21st Century Fast Food
We all know it: that dire moment when we return home exhausted from a harried day and realize we have no idea what to make for dinner and no bandwidth to even consider cooking from scratch. In the past, options for fast, convenient nourishment were to nuke a TV dinner or call for fat-soaked pizza or the sodium tsunami of Chinese take-out. How times have changed. Home-delivered meal kits have become one of the biggest, um, home-cooking trends.
In just a few years, dozens of companies—including Sunbasket, Terra’s Kitchen, Blue Apron and Purple Carrot—have jumped into the meal-kit game. For your buck, you get a kit of food replete with all the preportioned ingredients down to the sesame oil and necessary recipe instruction to crank out a complete meal in a flash. A far cry from freezer- burnt Salisbury steak, meals can range from Cuban shrimp mojo tostadas to bison vegetable stew. Many companies accommodate a wide spectrum of dietary lifestyles, from paleo to vegan, and some have a dietitian on staff to monitor the meals’ nutritional value. Some stress eco-conscious kits made of organic and/or locally sourced edibles.
Advocates believe meal kits arriving on doorsteps give a fuss-free, healthy-eating solution to Americans who find menu planning, grocery shopping and prepping from scratch too taxing. But skeptics say that handing over recipe and food-selection duties to others sacrifices a big part of the home-cooking experience. They also point out that weekly meal kits can quickly blow up a food budget. And one consistent grumble is excessive packaging that serves a delicious meal with a side of garbage.
Have you tried one of these direct-to-consumer meal delivery services? Do you think they are helping or hurting the long-term goal of getting Americans to eat better? Send your responses to Sandy Todd Webster at firstname.lastname@example.org.