By Elisabeth Monaghan
As the holidays approach, there will be more articles and blog posts about shopping for ingredients without spending too much money, how to cook the perfect turkey, or making those delicious side dishes that will have everyone coming back for seconds. Some are likely to clip these helpful tips, while others are busy coming up with their own. Then there are those who seek new options for holiday meals they can serve at home – especially options that don’t involve shopping for ingredients or, even better, don’t involve much preparation beyond stirring food or cooking it in the oven.
Fortunately, there are meal delivery services that can accommodate the busiest people or the “cooking-impaired.” The trick is to know what it is you want to eat, how many people you wish to feed and how much you can afford to pay for the ingredients (or complete meal).
Not all delivery companies offer options for traditional holiday feasts, but the convenience of having food delivered during a season of extended-hours shopping, holiday work parties, and jam-packed social calendars can be enough incentive to use such a service.
When exploring meal delivery services like HelloFresh, Blue Apron or Home Chef, it is clear from the start that the only way to research them is to first provide an email address. Once the company has received that email, they let the prospective customer tool around
their site to learn about their packages and pricing.
Meals are based on how many recipes per week a customer would like for how many people. For example, HelloFresh offers a Family Plan of three recipes each week to feed four people. The weekly rate is $104.88, but by entering a promo code the first week would cost $74.88. To receive three meals a week for four people Blue Apron typically charges $107.88. With its discount for first-time subscribers, the cost would be $87.88, while Home Chef charges $119.40 for three meals a week for four people. With their new-subscriber discount, that fee drops to $89.40 for the first week. Some services include delivery or shipping fees, while others add those fees on top of the cost of the meals/recipes.
For a traditional Thanksgiving dinner that either is ready to serve or requires minimal preparation, one option is Martha Stewart’s Marley Spoon. For $159.99 (plus shipping), Marley Spoon, ships a kit with all of the ingredients, along with cooking instructions, for a 12- to 14-pound turkey, gravy, four sides and one dessert to feed between eight and 10 people.
Send a Meal provides complete, prepared meals that simply require heating. For Thanksgiving, Send a Meal’s gourmet dinner offerings for up to 10 costs $255.95 (discounted from $334.92). The meal includes a 10-pound, oven-ready basted turkey that will require cooking, along with gravy, dressing, green-bean casserole, red potatoes and pumpkin pie. Shipping is free. Compare this to Gourmet Grocery online, who will feed eight to 10 people with its 10-pound, oven-ready whole basted turkey and three side dishes for $169.95. (This is a sale price, as its usual rate is $239.95.)
Another option is Denver-based SupperBell, which has partnered with local chef and restaurant owner Frank Bonanno to offer its “Frank Bonanno Thanksgiving.” For $149.95, they will send half of an herb-brined roasted turkey with five side dishes. This is enough to serve four to six adults, or four adults and four children. Delivery is free.
While this is not a comprehensive list of options available to those who lack the time or desire to prepare a Thanksgiving feast, it should be enough to give a sense of how much a person will need to budget for a meal delivery service – whether it is a one-time special occasion or an ongoing need.