front door.

Many people want to eat well, but are sometimes reluctant to go out to a restaurant because it’s too crowded, too expensive, or too time-consuming. Some seniors may have downsized, and no longer keep a complete kitchen and pantry. But they still like to cook a nice meal, or occasionally entertain at home. These kits are a near-perfect option.

You can order week-to-week — generally three meals — or choose a subscription for three meals every week. Some offer a single meal kit in local grocery stores. All three we tried exceeded expectations in ease of preparation, convenience, and taste.

Hello Fresh

I picked up a kit for Italian meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted green beans at Sprouts. Inside was everything I needed — from safely sealed ground beef to shallots and a single slice of bread. In 30 minutes, I was able to serve two large dinners. The results were just right for two people hungry for homemade.

$19.99 for 1 dinner kit; feeds 2-3 people (about $10.00 per meal)

www.hellofresh.com

Pangea Modern Mediterranean Meals

Pangea sends everything you need, right down to the salt-and-pepper shakers. What I loved about this science-based nutritional program, developed by two doctors, was the quick lunch you make while fixing dinner. Tangy, tender chicken with spinach, feta, and raisin quinoa was a fine, filling dinner. Then you roll some leftover quinoa into a radicchio salad with balsamic vinaigrette for tomorrow’s luscious-looking lunch. Mustard-basted walnut-crusted salmon featured glazed apples, which got tossed into the next day’s yummy arugula and feta salad.

$150.00 for 3 dinner + lunch kits; feeds 2 people (about $12.50 per meal)

www.pangeanutrition.com/sign-up/

Blue Apron

I ordered shrimp and gnocchi, and picked two vegetarian dishes for later in the week. Aromatic coconut and wanton noodles were delicately delicious. I finally learned how to cut lemongrass! Summer vegetable tartines of corn and peppers were the most memorable items I tasted.

$60.00 for 3 dinner kits; feeds 2 people (about $10.00 per meal)

www.blueapron.com

Cooking is not an exact science. You may find an instruction you don’t understand (like “boil quinoa until germ spirals out of grain”). Overall, for people who enjoy eating healthy and heartily, want to use or learn a few basic cooking skills, and like to try new things, this may be the perfect meal ticket.

Bon appétit!

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