If you are scrambling to get a healthy meal on the table, we get it. Somehow the dinner prep time is major crunch time for most families. These meal prep services know what it’s like and are here to make your meal prep a breeze. From services that offer heat-and-eat meals to those that do all the chopping and measuring for you, there’s loads of different options. Many offer kid-friendly menus to boot. Get cookin’!
Easy Prep, Easy on the Wallet: Dinnerly
If your goal is to get a wholesome, easy meal on the table for your family, then Dinnerly is the meal delivery option for you. Each week Dinnerly customers choose three meals from among six options which change each week. The choices are totally kid-friendly with options like sweet and sour Swedish meatballs, turkey burgers and enchiladas. Each meal has only five prep steps and takes less than 30 minutes to get on the table, perfect for rushed weeknight dinners. Not interested in getting your box this week? No problem! You can skip any time.
Seasonal ingredients, grass-fed ground beef and antibiotic-free chicken are all a part of the Dinnerly meal box. Efforts are made to reduce packaging waste and customers receive their recipe cards via email instead of receiving printed cards in their box. At only $4.99 per serving, Dinnerly makes easy weeknight dining a snap.
Cost: Two-person box containing three meals is $29.94, plus $8.99 shipping. A family box containing three meals that will feed four adults is $59.88, plus $8.99 shipping.
Professional Chef in Your Kitchen: Pocket Chefs
For a meal service of a different style, enlist the help of a professional chef in your own home! Pocket Chefs enables families to hire affordable and experienced culinary professionals to assist with everyday cooking needs. This new service enlists vetted, culinary professionals who have served many years as private chefs, caterers or restaurant chefs. All of their chefs pass a background check and are certified through SafeServ for cleanliness standards. Pocket Chefs understands the needs of your family and aims to deliver delicious and affordable meals in the comfort of your home. You can simply create an account, pick your preferred package and schedule when you'd like your Pocket Chef to arrive and start cooking!
The chef will call you beforehand to go over your meal plan and grocery list, taking into consideration any food restrictions or allergies. You purchase the groceries according to a list provided by your chef and then the chef shows up at the agreed-upon time to cook the meals for you. You receive four meals with 3-4 servings each, great for prepping for the week. Bonus: your kitchen will be left in tip-top shape when the chef is done!
Cost: Packages start at $149.
Eat In with Takeout Kit
If you are looking to add some world flavors to your cooking repertoire, look no further than Takeout Kits. These kits offer globally-inspired flavors and brings them to your door in some totally adorable packaging. Ever wondered what went into your favorite pad thai, Japanese Tonkatsu Ramen or Indian butter chicken? Get to know some new, exotic ingredients and learn how to cook these delicious meals for your family.
The kits contain non-perishable ingredients that can wait in your pantry to be cooked for up to two months (pro tip: bring a kit along on your next camping trip!). This makes such a huge difference for busy lifestyles to always have a tasty meal ready to cook when you come back from vacation or can't make it to the grocery store. Some examples of the Takeout Kit proteins include: dry cured Spanish chorizo, canned premium Japanese snow crab, 100% natural pouched chicken and many vegetarian proteins like lentils, teff flour, freekeh and tetra-packed tofu. If you'd like to add your own protein, select the "add your own protein" option.
This local, Bay Area company ships all over the U.S. so order a meal to ship to your far away family. Better yet, opt for one of the sampler kits to try a few at a discount and add on a drink kit to pair with your meal.
Cost: Kits range from $29.99-34.99 and serve four adults. No subscription is required.
One Family Meal Together: One Potato
When it comes to feeding families, One Potato has got you covered. Co-founder Catherine McCord's best selling Weelicious recipes are the basis of the One Potato meals. There's nothing fussy here—the organic, non-GMO ingredients come pre-chopped, pre-measured and ready to get from box to table in no time. Each recipe will be ready in less than 30 minutes, which makes weeknight meals a cinch.
One Potato understands that not every family has two adults and two kids so they offer plans for two to six servings per meal. By indicating how many children are in your family, you'll receive kid-sized portions (about half of an adult-sized portion) for them. Choose two or three meals to be delivered per week, or skip that week if you'll be out of town.
