Let’s do some simple math — 3 meals a day times 18 years. That’s almost 20,000 meals to get your mini-you to adulthood. Gulp. So what do you do if you’re too busy to do it day after day, or (in some cases), simply not very good at it? Fortunately, now there’s an answer to those questions and to parents’ prayers. Read on to learn about three local meal delivery services specifically designed for kids.

photo: Wise Apple

Wise Apple
Getting kids up, dressed, fed, and headed to the bus stop with their teeth brushed and homework in hand feels much like a Broadway production. Making a nutritionally balanced, organic, tasty lunch for each of your kids while you’re at it? Mission impossible. Sure, you could do it the night before like your grandmother’s housekeeping magazines suggest, but once the kids are in bed that’s your time to catch up on work, laundry, email and the Real Housewives of (enter your favorite franchise here).

photo: Wise Apple

Enter Wise Apple, formally known as Pak’d, a meal delivery service that does lunch for you. Wise Apple focuses solely on providing responsibly sourced, nutrient-packed, chef-prepared lunches for school-aged kids. You and your littler lunchers can go on getwiseapple.com and choose options from a menu that changes weekly. Some examples are Let’s Kick it Chicken Salad with cruchy veggie chips, fruit and granola bites or Presto Pesto with pesto pasta, edamame salad and sweet granny smith apples.

All lunches are super-healthy, packed with fresh ingredients and are designed to stay fresh for 5 days in the refrigerator. They come packed in cooled, insulated packs, so worries about being home when they’re delivered. Allergy concerns? (No nuts ever!) The nutritional information for every ingredient is visible on the site, and why wouldn’t it be? These lunches are as nutritious as they are delicious, easy and affordable (just $6.50-$6.99 per meal, depending on how many you order per week) – everybody wins!

Be smart: getwiseapple.com

photo: Nurture Life

Nurture Life
Need help on more than one meal per day? Have a little one who isn’t quite ready for solid food yet, but can’t bring yourself to feed her mush from a jar that expires when she’s twelve? Or do you simply want to serve your kids tastier, healthier meals but don’t have the time or the skills in the kitchen to do it? If you answered “yep, that’s me,” to any or all of the above, you’re not alone. Freshly launched last August in Chicago, Nurture Life is a total meal delivery solution that has met the demand for fresh, organic, ready-to-eat meals for babies, toddlers and kids from six months to 18 years old. Can I get an “Amen”?

photo: Nurture Life

Founded by two tech execs who are busy parents themselves, Nurture Life’s mission is to make it easier for parents to feed their kids healthy, delicious, properly portioned meals, from the start. Designed and created by a team of chefs and a pediatric dietician, each meal is nutritionally proportioned according to the child’s feeding stage. Common allergens such as peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish are never used in any recipe, and all meals are prepared in Nurture Life’s commercial kitchen to ensure that there’s no risk of cross-contamination for these ingredients. Menus for all stages include seasonal creations as well as traditional favorites so kids won’t get bored. From pure organic vegetable purees for your littlest one, to teriyaki salmon over brown rice or chicken meatballs with homemade mac n’ cheese for their older siblings, even your pickiest eaters will love this sneakily healthy food (although they may refuse to admit it). Nurture Life even offers “finger food” meals for babies who are just starting to eat table food (think golden potatoes, dill & salmon – hands off, mom!). All meals are carefully packed cold – never frozen – in an insulated box and delivered to your door once a week. Just transfer to the fridge, reheat and serve – it doesn’t get much easier than that!

photo: Nurture Life

Nurture Life offers flexible subscription-based plans that allow families to scale their meal selections over time. Plans range from $35 to $119 per week and can be easily adjusted to suit the needs of evolving families: choose from 8 or 14 meals per week for babies, and 5 or 10 meals for toddlers and older kids.  With the commitment that “our meals will never contain artificial ingredients or preservatives, added, refined sugars, trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup,” busy parents can rest assured that they’re keeping their kids healthy, while getting more rest with the time they save!

Never cook again: nurturelife.com
photo: Little Harvest

Little Harvest
New to the prepared baby and tot meal delivery service game, Little Harvest is making quite a splash. Founder and Chicago mom, Ashley Gilday, wanted to control the quality of foods her son ate by feeding him homemade meals that would also foster a habit of healthy eating. She soon uncovered what other busy moms before her realized, it’s hard to find the time to plan, shop, prep and package meals without sacrificing that coveted and precious family time. Not wanting parents to have to choose between convenience and quality, she founded Little Harvest.

When you sign up for Little Harvest meal service, you’ll find organic food with no preservatives, added sugar, salt or artificial flavors with menus created with the help of a Pediatric Nutritionalist. Totally cool part? Your uber fresh meals for kids up to age 2 are dropped at your doorstep just hours after being made.

Once you’re ready to get started, you’ll select a weekly meal plan for ages 4-6 months, 7-9 months, 9-12 months or 1-2 years that start at just $3.27 per day. Food comes labeled and ready to eat in 1 minute or less (perfect for those sometimes impatient tots!). You can go with their suggested weekly meal plans or customize your order in the Little Harvest Market. Customers order by midnight on Sunday, meals are made in a licensed, commercial kitchen on Wednesday and meals are delivered in a stay-fresh box on Thursday. It’s as easy as that!

Start them out young: littleharvest.com

Have you tried one of these meal delivery services? We’d love to hear about it in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers & MaryKate Hickey