Hoisin and shiitake burgers with miso mayonnaise and sweet potato wedges. Skillet roast chicken with caramelized fennel and potatoes. Seared steak with spring veggie succotash and chive-mint pesto. These are likely not meals one would dream up from scanning recipe websites or flipping through a dog-eared Joy of Cooking. You could, however, have any of these and many more delicious, imaginative and healthy dishes delivered to you — as long as you are willing to do the cooking.
Fresh ingredients with all the accompanying sauces, seasonings and garnishes can be delivered to your door. Step-by-step instructions help even the novice prepare food as if he had just graduated from an elite culinary institute. Several companies offer flexible subscription plans, guarantees of quality and satisfaction, and adventurous dining.
Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh, and Peach Dish offer subscription services throughout the continental U.S. Other services such as Din (formerly known as Forage) and Provenance offer service in particular metro areas, in these cases San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City, respectively. Per-meal costs vary but range from around $8-12.50 per meal. Blue Apron's basic two-person subscription provides three meals per week with ample quantities. Plated offers a choice of two-, three-, or four-meal plans for a week. Hello Fresh offers two, three, or four meals for two per week. Peach Dish has a basic subscription level of two meals for two per week.
All four enterprises emphasize quality ingredients and responsive customer service. Gaps in a subscription may be scheduled ahead of time, and shorter-term interruptions in scheduled deliveries can be made within the time frame specified by each concern. Be sure to understand the terms of any such service you choose.
The advantages of having meals delivered to your door ready to prepare are numerous. The menu planning and grocery shopping have already been done for you. Quantities of ingredients match the requirements for the recipes, so no more will a neglected cabbage half occupy your produce drawer until it reminds you of its presence as it gets tired.
The varied menu choices will present new flavor combinations and likely introduce new ingredients to the average palate. Who would have known how beautiful the watermelon radish for the endive, mint and citrus salad would be? Who might have thought of adding the lime zest to the southwest chicken soup for that added flavor kick? These and other ideas can perk up a meal and pique the imagination for further experimentation.
A drawback to consider before subscribing is that once the meals arrive they do need to be prepared before the next week's shipment. Hence, be sure you're able to devote the time for the preparation, and plan to eat in — spontaneous restaurant meals will become less common. Herein lies a somewhat hidden advantage of the gourmet-meal-at-your-door service — though the per-meal cost may be somewhat higher than your basic pasta or burger meal from the grocery store, it is a good deal less than a restaurant meal. Indeed, three fine meals per week for a couple will tally up for less than one decent restaurant meal.
Expand your dining and cooking horizons — give it a try!