Each week you have eight meal options to choose from—five rotating Seasonal Favorite and three constant Family Favorites. Vegetarian, nut-free and gluten free meals are available. The included recipe cards are super easy to follow and kids will love getting involved in the cooking process by following along with the photos. Have them brown the ground beef for tacos or prep the par-cooked potatoes for French fries. The recipe cards provide tips for getting the kids involved in cooking.
Cost: Plans vary from $7.32-12.95/serving. The more servings you purchase, the lower your per serving cost will be.
Clean Comfort Food: Methodology
Looking to bump up your energy levels and decrease the time it takes you to put a meal on the table? Look no further than Methodology. This food delivery company aims to nourish your body with foods that make it perform at it's tip-top level. Choose among different packages that offer a mix of pre-made meals like 100% grass-fed steak and scrambled eggs as well as mix n' match jars. Combine the Spanish spice-rubbed Jidori chicken breast with beetroot walnut basil pesto "pasta" and broccolini tossed in roasted garlic for a dinner that will be on the table in less than five minutes. Everything is pre-cooked so you can literally pop it in the microwave or heat it for a minute on the stove.
All of the Methodology meals are prepared refined sugar-free, gluten-free and processed ingredient-free. Grass-fed ghee is the only forms of dairy currently used. Meals are packaged in leakproof, microwave-safe containers while mix 'n match items are packaged in (totally cute and totally reusable) glass jars. You can get your delivery on Monday or Thursday, depending on your location.
Cost: meals start at $15.99 each for lunch/dinner and $11.99 for breakfast
What Would Martha Make? Marley Spoon
This cook-at-home food delivery service recently partnered with Martha Stewart to help harried families discover their inner Martha. The partnership gives Marley Spoon access to Martha's archive of over 18,000 tried-and-true recipes to feature in their meal kits. They promise quality purveyors offering grass-fed beef, Berkshire pork, American-caught shrimp and artisanal cheeses. The menu features ten choices every week and the website tags meals as kid-friendly, under 30-minutes, gluten-free and other categories.
Favorites include: Lentil and Cauliflower Soup with Cheesy Topping, and Sweet and Sour Braised Pork with Apples and Smashed Sage Potatoes. The website provides big, colorful step-by-step photos for careless cooks and kids who want to help. Also, the blog offers great tips and ideas, like what to do with lentils, immune-boosting foods and Martha’s easy Oscar party snacks. The family kit feeds four adults, so will easily feed two adults and two kids.
Cost: Families can choose two meals a week ($76), three meals a week ($106.80) or four meals a week ($131.20). Delivery is free.
Fresh and Instant. Freshly
This one’s a subscription-based food company providing fully-prepared meals that can be microwaved and ready to eat in only three minutes. While Freshly recently made news with sizable funding from Nestlé, the company promises healthy, delish meals that are not instant hot chocolate.
Freshly features high protein, low carb, vegetarian, gluten free and paleo options. The flexible plan lets you order 4, 6, 9 or 12 meals per week so you can tailor it for which family members will be expected at the dinner table. This winter, some of the customer favorites include Steak Peppercorn, Veggie Penne, Chicken and Rice Pilaf, Homestyle Meatloaf, Buffalo Chicken, Three Bean Ancho Turkey Chili and their Denver Omelet.
Cost: From $8.99 to $12.50 per serving depending on the number of meals you choose each week.
More Time In The Sun, Less Time At The Stove: Sun Basket
Sun Basket provides meal kit customers with organic produce and clean ingredients with paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian and family menu selections. Consumers can also upgrade to premium meats like grass-fed filet and jumbo shrimp. Broaden your culinary horizons with family-friendly meals like chicken tagine and Taiwanese noodle soup. You can even select "super speedy" meals which can go from box to table in less than 15 minutes or "one pot" meals which keep the dishes to a minimum. Hooray!
Parents will love how Sun Basket encourages kids to participate in the cooking process (which has been shown to create more adventurous eaters). Each recipe includes a "Kids Can" section with suggestions of how kids can contribute to the meal prep by juicing a lemon, timing the orzo or strip the mint leaves.
