One of the biggest challenges for modern Boston families is the prepping and cooking of family meals, primarily dinner. With two working parents who often will not get home until 6:00 PM, the task to prepare, cook, and clean up after a meal can seem daunting.
FACT: Americans spend an average of 37 minutes per day on meal prep and cooking, and this doesn't even include the grocery shopping!
Unless you are ordering unhealthy takeout or microwaving a tasteless frozen dinner, this can often put dinnertime close to 7:00 PM and with most young kids having an 8:00 bedtime, this really puts on that time pressure. Luckily, meal prep services have come a long way over the past ten years in the United States. With meal kits or even prepared food delivery services, Boston families can save time and still eat healthy. Continue reading to see the evolution of these life-changing healthy meal delivery services.
1. Limited Options
As few as ten years ago, our meal prep options were very limited. You could either do it yourself ahead of time, get already prepared foods at the grocery store, or foot the hefty bill and hire a personal chef. Unless you were a master planner who could sit down once per week during their spare time (if you have any) and plan a menu, doing it yourself was quite the challenge. On the plus side, you knew exactly what was going into your meals. However, this would potentially have taken a few hours out of your weekend and have caused you more stress. Because of this, you could've turned to grocery store prepared foods. Pre-chopped vegetables would save you a lot of time, but you'd pay an average of double the cost of whole vegetables. Kale has a mark-up of 317% . Yikes!
Lastly, you could've resorted to a personal chef. This highly convenient option guaranteed you would not shop for, prepare, cook, or even clean up after your meals. Like all services though, you still would have to pay both the salary of the chef and the cost of ingredients. If you were on a tight budget, this would not be an option for you.
2. Meal Kits
It seems like meal kits became popular overnight, blossoming onto the scene and into the homes of upwards of 21% of Americans. While they started in Europe in 2007, they did not hit the United States until 2012. Now there are upwards of 100-150 meal kit companies! Meal kits very rapidly became the best friend of working parents everywhere. With most meal kit companies, you receive a recipe of your choice with all the ingredients and seasonings you will need carefully portioned to provide the right amount of servings needed for your family. The best part is it is all delivered right to your door!
Most recipes take 30 minutes or less and depending on the company you use, are generally very healthy options. Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are both companies who deliver fresh, healthy meal kit subscriptions. Plan your orders for the month and don't worry about it again until the next month. If you are wanting a non-committal style of meal kit, you can also pick them up at some grocery stores such as Albertson's, or even order them on an as-needed basis through Amazon.
3. Prepared Meal Delivery Services
The newest child in meal prep evolution are prepared meal delivery services. If you don't want to cook a meal kit and want the benefits of a personal chef without the high cost, then the fully prepared meals offered by meal delivery services were made for you.
For most of these companies you order each week, usually a week in advance, meals are made for you for your selected number of servings, then are chilled and delivered to you to reheat in the microwave or oven in just a few minutes. Boston-based The Foodery was a pioneer in this way of life, while Soulfu3L, Fresh n Lean, and Paleo Power Meals all feature formidable offerings. Some prepared meal delivery services are subscription based while others operate on an as needed basis. If you want to take the cooking out of cooking, prepared meal delivery services are the option for you.
Come forward into the modern times of meal prep and give either meal kits or prepared meal delivery a try. Both options offer you time savings on shopping and meal prep, and if you opt for prepared meals you get to cut down on cooking and clean-up time. Mix it up a little, maybe you still love to cook but can't commit to it every night. Alternating your menu between meal kits and prepared meals can help you save time, keep things interesting, and ensure you and your family are getting the healthy meals and proper nutrition you need.