Dinner got you down? Meal kits, which have exploded in popularity, can take the pain out of planning and prepping for what can become a daily drag, saving time and adding variety to your family dinner. While takeout is easier, meal kits give you the satisfaction of a home-cooked meal without the hassle of wandering grocery store aisles searching for a spice to use one teaspoon of it. We tested t four Bay Area-based companies that can spice up your dinner routine.
We found Palo Alto-based Gobble’s "three-step" meals the easiest to prepare, even though we couldn’t match the advertised 15-minute time to table. Most foods were pre-prepped and recipes were straightforward but sometimes required multitasking with stove, oven and microwave running simultaneously. All were tasty with a good variety offered, from Sicilian Style Albacore Tuna to Paneer & Cauliflower Tikka Masala. The weekly subscription requires three kits (for two or four people) for the first order but then can be reduced to a minimum of four servings per week. $11.95 per serving for six or more, $13.95 for four; shipping included.
Ayesha Curry, a chef, mom and wife of Warriors star Steph, created Homemade to help families get home cooking on the table. While billed as weeknight dinners, the two recipes we tried estimated 45-55 minutes of prep and cook time, which was on target with steps like making a marinade, cooking rice and other prep. Fish Tacos with Chipotle Crema and Beef Chili with Cornbread were yummy – but too spicy for my younger child. You can select from classic, no red meat or vegetarian categories. Homemade, located in Oakland, also offers a Kids Box with two quick dinners per week for four kids ($24.95) that kids can help make and cook. From $44.95 per week for one family-size dinner (for two adults and three kids), with more meals per week available; free shipping.
While better known for its readymade, on-demand meals, San Francisco-based Munchery also offers a number of meal kits – including recipes from The Slanted Door’s Charles Phan – without requiring a subscription. Kits only serve two, so families can order two of the same recipe, two different recipes or tack on a readymade kids meal. Barraumundi with Red Pepper Salsa over fennel was adventurous for our family but generally well received – though prep and cooking again exceeded the target 15 minutes. Kits are available for same-day delivery within a designated one-hour window. $23.95-43.95 for two servings; delivery additional.
San Francisco’s Sun Basket, headed by former Slanted Door chef Justine Kelly, uses organic and sustainably grown ingredients and offers a variety of plans for different dietary needs, including classic, gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian and vegan options. Subscribers can skip delivery weeks. The recipes we tried – Hoisin-Glazed Chicken and Glass Noodles (made from sweet potatoes) and Tofu Burgers With Oven Fries – estimated a 30-45-minute prep-and-cook time and included steps like peeling a potato and cutting it into fries, as well as chopping vegetables and herbs. But they encouraged us to sample recipes and ingredients we wouldn’t have tried on our own. The Family Menu plan offers two, three or four dinners from a choice of six recipes per week for four people at $10.99 per serving; the classic menu offers more options at $11.99 per serving.
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