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Lifestyle

The Girlfriend’s Guide To Meal Delivery Subscriptions

Girlfriends, you’ve paid your grocery-store dues aplenty. Don't you think it's time to treat yourself?

One of the most underrated perks of an emptying nest — or having older teens who are content to fend for themselves — is hearing the dreaded question, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” less and less. After decades spent roaming grocery store aisles (and your kitchen probably feeling like an assembly line mess hall), if you could transform cooking dinner back into a joyful rather than dreaded chore, would you? Well, you can, and you don’t even need to roam grocery store aisles to do it.

Among the million things for which we can thank the internet, we can now add dinner-prep delivery service. The popularity of meal subscription services is booming, and that competitiveness in the market means more menu offerings (including keto, vegan, Paleo and gluten-free diet options), lower price points, and more flexible plans than ever before. But how do you start a service, and what can you expect when dinner arrives in a box at your doorstep?
Girlfriend, I got you covered, and here’s what to expect.

Before you click “add to cart” on your first visit, take some time to look over menu options from several different services, and consider subscribing to more than one. (All offer a “pause” option, so if you’re not a fan of what’s on the menu this week from one company, just opt to skip it, and eat that week from another.)

New subscribers can expect a large discount and/or coupon code on their first box of dinners, so don’t check out without one. Portion sizes are actually accurate and not supersized, so when it says it serves two people, it really means it (not two with leftovers).

You will have little-to-no waste, so gone are the days of buying an entire bag of carrots for one carrot, and then having the rest rot in your produce drawer. How produce and fresh herbs arrive depends on the company — some will be completely portioned, prepped and bagged; some will require peeling and chopping.

All ingredients will be measured out and clearly labeled, and simple, clear, step-by- step recipe instructions and photographs are provided so even the least skilled cook in your home will be able to make dinner. (This means older teens are more than capable of making YOU dinner now.)

Here are three of the most popular subscription services, and features that make each stand out.

Plated (plated.com)
There are extremely flexible options that include ability to mix and match servings and menu combinations, and over 20 menu choices each week. Want a low-carb, gluten-free, spicy, or stove-only dinner? No problem. Best part? DESSERT. I whipped up a pecan pie in three minutes that would have made my Aunt Mabel jealous.

Hello Fresh (hellofresh.com)

Deemed America’s most popular meal service, the folks at Hello Fresh started and have nearly perfected meal subscriptions. Hello Fresh kinda has this dinner subscription service nailed, with guest chefs periodically providing menus; large, beautifully photographed recipe cards; a wine pairing subscription option (yes, wine can be in your box, too!); and a very flexible commitment contract. I enjoyed the comfort-food choice of Swedish Meatloaves, which I definitely will be making again.

Sun Basket (sunbasket.com)

If organically sourced foodstuffs are your thing, this should be your meal basket. Included are very out-of-the-box menu options (I made Mediterranean four-bean salad with panfried patatas and romesco verde — WHO AM I?), a large booklet that comes with your meals and reads like an actual cookbook, and directions for what those helping make dinner should be doing (read here, dear!). Sun Basket wins the award for sending dinners you’d never try cooking on your own but are fully capable of making. Their dedication to "farm-to-table” and smart recycling options for your meal kit are to be praised.

Girlfriends, you’ve paid your grocery-store and sous-chef dues aplenty. Don’t you think it’s time to treat yourself and walk to your front door for dinner instead? Take my word for it: IT IS TIME.

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