On a busy weeknight, picking up fast food rather than taking the time to cook dinner is a strong temptation. Fortunately, three Austin companies offer prepared meal kits that are a healthy alternatives to greasy takeout. Each kit contains prewashed, chopped and measured ingredients with instructions to make a home-cooked meal, turning even the novice chef into a master of the kitchen.
Friends Allie Werner and Kristen Low created Fairytale Meals to help busy families come together for dinner. They design their recipes for a slow cooker, typically with an eight-hour cooking time, letting their customers assemble the ingredients, set a timer and have dinner ready when they return.
“We initially thought our target audience would be busy families,” says Low. “It’s been interesting to see how much our customer base has grown to include friends helping with care calendars, office lunches, young professionals, college students and people dealing with food allergies — anyone who craves the comfort of a home-cooked meal.”
Customers order by 6pm on Fridays for delivery the following Monday, choosing from two hot-meal kits and a salad. Meals average $4.50-$7 per serving are available in two sizes: a full meal feeds six to eight people, while a half feeds three to four. Fairytale Meals can adapt recipes to accommodate food allergies as well as gluten-free and vegetarian needs.
In addition to being able to order local and organic grocery items in general, Greenling customers can buy kits for one, two or five meals as part of their weekly delivery order. Meals range in price from $20-$40, depending on the number of servings, and are available for a variety of dietary preferences including vegetarian, Engine 2 and Love Cleanse diets. They even offer juicing kits with ingredients to create a 16-ounce drink for $6-$7.
“Many people tell us that they love our meal kits because their kids can help in the kitchen — with no chopping needed, small hands can help combine ingredients and get involved in learning about food,” says Aspen Lewis, Partner in Lime at Greenling.
Greenling sets delivery dates based on ZIP code; potential customers should check their service area map to determine if they are eligible.
Featuring recipes that take 30 minutes or fewer to cook, Peasy gives customers the options of ordering kits online to pick up later or grabbing one on the fly at the mobile pick-up location at Rosedale Market. Owner Megan Clark and chef Karen Montgomery create two recipes each week; they feature local and organic produce and locally sourced, artisanal foods from Antonelli’s Cheese, Easy Tiger and others. Dinners cost an average of $6-$9 per serving and are available in small (2-3 servings) or large (4-6 servings) size.
“One of the advantages to our dinner kits is that they are a low-risk and low-effort way to try something new,” says Clark. “One of our most popular dishes is a Moroccan chicken tagine, which has spices that not everyone would have in their pantry. Using our meal kit, you don’t have to buy all the staple ingredients for a new cuisine to just use a few tablespoons of something. We give you everything you need.”
Lucky customers who work for a company located in the Frost Bank Tower can order online by 5 pm on Sunday and have their kits delivered to them between noon and 2 pm on Monday for a $4 delivery fee. Clark looks forward to adding other delivery locations as the company grows.