Another great option for healthy eating: Sun Basket launched their Lean & Clean menu with high-in-fiber-and-protein recipes around 550 calories. The meal kit includes kid-friendly games and instructions—an interactive way to get parents and kids cooking dinner together.
Cost: $10.99 per serving
Plant-Based Power Food: Thistle
If you are looking to up your family's health quotient this year then Thistle is the meal delivery service for you. They offer fully-prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as juices, snacks, wellness shots and more. Choose what option works best for you with the price per item decreasing the more items you select. Every week there's a new menu and everything that is available is gluten and dairy free. You can choose from vegan and non-vegan options.
While the majority of the Thistle menu appeals to greens-loving adults, our kid tasters loved the raw energy bar (made with wholesome oats, almonds, dried cherries, walnuts, and energizing matcha) as well as the Moroccan Tofu Scramble (that had a whopping 28 grams of protein for the perfect before-school meal). Bonus for busy parents: the most you'll need is a few minutes to warm up the meals (if you desire) or eat them room temp instead.
Cost: Meals start at $11.50.
Positively, Absolutely: Postmates
Postmates helps people unlock the best of their cities, and their lives, with an insanely reliable on-demand "anything" network. Having expanded from the city to the suburbs, these mates will pretty much bring you anything you want from fave restaurants and fro-yo shops to organic produce and free-range meats. Were you up all night with a sick baby and there’s a rainstorm? Postmates will bring you Starbucks and Seventh Generation Laundry detergent. For Postmates regulars, there’s a subscription service called Postmates Unlimited, which gives free delivery on all orders over $20 for $9.99/month
Cost: Delivery fee is $3.99 for orders from a partner merchant. Anything delivered from a non-partner merchant is a flat $5.99.
Vegetarian = Veestro
How about 100% plant-based, organic, non-GMO, chef-prepared entrees, soups, and juices that just show up at your front door whenever you want them to? Then look no further than this healthy bunch (bonus: they deliver nationally, too).
There are no, zero, zilch animal products of any kind, here, ever! Chick'n Nuggets with chipotle dipping sauce complete with veganaise will do the trick every time for your kiddos and no one will miss the meat. Veestro food is available a la carte, in full-on Meal Packs, and they also carry a surprisingly delicious weight loss menu plan. As with most vegetarian cuisine: most meals have nuts in them so be careful with a nut allergy, but all meals are completely dairy-free and don't contain other allergens.
If gluten is your family offender, they carry a special pack called The Gluten-Free Feast which comes swiftly to your home via a chilled FedEx box and includes an assortment of gluten-free breakfasts, lunches, dinners and two desserts: gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and "cheezcake"!
Cost: $35 minimum food order, packages start at $99; free shipping for orders totaling $199
For Meals All Week: TableRunner
TableRunner has stood the test of time in the dinner delivery game with their family-focused menus with tasty options like Swedish Meatballs, Guiltless Grilled Chicken Carbonara, Rosemary Pork Chop and Pasta Bolognese. They’ve recently introduced Meal Reviews, so customer feedback can help guide product development and let the chefs know when a meal needs improvement.
TableRunner’s aim is to make dinner worries a thing of the past by offering a low-commitment subscription of 100% clean, all-natural, protein-rich comfort meals. When you sign up, choose two-six shared-plate meals per week and they will be delivered each Tuesday. Select which dishes you want from their rotating weekly menu of eight items. All are made to order, fresh and refrigerated, not frozen.
They are delivered in a well-designed insulated box so you don’t need to be home to receive your order. Menu items range from the light and healthy (Red Mole Chicken) to the indulgent (Meatball Stroganoff). Every meal is ready to heat and ready to eat in under six minutes via microwave.
Cost: $15/meal, for all membership plans. Delivery is free.
Goodbye, Hunger: HelloFresh!
With a newly-expanded menu and new Family Plan, HelloFresh is better than ever these days. Their goal is to bring the fun of cooking back into people’s lives by doing all the planning, portioning and shopping for in-season, sustainably-sourced, healthy and flavorful ingredients. HelloFresh prides itself on its delicious recipes with quick cook times; all your chopping, zesting and sautéeing will take less than 30 minutes.
