I used to love to cook -- spending hours in the kitchen making healthy, gourmet meals for myself and my (mostly appreciative and adventurous) husband. But eight weeks in my first pregnancy, I was passing out every evening at 8 pm and my husband was ordering Chinese food so often that they knew our order by heart. All plans for an organic, nourishing prenatal diet were out the window.
For urban mamas and mamas-to-be who are too busy (or too exhausted) to cook for themselves, this city has everything from personal chefs to a-la-carte catering to take the pressure off putting healthy food on the table. Read on to find a meal delivery service that works for you!
1. FOR THE BABY SHOWER GIFT OF THE CENTURY: CARRIED AWAY CHEFS
Created by a professional chef who understands the throes of new motherhood, Carried Away Chefs is the ultimate splurge. The chefs at Carried Away will sweep into your home, groceries in hand, and make you a fridge full of amazing food. Our chef, Alyssa, came in with a smile, was a doll to my kids, and had the apartment smelling ridiculously yummy within minutes. My little ones loved peeking in on her progress and even tried some dishes. And then, Alyssa put away all our delicious food (roasted heirloom tomato soup, mini veggie frittatas, apricot glazed chicken and tons more) and left our tiny kitchen even cleaner than she found it.
Good to know: gift cards are available! Cost starts at $300 + cost of groceries for 4 mains + 4 sides to feed a family of 4. Kid meals available. Detailed intake form and menu e-chat with your chef makes everything very pregger-friendly and customizable.
2. FOR THE COMMUNITY-MINDED DINER: UMI KITCHEN
Such a brilliant idea, it's surprising that Umi Kitchen only came onto the food scene this past spring. With a recently expanded delivery zone, which includes parts of Manhattan and northwest Brooklyn, Umi lets you basically order your neighbor's home cooking. An iPhone app allows you to choose from an eclectic group of vetted home chefs cooking everything from Jamaican jerk chicken to gluten-free turkey Bolognese.
Good to know: Cost averages $15/serving (usually a generous main dish with 1-2 sides/dessert) + $4 delivery fee. Same day ordering or up to a week ahead. Not customizable. No kid meals.
3. FOR FOLKS ON A BUDGET: MUNCHERY
The most affordable service in our roundup, Munchery is like having a favorite restaurant where the menu changes daily. You can order their delicious food (everything from salmon burgers to chicken curry) up to nine days ahead, so if you know you'll be without a home cooked meal next Tuesday, you can make sure Munchery hooks you up. Best of all, Munchery posts a complete ingredient list for each meal, along with a comprehensive nutrition breakdown so you know exactly what you're eating. Toss in the fact that the average dish comes in under $10, and you have yourself a winner.
Good to know: Not really customizable (though sauces come on the side and rarer food can be cooked further if desired). Kid meals, vegetarian and gluten-free options available.
4. FOR THOSE WITH LITTLE MOUTHS TO FEED: PANDA PLATES
Designed for busy moms with kids at home, this newcomer solves your “what's for dinner" woes by sending you fresh, healthy, ready-to-heat-and-eat meals for kids. From quinoa pizza cups to steak tips, each yummy meal comes with a side of vegetables and a little cartoon panda with an “eat your food" inspirational message. My picky toddlers tried everything I served them from Panda Plates (no easy feat, believe me!) and particularly fell in love with the banana coconut muffins.
Good to know: Cost averages at $9/meal, with a commitment to a week's worth of food. Portion size suitable for kids under 12. Vegetarian and gluten-free meals available. Allergens listed on each menu item.
5. FOR ETHICALLY-MINDED MAMAS: PORTABLE CHEF
If sustainable farming is just as important to you as tasty food, then this is the service for you. Portable Chef makes small batches of food to suit your basic dietary needs, accommodating for general goals like paleo or gluten-free living, or weight loss. Portions are generous (our Filipino chicken adobo was enough for a meal and a half), and with each delivery you get a list of the farmers and artisans who helped make your food.
Good to know: Cost for 5 dinners for a family of 4 starts at $500. Different packages available depending on how many meals/days/family members. Certain dietary/pregnancy related requirements can be accommodated. Kid meals available.
6. FOR MAMAS TRYING TO LOSE THE BABY WEIGHT: SAKARA LIFE
If you find yourself back in regular life post baby, but not in your regular jeans, Sakara Life is a good way to shift gears. I loved starting my morning with their rosewater drink (sipped mindfully, as instructed). Spending the day munching on plant-based power-food dishes (the Roasted Peach Chana Masala with Coconut-Basil Quinoa was delicious), I felt great knowing I was detoxing and getting a boatload of veggies. There is literature available online, and a health coach will reach out to help you adjust to the Sakara lifestyle (and with no animal protein on the menu, it was quite the adjustment for me).
Good to know: Cost/person for 3 meals/day for 5 days starts at $349. Commitment is weekly (or by subscription) for either 3 or 5 days of food. Not really customizable—allergies are accommodated for an extra fee. Ingredients listed on each container.
*This post was not sponsored, but all meals were provided for the author for review purposes.