The evolution of the meal kit has fully arrived in the form of meal delivery and subscription services. As working professionals, entrepreneurs and hustlers in the gig economy, more and more of us want to eat right, but we don’t want to cook (not even if it comes perfectly proportioned in a cool box on the doorstep). Here are the companies that operate regionally and nationally that can send you better-than-average meals to your door.
- Freshly – From a program for all standpoint, Freshly is a top pick for anyone who wants to explore meal delivery. With the ability to deliver anywhere in the U.S., their food philosophy, menu options, and the cost is second to none. I was even able to have deliveries sent to a rural route road in Texas!
- Hungryroot – Hungryroot is perfect for light eaters with little to no prep time. Ready in under 15 minutes, you can take their 30+ offerings and mix and match them into lunches and dinners, and snacks you can eat wherever you are. They are testing pop-up retail locations on the East Coast right now, so don’t be surprised when you see a store-front in the near future.
- Sakara – Sakara isn’t a service I’d classify as a regular eating delivery service like the other companies mentioned here, it’s more for those wanting to “cleanse and detox.” While it has a core weekly menu containing nutrient-rich, organic foods, they also offer deep cleanse detox, and a 20-day bridal prep menu. It’s definitely a high-end, luxury program at a cost of $68+ per day.
- IO Nutrition – IO offers a diverse menu that caters to all dietary preferences. They ship nationally. What sets them apart is that they offer breakfast meals that are substantial and worth the purchase.
Regional – Thistle
Thistle currently delivers in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Greater LA Area, Sacramento (coming soon!), Davis, and all of CA and parts of AZ, ID, NV, OR, UT, and WA. All of Thistle’s meals are gluten free and dairy free. They offer two types of subscriptions, vegan and clean animal proteins, which can be customized in areas with local delivery. All other areas offer a prefix menu. They also offer whole, organic fruit and veggie juices. In terms of originality and creativity, their menu is the strongest. So if you want to Instagram highly delicious, very creative meals, then Thistle will be your go to. Also, Thistle’s founder answers customer emails directly. Talk about dedication (Thanks Shiri!).
Regional –– Territory Foods
Territory is available in Dallas, Washington DC, San Francisco and Southern California. At first glance, Territory feels like family; its support of nonprofits and ending hunger caught my attention as their ads filled my Instagram feed. Their highly creative meals are REAL certified, free of dairy, gluten and refined sugar* and sustainably sourced.
Regional –– Go Methodology
Methodology is available in Southern California (Los Angeles, OC and San Diego), San Francisco Bay area, Portland, OR and Seattle, WA. They offer gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and processed ingredient-free meals. Grass-fed ghee is the only form of dairy they currently use. What I love is that they actively publish their farming partners and sourcing list. They make dishes with game meat (venison or boar) from Durham Ranch. Now that’s original. They also have cost effective 2-week gut health and digestive reset programs.
Seattle, Washington –– Eat Local
During my three years in Seattle, Eat Local became one of my absolute favorite places to pick up prepared meals when I simply needed a cooking break. Living in downtown, the location on Capitol Hill was walkable (they also have locations in Queen Anne and Burien). While Eat Local caters to any diet, they also offer family-size portions and really unique Indian and Asian meals that other services don’t offer given the tech population of Seattle. All of their meat is sustainably sourced from local farms whenever possible. Their production plant is in Seattle and most recently, they started shipping for free to Oregon and Idaho!
Sacramento, California –– Meal Pro & Fit Kitchen
Sacramento is a growing city. Being the farm-to-fork capital, I was surprised when many of the meal delivery services I wanted to try didn’t ship here. But I was happy to find two nearby. MealPro, located in Roseville, CA offers a customizable menu for local subscribers that costs under $10 per meal. You can have them delivered or pick them up (a great option if you live in Roseville or Folsom). Based in Sacramento, Fit Kitchen is available locally, but also in Nevada and Arizona. Fit Kitchen offers the greatest flexibility in terms of picking your ingredients and also customizing portion sizes. Because of this, their meal pricing is also the most flexible. No matter how you eat, if you’re looking for local in Sacramento, then these two are worth checking out.
What I Learned In This Process
Eating someone else’s food was hard for me. I am a woman who raises her own meat, grows some of what I eat, and what I don’t grow I get from friends’ farms or the farmer’s market. In a nutshell, here’s what I learned eating meal delivery:
- Meal delivery services are pretty awesome.
- Meal kit services pale in comparison (too much packaging, scant portions and poor overall quality of meat –– don’t ever send me a Sun Basket, I’ll send the dogs after you!).
- If you have an advanced food palette, you’ll season everything you eat to meet your taste preferences.
- The most cost-effective solution to eating great food is to make it myself.
- There’s nothing better than raising and growing what I eat (I have no regrets learning how to butcher my meat, it’s simply the best solution for me!).
- I’ll use meal delivery services as a back up and when traveling (most deliver anywhere).
As someone who believes that you must experience and be open to something in order to truly understand it, I researched my way to finding better food choices for time-pressed people. Even though I’m going back to raising and cooking my own food, don’t worry there’s Freshly in the fridge if you want some when you come to visit!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the interviews, business insights and listicles of cool meal subscription companies. If you have feedback or comments, please email me, I’d love to hear from you. Also, feel free to subscribe to my bi-monthly newsletter on food, wellness and agriculture.