Munchery, Kendal’s Kitchen, Maven Meals, Eat Local and Fresh and Ready Meals reviewed by nutritionist and food-lover Carrie Dennett.
Meals prepared at home are almost always healthier than restaurant or ready-to-eat meals, but while I am a huge advocate of home cooking, I’m also a realist. I know that sometimes cooking for yourself is just not going to happen, even if you have the best of intentions. Fortunately, there are better options than takeout, cold cereal or frozen pizza — healthy meal-delivery services are popping up all over.
For example, a few months ago, dinner in the Beacon Hill home of Anna Wade and her husband, both 35, was typically takeout or sandwiches for dinner. “We ate what was there, there was no planning,” Wade said. “We knew that it wasn’t the best way, but we didn’t have the energy or the time or the experience to do it the right way.”
Wade started looking for other options for healthy, nutritious food to get them through the week. “We have a toddler and we work more than full time. We wanted something convenient where we did not have to do any work at all.” She decided on Kendal’s Kitchen because she felt it offered “homemade, real food.”
“It’s local, it’s organic, it’s fresh, it’s healthy. I know that it’s going to be filling and nutritious,” she said. More than that, she says it’s taught them how to eat. “We eat on time, we eat all of our meals, we don’t skip lunch, we don’t skip dinner,” she said. “It’s opened our minds to new foods. It gives us more time to spend with our family. We’re better role models for our kid. When we do cook, the meals we make are healthier.”
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Whether you find yourself playing catch-as-catch can with dinner regularly, or even occasionally, having a healthy dinner delivered can be as easy as ordering a book online.
I tested five services that deliver to the Greater Seattle area, focusing on those that offered healthy, fresh food without promoting calorie restriction or requiring customers to opt-out once they sign up.
All but one service provided a complete ingredient list, but most did not include calories or other nutrition information. This may not work for some, but it is ideal for people who aim to use their internal hunger and fullness cues to guide their eating. Portions were ample but not excessive, and while all the entrees tested contained vegetables, most would benefit from extra veggies or salad on the side.
Is this an affordable way to eat? Wade and her husband order four to five dinners and 10-12 lunches per week from Kendal’s Kitchen. Compared with what they were spending on groceries and takeout, she said they’re saving at least $200 per month.
This San Francisco-based company recently expanded to Seattle. They offer fresh meals, cooked locally and delivered each day. Ingredients and basic nutrition information are provided for each dish. Meals are tagged as vegan, vegetarian, wheat-free, nut-free, dairy-free and so on, but are prepared in a kitchen environment where cross-contamination could occur.
We enjoyed Sichuan Eggplant & Soba, Halibut and Summer Corn Salad, Shoyu Tofu Veggie Bowl and Cured & Grilled Salmon. Tester comment: “These guys should be doing airplane food. They know how to cook fish so it can be microwaved without getting nasty.” Munchery may be best for those trying to break a frequent restaurant habit or who need same-day ordering.
From her home base in West Seattle, Kendal Swinski, a Bastyr nutrition grad and former personal chef, offers both fresh and frozen entrees and sides, delivered weekly. All menu items are gluten-free, most are dairy-free and all ingredients are listed. “I decided to offer all gluten-free foods because there are so many other things out there,” Swinski said. “[Gluten] is not something sorely needed and missing from most Americans’ diets. Vegetables are. Carefully processed foods are. This is what we want to provide.”
We immensely enjoyed Cherryaki Chicken Lettuce Boats, Market Fresh Quinoa Salad, Cauliflower and Green Onion Fritters, KK-style Meatballs, and the Butternut Squash & White Bean Croquettes. “We get to dispel the myth that healthy food is inherently unappetizing, bland or ‘insert other negative descriptor,’ ” Swinski said.
Out of her kitchen at Maven Mercantile in Burien, Heidi Pomeroy prepares fresh meals delivered weekly (orders can also be picked up at the Mercantile), with vegetarian, pescetarian and gluten-free offerings.
We enjoyed the Quinoa and Pistachio Salad with Moroccan Pesto, Mexican-Style Pork with Creamy Cumin-Lime Sauce, and the Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Bell Peppers. As with Kendal’s Kitchen, Maven Meals is best for those who enjoy, healthy, tasty home cooking with options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Eat Local is indeed local, with stores in Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, downtown and Burien, plus an online store that delivers via FedEx throughout the Pacific Northwest. All meals are frozen, and include vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free options. They ship daily, or you can pick up at one of the stores.
Our thoughts after testing Chicken Rogan Josh and Green Thai Curry: “Next time I’m craving curry, I know where I’m stopping on the way home from work!” Eat Local may be the best option for those who want to stock up on healthy freezer meals, who love curry and Asian food, or who live/work near one of the Eat Local stores.
Fresh & Ready Meals (FARM)
West Seattle-based FARM offers fresh dinner entrees delivered weekly. Meats and some veggies are cooked. If pasta, or grains are part of the meal, it is provided for you to cook separately.
Minimum order is three days of meals. No substitutions available for dietary restrictions.
We enjoyed Chickpea and Chicken Stir Fry, Roasted Zucchini and Goat Cheese Enchiladas, Pork Roast with Peach Compote. FARM may be best for families, because the more portions you order, the lower the per-meal cost, plus you can order half-portions for younger kids.