Healthy Frozen Food or Meal Kits with No Prep
January 13, 2021 5:50 AM   Subscribe

My early-70s dad is currently recovering from heart surgery in another state. My sister has been staying with him. When running down a list of what could be the most help for her right now (short of taking a shift with Dad; not safe in our high-COVID area until he gets his second vaccine dose), she suggested some zero-prep meals -- i.e. frozen foods or meal kits with no prep. Any suggestions of kits or meal delivery services that are (1) zero-prep; (2) heart healthy; and (3) available in rural New England?

To add a bit more color:

Spouse and I have done a little hunting, but most of the frozen food recommendations are for things you buy out of the case at the supermarket. We'd like to have something that we can get delivered to my dad's place directly to save my sister needing to go out / get exposed and her time (closest big grocery story is 20-30 minute drive away; closest large health food store--like Whole Foods--probably more like 40-60). Also, dealing with a not very adventurous meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, though he is fine with most/many veggies. He does have restrictions related to blood thinners IIRC.

Zero-prep would be to both save my sister time and also allow my dad, once he is able to get about more, to easily prep his own meals.

Spouse and I can pack up a box and ship. We live 2 hrs away in the big city, so have access to all the places--we could spend an afternoon doing a touchless delivery if required, though we would like to avoid that to reduce our own exposure.
posted by chiefthe to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Have you looked into Schwan’s? They do frozen, home delivery and have healthy options.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:22 AM on January 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Freshly offers zero-prep meals—heat and eat. You pick the meals you want, you pick how many you want per shipment, choices are healthy. I helped my parents sign up when all **this** started and they’ve been pretty happy with the quality and variety. You can look on the website and see if the meal choices would fit your dad’s preferences.
posted by bookmammal at 6:23 AM on January 13, 2021 [4 favorites]

Also try searching the internet for "personal chef" in the area. I have had some luck with that.

And some restaurants are now offering meal kits.
posted by NotLost at 6:39 AM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have also used Freshly a few times over the last few years. It's great when I need a break from thinking about feeding myself. Definitely google for promo codes, they always have something going.
posted by phunniemee at 6:45 AM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We've looked at FreshNLean for a similar situation. Their meals are pre-cooked and vacuum packed, they come once a week in a box and you put them in the fridge, and when you're ready to eat you microwave one for 3 minutes, done.

They're set up for ongoing subscription plans and apparently it can be a little tricky to cancel. They do offer an "ala carte" option to do a one-time delivery if you want to test it out (there's a minimum dollar amount for this) but the option seems deliberately hard to find, in fact I can't re-find it on their site right now. [Update: re-found it here: Fresh N Lean ala carte option] We used the ala carte option last year to send food to a relative and they reported the food was good.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:51 AM on January 13, 2021

Popping back in to say that the Freshly site is really easy to navigate, and it’s easy to skip deliveries as well as cancel. And the one time I contacted customer service they responded immediately and helpfully.
posted by bookmammal at 7:26 AM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Another option is Territory. My sister and sister-in-law both really like this service when they were in the midst of major health issues.
posted by kimdog at 7:45 AM on January 13, 2021

Best answer: Have you talked to his local Office on Aging or Meals on Wheels? Your dad may be able to get meals from them or if not, they may have a service they use and can recommend.
posted by entropyiswinning at 8:11 AM on January 13, 2021 [5 favorites]

I had forgotten about it but we got a gift card to Territory when we had a newborn - very easy heat and eat with lots of healthy options (and very tasty!)
posted by brilliantine at 9:14 AM on January 13, 2021

The one issue I think you would find with most of the Meal Prep options is that they don't offer the same foods- they thrive on having different options all the time, so if your father craves comfort foods that might be hard. I think utilizing meals on wheels from a senior service would make the most sense for your dad, and then one of the meal prep delivery services for your sister. I have used Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. I like Hello Fresh because they had a lot of yummy totally prepared options- microwave and you have dinner, and other ones that are lower prep, as well as ones where you prep on your own. They also have a bunch of different health add ons for breakfast and snacks.
posted by momochan at 9:58 AM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

We also use Freshly and are very satisfied with what we get, but I do always recommend checking Craigslist and Yelp for "personal chef" first. It sounds fancy, but the affordable options are basically Freshly - ready-to-microwave meals in a black to-go type container - without the massive amount of packaging plus money going straight into the local economy during a pandemic when meal-prepping may be keeping a family afloat.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:34 AM on January 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Have you looked into Schwan’s? They do frozen, home delivery and have healthy options.

That is what people around here (rural Vermont) use who are not Meals on Wheels people. My landlady is 97 and was having trouble with meal prep on her own and her concerned family member spoke with the local hospital--which happens to have an amazing cafeteria--and they now cook a set of meals from their menu that are available for pick-up. She's pretty specific about what she can eat and not eat and I don't think this is cheap per se, but they are good at doing it and understand what "heart healthy" means.
posted by jessamyn at 1:21 PM on January 13, 2021

It depends a bit on your definition of zero prep, but Hungryroot is pretty great - they sell various meal components (proteins, veggies, sauces, fresh pasta, etc.) that can be combined in delicious ways for a pretty much heat-and-eat meal. They lean vegan but have some meat available to add on as well. And lots of packaged snacks as well - both fresh and shelf-stable types.
posted by mosst at 1:41 PM on January 13, 2021

I've also heard good things about Daily Harvest, though I haven't tried it myself. Also very plant/veggie-focused.
posted by mosst at 1:42 PM on January 13, 2021

In our household we've been getting these Loma Linda variety packs via Amazon and really like them. Shelf stable, good variety, heats in the packet, and zero cholesterol because they're plant-based. They're not spicy, but not 'meat & potatos' plain.
posted by homesickness at 1:50 PM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wanted to follow up here:
- I looked at Meal-on-Wheels, but they are quite restrictive in who is eligible for my dad's area. He also noted that a friend of his who used it wasn't quite happy with it and meals couldn't be customized from what he understood. (Fine -- didn't want to fight the battle with him or the Meal-on-Wheels people.)

- Fresh N Lean, by far, had the most lowest sodium options for both meals and bulk foods. Most of the others didn't have easy to access sodium information and/or had high levels in their meals. All of Fresh N Lean's bulk food was low or no sodium. Most of their meals were at a good level of sodium for his condition. Also, the bulk food included elk and venison, which he was very excited about (the elk was too tough for him, so he is going to do a stew with it, and probably the same with the venison). We found and used the al-la-cart option, which worked perfectly for him, as it kept him in food for a couple weeks.

- Verdict on the food: He really liked it. He was able to get 2-3 meals out of each of the full meals. Once he's done making and eating his stews, we'll probably do another order. It is definitely saving my sister time to prep, so that is a big win!

Thanks again to everyone for all the suggestions!
posted by chiefthe at 4:30 PM on February 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

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