I like to cook, but I don’t always like to go grocery shopping.
I like to cook, but I don’t always enjoy meal planning.
I like to cook, but sometimes I just wanna mix things up and try something new.
I don’t really know how to cook, but I want to learn. Help?
Sometimes, I don’t feel like cooking at all. I don’t even want to go pick up takeout. I just want food delivered to my door.
If any of those statements resonates with you, then you may want to consider a meal delivery service! Meal delivery services are cropping everywhere, and I feel like I’m just starting to get the hang of one when another new one pops up. I’ve tried four of the options offered in the SF Bay Area so far, so I can give you the lowdown on how they work, how they differ, and which one would fit your needs best! Here is my review of The Munchery, Gobble, Blue Apron, and Door Dash.
The Munchery is advertised as “Fresh ingredients. Chef-made. Delivered. Ready when you are.” Complete, chef-prepared meals are prepared and chilled ahead of time. It arrives at your doorstep on the day you want, chilled and ready for reheating. There is a nice variety of food to pick from on the menu and you can spoil yourself with little treats like cookies and fancy cheese plates if you are so inclined.
Skill Level: Easy (reheat in microwave or oven)
Cost: Entrees go for about $9-14 (extras available for more). Delivery fee is $2.95.
Cons: You don’t get the self-satisfaction of cooking it yourself.
Bottom Line: This is for the person who doesn’t want to cook, but is tired of takeout from restaurants and wants freshly prepared food delivered to their door.
Gobble advertises itself with “farm fresh 10-minute gourmet dinner kits with 3-step instructions delivered to your door.” Dinner kits are filled with fresh pre-chopped and par-cooked ingredients so all you really have to do is finish off cooking by throwing everything together in the pan to finish. Straightforward and simple.
Skill Level: Easy-Intermediate (no chopping, but you gotta turn on the stove)
Cost: ~$12-14 per meal (depending on number of meals ordered). Includes delivery.
Bottom Line: This is a good starting place if you want to try cooking on your own but don’t have an hour to spend on it. The ingredients are still fresh, but details like sauces or dressings are pre-made and ready to use. It feels like you made the meal yourself, but doesn’t take too much prep time or dishes to wash afterward.
Blue Apron is the most work- and time-intensive service listed here. You basically get all the raw ingredients and detailed instruction cards, and are expected to prep the meal from start to finish. While each of my meals have come out looking beautiful and tasting pretty great, I can’t say I’ve always enjoyed the whole process. For one, they don’t tell you what you’re finely chopping your 1 teaspoon of tarragon for, so it’s not until the end when you’re like, “Ohhh, this was just a garnish for the fish…” And it isn’t until you’ve painstakingly minced your garlic and poured out exact amounts of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (which, btw, comes in adorable little bottles that you may be tempted to collect and keep (don’t)) that you realize you just made your own vinaigrette. I can’t help but think they could have saved us all some serious time and packaging if they just mass-produced some vinaigrette or yogurt dipping sauce and packaged it in a bigger container bottle for us to toss our salads or dip our chicken tenders with. But I guess part of the point of this particular service is the satisfaction of knowing that you made everything from scratch yourself– even if it means they package tiny amounts of Tabasco sauce and cute little tablespoons of vinegar in minute, doll-sized bottles for you. I will say that the quality of their produce (especially their proteins) have always been top notch, so even though the portions always feel too small for us, at least we’re getting quality ingredients.
I spend about 10 minutes organizing all of the ingredients into baskets (not included) whenever a delivery comes.
Skill Level: Intermediate (You’ll need multiple pans/bowls, and you will be much quicker if you have knife skills)
Cost: ~$10/meal (includes delivery)
Bottom line: This is for someone who wants to try new dishes, learn some new techniques, and has time to do full prep for a full meal. If you don’t care to make your own delicately seasoned sauce to drizzle over your pan-fried chicken, this may not be the service for you.
DoorDash Food Delivery is “Your favorite local restaurants delivered to you.” It makes it possible to get Ike’s Lair delivered straight to your door. The app allows you to see at a glance how long the wait time is until delivery from each restaurant, which is handy if you’re feeling hangry and getting food ASAP is more important than eating from a particular restaurant. The app also keeps you posted on when your food has been picked up, and gives ETA updates during the 30-40 minutes that pass from the time of submitting your order.
Skill Level: Easy (no prep)
Deliciousness: (depends on restaurant)
Cost: Delivery fee is $5.99 (with optional additional tip for driver). Food costs vary depending on the restaurant you select.
Bottom line: Great way to get takeout delivered to your door from restaurants that don’t traditionally offer takeout service.
So there it is. My rundown on some of the SF Bay Area food delivery services available to make your life a little simpler. Here’s a comparison chart for you visual people:
|Delivery Fee||Price Per Meal||Skill Required||Deliciousness||Home for Delivery?||Eco-Friendly|
|The Munchery||$2.95||$9-14||Operate microwave||8 out of 10||No (but there are no cooling packs either! So really, yes…)||Okay|
|Gobble||Included||$12-14||Operate stove||7 out of 10||No||Yes|
|Blue Apron||Included||$10||Knife skills + operate stove||9 out of 10||No||No|
If you’ve tried them, share your thoughts in the comments below! And if there are others you’ve tried that I didn’t list, I’d love to hear about them. With our next baby on the way, I’m eager to find ways to simplify things and make home life more enjoyable while still gathering together for meals at the table!