Chef Jay DeLong of Canape Catering

For many time-starved, exhausted moms, thinking about cooking is not a romantic undertaking. It’s a luxury to think about gourmet grocery shopping and meal prep when the house is crazy messy and the kids are acting like little devils. But help is a few clicks away with these meal prep and dinner delivery services.

Designed Dinners
Nearest locations:
Seattle and Redmond.

Select gourmet entrees from a monthly menu of 18, created by chef/dad Bruce Pinkerton. Then, choose a session date, cart along a casserole dish (if the menu indicates) and an apron, too. Wine is available to help make your work more enjoyable—careful, though, it might make your measurements sloppy. You can plan conversation-filled private sessions if you have a group of friends that wants to go together.
 Entrée examples: Chicken Mole, Lemon-tea Poached Salmon Fillets, Stuffed Peppers. The cost is about $3 to $7 per serving. Bonus: If you visit the Seattle location, you can get a quick bite at Urban Café by Designed Dinners.

Dream Dinners
Nearest locations: Seattle, Poulsbo and Mill Creek.

Dream Dinners, based in Snohomish and started by two moms, is credited with taking the organized dinner assembly trend to a national level. The moms opened their first Dream Dinners in 2002 and now have locations across the country. Using convenient prep stations, where everything is pre-chopped, you put meals together. The whole process takes three hours at most and costs about $3 per serving. The best value is choosing to make 12 family-sized dinners per month. Store the entrees in your freezer (where they can last three to five months) and then thaw, pop them in the oven and garnish before serving. 
Entrée examples: Crispy Coconut Chicken, Steak Salsa Verde, Tangy Down-Home Pork Chops.
 Bonus: First-timers can watch a video on the web site to learn the ropes before going in to a facility.

Dinners Ready
Nearest locations: Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, Redmond, Lynnwood, Shoreline, Seattle, Woodinville.

Instead of slaving away at home, many moms (and dads) opt to spend a quick hour or two building family-sized meals at one of the Dinners Ready facilities. The assistants here shop, prep and arrange ingredients so that everything is efficiently at your fingertips and set for measuring. The monthly menu allows you to choose from 16 different dinners. At your appointed time, you’ll ready the food, then take it home, freeze it and cook it at a later date. Note: As with most of these types of places, you’ll need a cooler for transporting your meals home.
 Entrée examples: Pesto balsamic chicken and herbed bowtie pasta; Tikka pork chops with chutney and curried couscous. Entrees average $3 per serving.
 Bonus: Dinners Ready supplies freezer bags, labels, disposable baking tins, detailed instructions and people (hopefully eager) to assist you.

Lucky Palate
Serving: Seattle, Edmonds, Redmond, Bellevue.

Lucky Palate carefully crafts vegetarian meals and brings them to your doorstep. The nine-year-old company’s tagline is “Slow food for the body and soul.” Order by Friday for Tuesday delivery. You can also stop by their Queen Anne storefront (307 W. McGraw St.; 206.352.2583) on a Monday morning to get last week’s entrees for $1 each.
 Entrée options: Ratatouille, Mexican Roasted Veggies, Curied Lentils. The average cost is about $6.50 for a two-serving dish.
 Bonus: Sign up for a “What’s for Dinner?” meal plan and continuously receive two to six meals per week.

Delicious Planet
Serving: Seattle and the Eastside (see site for specific zip codes).

Founder Randi Carter studied nutrition at Bastyr University, so she knows healthy food. DP’s menu items are organic, trans-fat free, seasonally influenced and, thankfully, good tasting. Rare for a delivery service, healthy kids’ meals (chicken tenders with roasted potato “fries” and veggies, to name one) are always on the menu. DP delivers food on Mondays through Fridays; order by 4 p.m. for next-day delivery. Entrée options: Honey Walnut Prawns, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Old-Fashioned Beef Stew are among many choices of fresh and frozen items. Fresh entrée prices range from $12.50 – $20.95. Bonus: Everything is 100 percent guaranteed. If you don’t like it, DP will credit your account.

Other foodie services to try:

  • Fantazimo Tired of packing lunch for your kids? Fantazimo will do it for you and deliver to your child’s school. Fantazimo offers fun, delicious and healthy meals and will deliver to any school in the greater Seattle area. Each lunch includes the entrée, fruit, vegetable, protein and bottled water. You can order as few or as many lunches per month as you wish. Lunch is available in small or large for about $5-$5.50 including tax.
  • Canape Chef Jay DeLong will come to new parents’ houses and make restaurant-worthy dinners (and will clean up, too). The current spring menu features smoked sea scallops and garlic-crusted lamb loin.

—Red Tricycle