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Caring For Our Kids

Dinner at your doorstep: Healthful options for families

Munchery delivers chef-quality meals to your door. photo: courtesy munchery

One of the hardest parts for me about getting back into a school routine is finding the time and energy to make dinner. After school is packed with pick-ups, drop offs, and trying to get homework started. It is usually in the middle of that that I hear the dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?” and I start to panic. Restaurant delivery is no longer our only option; now it is possible to get fresh and healthful meals delivered to your door-step. This is a great alternative for those nights when I know we are getting home late and I won’t have time to get to the store or cook. Here are some of our favorites.

Munchery: If you are looking for restaurant quality food by some of the best local chefs, then Munchery is a great option. You can order the same day and most orders placed by 4 p.m. are delivered before 7 p.m. There are new options added daily, but I suggest ordering early because some of the more popular meals sell out quickly. The meals are delivered chilled and require simple heating either in the oven or microwave. The best part is that for every meal ordered, Munchery will donate a meal to someone in need. No cooking, no dishes, and you are helping someone in need — a win-win all around. My only complaint is that the kids’ options are weak, so if you are planning to order for the whole family, try something from the main menu you know they will eat. We recently ordered yogurt chicken with couscous and an arugula and apple salad, and the salad was the biggest hit (munchery.com).

Sprig: This meal service is an app available from the Apple and Android app stores. Former Google executive chef Nate Keller designs the meals. Sprig delivers to most parts of the city for lunch and dinner. The lunches are priced around $9 and the dinners are $10. The $2 delivery charge covers tax and tip — you can’t beat that. There are three choices each for lunch and dinner, so not a huge variety, but there is usually something for everyone (vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and so forth). There are usually pasta or chicken options, which have been big hits with my children. Last week, we tried the turkey lasagna, and there wasn’t a crumb left on the plate, which was surprising, because my children tend to be a bit fussy (sprig.com).

Luke’s Local: This company combines the best of both worlds. They provide fresh organic produce and meats and prepared meals. These meals can be anything from a kale salad to a marinated steak or even an artisanal pizza. They don’t have same-day delivery, but orders received by midnight Sunday are delivered on Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s easy to go online and create a “mealbox,” which you can put together as a one-time option or a weekly subscription. We recently tried the family box, which included six meals, two fish, two meat and two veggie, plus two salads for $75. This was a lot of food, but not food I would have chosen myself, so I suggest putting together your own mealbox to make sure you get food everyone will eat (lukeslocal.com).

Instacart: If you have the time or like to cook but don’t have time for the shopping, then Instacart is your best bet. This is not a meal service but more a grocery delivery service. You can order groceries from Safe-way, Whole Foods, and even Costco. They have also recently added Bi-Rite and Rainbow Gro-cery. This is perfect if you don’t want to stop on your way home from work, if you have a sick kid at home and can’t get to the store, or if you are like me and just find grocery shopping with a toddler to be somewhat torturous. You can order the groceries online, and depending on how much you spend, delivery is either free or a small fee. Gone are the days of racing around to several different stores trying to get everything you need. The service is very user-friendly, reliable, and extremely convenient. You pick the delivery time and the groceries arrive at your door (instacart.com).

Whether you are looking to plan meals for the week or a last-minute dinner option, these are all great choices and definitely worth a try. All these services also offer gift cards, which make great gifts for new parents, teachers, and coaches. I also like that it pushes us to be more adventurous and try new foods that are not part of our usual dinner rotation. For me, sometimes spending a little more for healthful food is worth the time and stress saved.

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Liz Farrell is the mother of three young children. She was formerly a television producer in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco.

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