Some seasons feel just a bit crazier than others—and in our book, this is one of them. Somehow, on top of school, play dates, homework and activities—everybody still needs to eat! You know what they say: it’s OK to ask for help—and sometimes, that means getting an assist from a meal kit delivery service. We sampled offerings from meal kits of all kinds—vegan, one-dish, just-for-kids, foodie-inclined, etc.—and are here to help you decide which meal kit is the best for your busy NYC family. Read on to find out, and spend some more QT with the kids with the time you’ll save!

photo: Yumble

Yumble: For Ready-to-Eat Yummy Nutrition and Fun Incentives

Ease of use/prep: It kind of doesn't get any easier. Yumble sends you six, 12, or 24 meals a week, which stay fresh in the fridge for a full seven days. 

Taste: We tried nutritious takes on kid-friendly favorites like chicken pops, multigrain mac and cheese, pizza pockets, turkey cheddar pinwheels and bowl of yays (a fun pasta dish). Our kid tester enjoyed all of them (as did we, as we sampled) although the healthy treat pops were not a solid sell to our kid. 

Packaging: Yumble's box, meal sleeves and meal trays are 100% recyclable.  Plus, they strike a home run with fun packaging, games, illustrations and even motivational Yumble coins that can be used to motivate kids to try new foods—and then redeemed by the kids for Yumble product rewards.  

Cost: It's a weekly subscription, starting at $6.99 per meal. 

Recommended for: Busy parents with kids ages one to six years, who would also love some help motivating kids to eat healthy and try new foods. 

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photo: Martha & Marley Spoon

Martha & Marley Spoon: Best for Families with Time to Cook

Ease of use/prep: The instructions are so easy—even a beginning cook can figure out how to put together Martha-approved meals. However, expect to spend at least 45 minutes putting everything together.

Taste: Your kids will think they’re out for dinner—the meals taste great, there are 20 recipes available per week and some are specifically ‘kid-friendly.’ In addition, props to this one for the number of locally-sourced items.

Packaging: Expect your box to contain a lot of packaging, including lots of little plastic bottles for wet ingredients, which is a huge eco-drag. However, if you don’t keep much in your pantry, this will make your life a lot easier. For example, order a grilled chicken Caesar salad and you’ll receive everything you need to make it, except salt, pepper and olive oil. Surely you have that in your kitchen cabinet!

Cost: A family kit feeds four adults and the per portion price ranges from $6.99 to $8.49, depending on the plan you choose (the more dishes the lower the price) plus shipping of $8.99.

Recommended for: Families that love cooking together

Gobble: Quick One-pan Meals

Ease of use/prep: Putting together dinner literally takes just 15 minutes to assemble and every ingredient is prepped and portioned. Busy families will also appreciate the ‘Sunday meal prep’ option where you’re shipped all you need to prep grab-and-go lunches in 90 minutes for the rest of the week.

Taste: Gobble will appeal to parents who have zero time to get dinner on the table and happily, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free meals are available. The downsides: While ready-to-bake chocolate chip cookie dough and sides are a plus, they’re extras and come with an additional cost. Also, to stay on-plan, you have to order a certain number of meals per delivery and that might not fit your weekly dinner plans.

Packaging: Like many meal kit deliveries, expect ingredients to be packaged in lots of zippered plastic bags and while everything’s on ice, you’ll want to make sure to get home fast to refrigerate your items.

Cost: Available in two- and four- person plans—a two-person plan with a standard three dinner weekly kit is $71.94 plus $6.99 for shipping; a four-person plan is $143.88 per week plus $6.99 for shipping. 

Recommended for: Busy families that don’t have time for prep

photo: Purple Carrot

Purple Carrot: The 100% Vegan Meal Kit

Ease of use/prep: Relatively easy; sticky pans made clean-up a little challenging. We were particularly impressed with the freshness of the ingredients from Purple Carrot.

Taste: Tasty, if maybe a little sugary—although perhaps that helped our junior testers give the thumbs up to the delicious tamarind cauliflower dish.  Protein content varies from dish to dish. Our rainbow salad with bbq tofu had 34 grams, the tamarind gnocchi cauliflower with ginger fried rice and cashews had 14 grams, and the Japanese gnocchi had 10 grams. However, customers can prioritize high protein count, gluten-free dishes, or “chef’s choice” when selecting a plan. 

