For several years I’ve written about cleanses for our January issue. For 3-5 days I document my consumption of juices and/or salad-y type things while secretly pitying myself.
In the end, of course, I feel terrific, I feel accomplished. I smugly encourage everyone in my orbit to subject themselves to the same torturous diet, promising scads of energy and a healthy glow.
Yet now, as I storm through life as a mom with hungry teens, I look forward to long days of an all-liquid diet as enthusiastically as one might anticipate a bone marrow transplant.
Which means… meal delivery!
Meal delivery is wildly popular for many reasons. First, you don’t have to cook. Second, you don’t have to grocery shop. Third, you don’t have to find a recipe. Fourth, it’s cheaper than take-out. Fifth, if your kids don’t like it you can blame it on someone else. In many cases, you’ll even save money on groceries or, at least, won’t be tossing out ingredients you don’t use.
There are many great local meal delivery services catering to all tastes in Westport. Because I love the image of my being a mom who bestows healthful guidance upon her charges, despite… well, no need to get into that, I chose two services that promise tasty, healthy, fresh meals: MealJOY and Edibolic Kitchen.
While the meals I received were delicious, and I’ll get into that, there’s more to it.
I, like many of you, believe in the importance of family meals. They, and chefs like them, made this possible for me after a busy day. It’s dining without the despair of having to cook it yourself.
As I was sitting with my kids at the dinner table, watching my kids tuck into shrimp scampi and chicken fajita style, I was struck by what these men were truly doing. Meal delivery isn’t an easy task. Moreover, ensuring every last one of them is nourishing and healthful, visually appealing and varied… Woah.
Cooking comes from a place deeper than simply having a job or career; it’s a life choice stemming from a passion to effect joy. Says Chef Josh, “If I could run this and not have to charge people, I would… we’re really strong on getting the proper nutrition in a meal.”
Both chefs became interested in cooking as kids. Chef Sergio whipped up dinner for his two older brothers and worked in a senior home where a food service wrote him a recommendation for his now-alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America.
He worked in restaurants, including Michelin-starred One Market (“I peeled garlic for the first few weeks”), but then realized that eatery employ wasn’t feeding his soul.
He went to WWE, became “a little bit of a health nut,” and decided his real passion was food prep. He turned to his boss one day during the pandemic and remarked, “I think I’m going to start doing meal prep services.”
And so, he did.
Chef Josh was a pudgy, soda-swilling boy who got sick of being unhealthy. He started working out, cut out the junk food, and taught himself to cook nutritious meals. He lost 50 lbs of baby fat, studied for his associate's degree from Johnson & Wales, and earned a bachelor’s in nutrition.
After, he worked at, and became disenchanted with, a medical weight-loss clinic. In 2012 he dropped $10,000 on an old pizza kitchen and, by himself, developed, cooked, and delivered 40 meals a week.
Today, he has his staff work in a commercial kitchen five times the size of the original.
Now, this talk of nutrition doesn’t mean they’re packing up leafy things and unsalted, skinless chicken. They use a range of ingredients, including olive oil, pasta, and rice, to cook-up a well-balanced repast that won’t depress us.
For MealJOY, we dined on six dinners, including shrimp scampi with pasta, chicken masala, Mexican picadillo, feta turkey patty, and two grain bowls with an assortment of grilled chicken, farro, roasted vegetables, and spinach, and dressing on the side.
It was all wonderful, but the grain bowls knocked my socks off. My daughter loved the feta turkey even though she insists she dislikes feta. I sheepishly added some salt to the masala before realizing that it was okay to do so; no one was going to slap me with a penalty for doctoring my dish.
They also threw in pumpkin overnight oats topped with crispy, sweet toasted pecans and a generous oatmeal-chocolate chip ball. They both rocked.
Edibolic sent us basil shrimp curry, fajita style chicken, and southwest steak.
I was delighted by the generous portions of shrimp and steak in each meal, although my son ate all the steak before I could try it. I added some salsa to the fajita chicken, but just because I like salsa.
For us, the quantities were perfect. I kept the grain bowls to myself and made two meals out of each. But Edibolic and MealJOY have options to add more protein.