Even as a culinary school graduate, I find myself ordering from the same take-out place and making the same pasta dish for dinner every day. When you’re running short on time, it’s hard to get creative in the kitchen. You can order Chinese (and suffer the inevitable stomach ache), or pizza or scrounge around in the fridge for some sketchy leftovers. But there is hope for the weekday. Below are three innovative delivery services that can make your meals exciting with the click of a button, whether you’re a culinary expert or a complete beginner.
Quinciple ($200/month) is a subscription service that brings unique ingredients to your door. Instead of regular pasta, you’re given Sfoglini Saffron Zucca; instead of typical soy sauce packets, you can refresh Chinese dishes with Bonji from Kaizen Trading Company. Next week, I’m expecting meyer lemons, Gilfeather turnips, Coho salmon, Campagne bread from Bien Cuit Bakery and more.
In each delivery, you’ll find suggested recipes for a variety of skill levels, for example, recipes for broiled salmon with whipped turnips, poached eggs with crispy potatoes and even a cranberry cocktail. I find these easy step-by-step recipes particularly helpful when I’m faced with an unfamiliar ingredient like sunflower shoots. Also in the box is a complete handbook of all your ingredients, detailing where they’re from and a little story behind each producer, from Fleisher’s butcher shop in Brooklyn to Foraged & Farmed Edibles in Seattle.
If you want to choose your own groceries, look to Good Eggs, where all ingredients are grown and produced in and around Brooklyn from over 100 local farmers and foodmakers. (Good Eggs also operates in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and New Orleans.) I love Good Eggs because it gives me a chance to shop for exactly what I want without having to leave home. Switch the usual cod for Acadian Redfish (from Mermaid’s Garden) or go for a simple ready-to-eat meal like Pork Verde Tamales. The ready-to-eat items are especially helpful if your kitchen is too small to use (a NYC reality), you work until the wee hours or your cooking skills are…lacking. Other popular favorites include classic meatless lasagna (from Brucie) or wine-braised brisket potpie from Pie Corps.
For those who want to forego cooking altogether but still want a homemade meal, there’s Kitchensurfing ($25-$50 per person). This simple app allows you to pick a chef and a menu—then they’ll come to your home, cook, clean and leave in 30 minutes. Enjoy stuffed peppers with parsnip puree or hanger steak with chimichurri—all of which will be prepared with fresh ingredients in your kitchen.
There are hundreds of menus to choose from with Kitchensurfing, many of which can accommodate diets like vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and kosher. And you can feel comfortable about these chefs coming into your home: not only will they leave everything cleaner than when they started, but they undergo thorough background checks before joining the team. This is impressive if you’re having friends over or a date: just sit back, relax and soon your mustard-crusted salmon or carnitas with hominy grits will be ready.
With these new services, it is becoming easier to actually enjoy healthy, delicious weeknight meals. If your zip codes don’t happen to match up right now (Good Eggs and Quinciple are still expanding), try to find a service that will give you information about where your food is from. The more I have to read about the ingredients, the less likely I’ll let them go to waste. If you’re in a pinch, try Instacart can deliver from Whole Foods) or, if you’re in New York City, Max Delivery (for specialty goods like fresh pasta Cassinelli).
Whether you want to relax on the couch or get busy in the kitchen, these innovative programs will make weeknight meals exciting again—with plenty of desirable leftovers.
Ariel Kanter is an editor at Gilt City and contributing food writer to amNewYork. She lives and eats in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @RavenousRel and Instagram @ArielKanter for photos of meals and, occasionally, her cat Jasper.