Packaging: As with most kits, a lot—which kind of made the how-to’s about composting fall a little flat. 

Cost: A two-serving plan (recommended for singles and small families) is 11.99 per serving, with three meals, about $72. (A plan for larger families is $7.99 a serving, with two meals, serving about six.)  

Recommended for: Vegans, vegetarians and flexetarians who want to introduce some more creative prep and flavors for plant-based eating. Also good for those who enjoy vegetarian meals but can’t pull off a weekly shopping trip and don’t have a lot of basic ingredients in the house for when they do want to cook. (For example, you get a small container of dijon mustard if it’s needed for a dish.)  

photo: Nurture Life

Nurture Life: Fresh & Organic for Young Ones

Ease of use/prep: Very easy. You can heat up NutureLife meals in your microwave or in your oven, and the little packages the meals are sealed in are microwave-safe. The busy mom and dad who launched this company definitely sympathized with overwhelmed parents who truly wanted the best and most nutritious meals for their kids, but lacked time, and sanity, to prep.

Taste: Delish. We loved the cauliflower mac and cheese and the chicken biryani. (We took a bite of each and the food was fresh and tasty.) 

Packaging: We loved how it was packaged well in ice, thick cardboard, and soft foam. We tried the Toddler Meal Plan (Ages 1-3) and received four different meals, which were nice and cold when we got them. 

Cost: Other meal plans available include Baby (8+ months), and Kid (4-8 years old; 9-13, and 14+). FYI: NutureLife also has plans for teenagers, that they can easily heat up themselves and are nutritionally-balanced.

Recommended for: Busy families with two working parents, and picky kids! You can view each week's menu online, select the specific meals you'd like your kids to try, and every single ingredient is outlined online as well. They also indicate which meals are "Picky Eater Faves" such as  the brand's Cheesy Zucchini Pomodoro. Fun facts about the meals are also included, such as: The vitamin A in carrots is beneficial for vision while fiber aids your little one's digestion. These little nutritional tidbits remind you, the parent/guardian, that each and every meal is nutritionist-approved, so you can serve them to your kids with confidence knowing they're healthy, nutritious and delicious.

photo: Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh: You’ll Love This if Your Kids Aren't Picky Eaters

Ease of use/prep: The instruction sheets are super detailed with color photos explaining each and every step. The prep is negligible since almost everything is shipped ready-to-go.

Taste: We tried the Sausage and Spring Pea Risotto with lemon and parmesan. It was quite tasty and, besides mincing shallots and quartering a lemon, that was about all the prep required.

Packaging: Like many other meal kits, there’s so much packaging—down to even the smallest ingredient arriving in its own small boxes or bags.

Cost: Opt for two to three meals per week from the Classic, Vegetarian or Family plans (which serve four people). Expect to spend about $10.75 per person per meal or $59 per week. Delivery is free.

Recommended for: Families with adventurous palates

photo: Harlow's Harvest

Harlow's Harvest: STEM Fun in the Kitchen

Ease of use/prep: Since the kit doesn't actually come with the ingredients, you'll have to go out and buy them yourself. However, it does make it incredibly easy to buy everything you need to with a nifty little shopping list. Each recipe is incredibly kid-friendly: None of the three recipes we got required any cooking, though some parental supervision is still needed to oversee the cutting, the use of boiling water, and other similar prep. In addition to recipes, the kit also includes STEM activities, a themed project, science facts about the more unusual ingredients, and an overarching message/takeaway point. That makes this kit also fantastic for children who want to get involved in the kitchen but also in the world around them.

Taste: The kit takes familiar flavors (like avocado) and adds a twist (like nori - that is, sushi seaweed paper). The dishes are themed and the flavor twist makes it easy for kids to try new things by attaching them to beloved foods like noodles.

Packaging: Besides the compact cardboard box itself, there was no extra packaging at all! All the kit's contents came directly in the box, including the complimentary apron, sturdy booklets and even the monthly kid-friendly cooking tool (for us, it was a pair of beautiful chopsticks). This lines up with the message of the sample kit we got: reduce your plastic usage and leave less of a negative impact on the world. Check! 

Cost: You can pay $23 per month or save some money by signing up for a 6-month plan at $126 ($21 per month) or 12-month plan at $228 ($19 per month). First month is free through a promo.

Recommended for: Little chefs who love to do everything on their own and want to learn about the world. 

—Lambeth Hochwald

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