I’ve never been a meal kit person. From the onset of the trend years ago, I saw doing my own shopping and discovering new recipes via my cookbook collection as part of the joy of cooking. That’s until I hit month three of quarantine with an approximate 180 dishes under my belt. I finally caved and had my very first Sun Basket order delivered.
My theory held strong when I cooked three times a week, but not three times a day. My limited repertoire—pesto pasta, chicken cacciatore, Merlot chili, rinse and repeat—started to feel tired and repetitive. By the time I attempted to expand my culinary horizons, ingredients like fresh oregano, tomatillos, yeast, and ricotta had long deserted my local grocery store shelves. There was only so much I could do with all those beans.
The week our Sun Basket arrived, a delicious spread we could only have dreamed of ordering at a restaurant rotated our dinner table: braised beef panang curry with jasmine rice and sweet peas; pork carnitas tacos with pickled onions and salsa verde; Moroccan chicken tagine with currants, spinach, and artichokes. It seems I wasn’t the only one to have this idea. Food subscription sales have surged in recent months. If you, too, are feeling mealtime fatigue, here are a few of the services that are more popular than ever.
If You’re Short on Time but Big on Vegetables
One of the things that sold me on Sun Basket (other than the fact that it caters to every diet and the ingredients are organic) is that it offers recipes with varying degrees of prep, so it’s easy to have a lazy night and still serve up a delicious and healthy dish that doesn’t involve frozen pizza. Since the start of the pandemic, the company reports its orders have doubled—both from existing clients and an influx of new users. It has also launched an initiative called Feed It Forward, giving people the option to donate meals to front-line workers at checkout.
If You’re Still Working on Those Kitchen Skills
Freshly also saw an unprecedented spike in demand since quarantine began—so much so that it had to put customers on a wait list for the first time. The brand focuses on ready-made dishes portioned for one person, like turkey mushroom meatballs with zoodles, so you don’t have to be a family of four in order to enjoy the food. Recently, Freshly launched Freshly for Business to help companies provide their teams with food no matter where they are.
If You Love a Glass of Wine With Dinner
Even Blue Apron’s already large share of the market has increased during lockdown. It reported a 9 percent bump in orders in its first quarter. On top of its regular menu, the service is giving subscribers the option to pair the perfect wine with their dinner. So orecchiette and cauliflower with garlic breadcrumbs can be enjoyed with a Chardonnay from Burgundy, while miso-ponzu burgers with sesame shishitos and mushrooms taste even better with an Oregon Pinot Noir.
But If You Ultimately Just Miss Your Local Haunts
New Yorkers, rejoice—restaurants all over the boroughs are coming up with their own DIY recipe packages. Antica Pesa in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is delivering ingredients for both its beloved cacio e pepe (it’s a George Clooney fave) and amatriciana to re-create at home, while Sol Sips in Bushwick is selling large-format kits for fruit bowls, plantain tamales, and coconut curry stews to enjoy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Even Roberta’s is jumping on the trend with make-your-own pizzas. In San Francisco, restaurants such as Palette Tea House and Canela are delivering similar make-it-yourself meals like dim sum and seafood paella. Now there’s no excuse to suffer from dinnertime boredom.
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