These companies do the cooking for you. But how does their food taste?
Eating healthy at home has never been so easy, what with nutritious, convenient meal-kit services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh sweeping the country. Milwaukee entrepreneurs have jumped on this bandwagon, creating companies that stand apart from their national competitors by offering fully prepared meals made with local ingredients. We sampled some of their offerings, evaluating their relative ease of use and tastiness to help you get the most bang for your buck – and perhaps trim your waistline along the way.
Average cost per serving: $12.50
This paleo- and vegetarian-focused company offers subscription-based meals with vibrant tastes perfect for health nuts and those wishing to shed a few pounds. Meals are delivered fully cooked in recyclable containers with calories and ingredients listed on the packaging. All that’s required on your end is stovetop or microwave reheating.
Taste Test: In this case, one need not sacrifice quality for convenience. We devoured Origin’s excellent Korean black beans and kimchi, paired with carrots, cabbage and pears and served over rice. The result was a flavorful and tangy lunch option under 300 calories. And the “Winner Winner Porto Dinner” lives up to its name. It’s a perfect balance of Brussels sprouts and portobello mushrooms with creamy sweet potatoes and butternut squash, all topped with a cranberry sauce that adds needed zest. These options are just as good as what one would consume at a local vegan hotspot.
Average cost per serving: $12
Made for gym buffs on the go, Fit Food MKE’s pre-made, microwave-ready meals are available exclusively at Elite Sports Club and Gold’s Gym Milwaukee locations. Unlike the other two services we tried, Fit Food MKE is not subscription-based, so you can buy as many or as few meals from the constantly changing menu as you wish. Available in meat or meatless options, owner and chef Michael Ruch’s meals have fueled the likes of UFC fighters.
Taste Test: The goat-cheese-stuffed mushrooms incorporated crunchy corn and quinoa for a rich and satisfying dinner, but the huevos rancheros were a bit bland and less than filling. We also sampled a healthy take on a cheesesteak in the Philly cheese pork, with lean (bordering on dry), herb-seasoned meat, soft red peppers and red onions, and cheese topping that didn’t add much flavor.
Average cost per serving: $10
Unlike Fit Food MKE and Origin Meals, The Real Good Life’s ever-changing weekly menu of entrées, soups, salads and desserts is geared toward families, as well as busy singles less concerned with calorie counts or specialized diets. “I try to pick food that is healthier than what you would find at a restaurant, but still tasty enough to satisfy kids and picky eaters,” founder and owner Maggie Joos says. The meals require more prep time – as much as 25 minutes of reheating in the oven – than other local options.
Taste Test: Though our Real Good Life entrée of eggplant Parmesan was healthy and filling, it did not boast the zest or experimental flavors of competing meal services. Ingredient information is not as transparent, and calorie counts are not listed on the packaging or website.
If you’re looking for a way to bring dinner beyond your doorstep, Custom Meals offers a personal chef service that prepares and cooks meals – and cleans dishes! – right in your kitchen. Chef and owner Katie Losik performs individual consultations with clients to determine the kinds of meals and portions that will fit their nutritional needs and also satisfy their taste buds, at a cost of about $14 per serving. Losik says her bacon cheddar meatloaf and salmon cake with roasted red peppers are popular entrées: “Comfort food and healthy is what I have in mind for my dishes.”