San Francisco has long been a culinary city where the denizens wait patiently in line to slurp handmade noodles in fragrant pork belly broth, swallow fresh-shucked oysters bathed in tangy mignonette, or indulge in pillowy sugar-coated, nutella-filled doughnuts. While we are a city of hungry eaters always eager to experience the next great dish, until recently most people left the cooking to the professionals. However, thanks to a handful of revolutionary new meal delivery services, more locals are taking to the kitchen — of their own homes. No need to menu plan or grocery shop. With these meal kits, ingredients arrive portioned, prepped, and ready to cook. Eager to experience the next big trend in the food world? Here are five of the most delicious meal delivery services in SF.
For 11 years chef Jan Birnbaum manned the kitchen at Epic Steak (formerly Epic Roasthouse). Two and a half years ago, Birnbaum left Epic to launch toGather, a meal kit company that supplies home cooks with dinners that simply have to be assembled. Birnbaum wants home cooks to gain confidence in the kitchen by cooking his easy-to-follow, hard-to-screw-up multi-course menus. There’s minimal cooking required — all you have to do is heat up a few components. For example, one recent dinner involved roasting rainbow carrots and warming a pot of velvety white bean soup. Within minutes, a scrumptious bowl of creamy soup with restaurant-like flavors and presentation is ready to be devoured. To reduce waste, all of the food comes in a reusable cooler. This week’s menu includes little gem salad with tomatoes, melon, and green goddess dressing; rock shrimp orecchiette pasta with rapini; marinated ranch hanger steak with oven-roasted kale and Yukon gold creamer potatoes; and butternut squash bread pudding with maple syrup and huckleberries.
2 Sun Basket
Before beginning Sun Basket, Justine Kelly was the head chef at Charles Phan’s James Beard award-winning restaurant, The Slanted Door. Today Kelly works closely with local farmers to bring the freshest, most seasonal ingredients into your kitchen. Sun Basket is farm-to-table food that’s fresher than what you’ll get in the grocery store. The produce is organic and non-GMO, the meat is responsibly-raised and hormone-free, and the seafood is sustainably sourced. Most of the meals take 30 minutes to prepare and if you’re not sure of the instructions on the card that comes in the Sun Basket box, you can refer to the website where there are online tutorials and videos. Those on a special diet will be happy to know that Sun Basket offers a variety of meal plans catered to the paleo, gluten-free, or vegetarian crowd. Next week Sun Basket is offering up the following meals: pork blade steaks with roasted sweet potatoes and red-pepper salsa; pan-seared steaks with artichoke butter and braised green beans; spinach risotto with fresh ricotta; and padang salmon with jade rice.
Worried about where all that food comes from? PlateJoy is the meal delivery service for you because with it, you do all of the grocery shopping. Here’s how it works: you take a quick online quiz that tells the PlateJoy folks how much time you have to cook, what ingredients you love, and what culinary gadgets you own. PlateJoy uses your answers to put together a meal plan that is specific to your diet and lifestyle needs. A grocery list is created and recipes are sent your way. You shop for the food to make PlateJoy’s breakfast, lunch, and dinners in the comforts of your own kitchen on your own time. If you don't feel like grocery shopping, you can sign up to use one of their affiliate grocery delivery services. Menu items include goat cheese omelet with avocado toast; curry chicken salad wrap with spiced chickpeas; and beef and broccoli stir-fry.
When you go to a restaurant, you order a meal and it takes 20 minutes or less to prepare, right? Well, Din hopes to recreate that restaurant experience in the home. Think of Din as your team of sous chefs. They prepare the majority of the dish in advance and all you have to do is add the finishing touches. The cool thing about Din is that the meals are dishes from actual restaurants. Want to learn how to make A16’s albacore tuna with wilted escarole, seared blood orange, and salsa verde? How about Reverb’s chitarra alla puttanesca with sturgeon conserva, squid ink, and green goddess dressing? With Din, you can!
5 The Purple Carrot
Mark Bittman left his job as a food writer and recipe developer at the New York Times to get involved with the health-minded team at The Purple Carrot. It’s the meal delivery kit service for people on a plant-based vegan diet. Often times cooking delicious vegan food takes time and hard-to-find ingredients. The Purple Carrot eliminates these issues by delivering the pre-measured, ultra-fresh plant-based meals to you door. Meals can be cooked in 45 minutes or less and you’ll learn the secrets to cooking tasty vegan food.