With the debut of HelloFresh Wine and their new online marketplace that sells curated kitchenware, their portal is a one-stop shop for even more of your shopping needs (or wants). 2017’s most popular recipes included: Figgy Balsamic Pork, Korean Beef Bibimbap and a dish they call "When Steak Met Potatoes."
Cost: Meals range in price from $9.99/serving for vegetarian and classic plans and $8.75/person per meal for family plan subscriptions. Delivery is free for all orders.
Let ‘Em Eat Luke’s: Luke’s Local Mealbox
Their mantra is: It's all about helping busy people eat well. Let's face it, in a perfect world, dinner would be pre-planned and pre-prepped, and cooking and eating it would cure the day's stress, not cause it! The Luke's Mealbox is a sort of hybrid mashup between a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program, personal catering, and an artisan food shop. The website is easy to use and has a handy sidebar menu so you can easily select your dietary preferences: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, even a category for certified organic as well as sugar-free.
All Luke's 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 choose which items go in that box for every order: pick both farmers’ market produce and enough pre-prepped meals made by local chefs to last your family a week. Dinners arrive ready for oven or microwave Try Apple Brined Pork Chops With Cranberry Mostarda, Smoked Salmon With Spicy Golden Raisin Salsa, Citrus-Cilantro Tofu and good old Mac and Cheese. Nowadays, you can also take a stroll over to their shiny new brick-and-mortar San Francisco shop on Cole Street, too, if you feel like getting down with their goodies in person.
Cost: Prepared foods range from $5 (breakfast burrito) to $80 (family meal bundle). Delivery available in San Francisco, East Bay and South Bay for $3.99; orders over $50 receive free delivery.
Fast as Greased Lightning: Gobble
Say goodbye to grocery shopping, meal planning and prep, and all that cleanup! Gobble shops, chops and delivers gourmet three-step recipes for one-pan cooking with zero prep required. How about picky eaters? Try Pan-Roasted Chicken & Fennel over Butternut Squash Risotto, it comes "Certified" Gobble Kid Friendly. Take a walk on the wilder side with BBQ Tempeh Sandwich with Sweet Potato & Candied Pecan Salad. What have you got to lose when it's just a one-pan cleanup?
Cost: All-inclusive price of $11.95/meal if you order six or more meals and $13.95/meal if you order four meals. Shipping is free for all orders.
Dinner, Simplified: Shorebox
This new kid to the dinner delivery scene set up its home base in Campbell and has been bringing meals to happy families ever since. Download the Shorebox app and choose from adult meals, salads, kids meals and family meals. You can order by 10 p.m. for next day delivery, Monday through Friday.
Once your Shorebox meals arrive, all you need to do is preheat your oven to 375. Kids meals are ready in 13 minutes and adult/family meals take 17 minutes to heat. All meals come in compostable containers. Pro tip: skip the dishes and eat right out of the heat-and-eat containers.
Kids meals range from vegetable and cheese quesadillas to grilled chicken parmesan. Family meals include faves like meatloaf, enchiladas and BBQ chicken. Adults (and extra-hungry kids) can choose from pan-seared salmon, crispy beef stir fry and habanero braised pork. All meals come with veggie sides and many are gluten free. Shorebox prides itself in using only the best local ingredients like produce from Watsonville's Live Earth Farm and uses organic options when able.
Kids fall in love with something on the Shorebox menu? The good news is that Shorebox plans to keep everything that is currently available as permanent offerings. Once their business increases, they may add weekly specials to offer variety but they hope that the consistency of the food, low price and ease of preparation bring customers back week after week.
Shorebox currently delivers to the South Bay and Peninsula but hopes to expand to the East Bay and SF in the near future.
Editor's Note: As of August 2018, Shorebox has put itself on "pause" to find a larger production facility to help scale up it's service. Stay tuned for Shorebox coming to you soon!
Cost: $4.95/kids meal, $8.95-10.95/adult meal, $22.95/family meal (serves four), $5.95-$6.95/salad. Delivery is $3.95.
What’s your favorite way to get meals on the table in a jiffy? Tell us in the comments below!
—Kate Loweth, Erika Milvy, Erin Feher & Mireille Schwartz