Are Meal Delivery Services Right for You?

Jason DeRusha tests two local meal delivery services: Homegrown Foods and Local Crate
Jason DeRusha, Local Crate
Local Crate meal delivery service. Photos by Jason DeRusha

Remember when Let’s Dish was all the rage? It’s still around—those storefronts where you assemble a bunch of meals, freeze them, and then have food for your family for a month. But now, home meal delivery services are the new Let’s Dish.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve put a couple of the new ones to the test: Homegrown Foods and Local Crate. Here’s what you need to know.

Local Crate, Homegrown foods, Twin Cities, meal delivery

They’re not cheap
The two meal delivery services I tested cost between $8 per serving to $13.50 per serving. If you have a family of four, you’re spending $32-$54 dollars on a dinner you have to make.

They take time
You have to chop the vegetables, mince the garlic, and do most of the prep work. Including cook time, some of my meals took nearly two hours from start to finish. Some took more like 40 minutes. That’s tough for a lot of people.

The ingredients are fresh; the food is delicious
Overall I really enjoyed the recipes and the dinners. We saw Red Table meats included in the Local Crate meals, local produce and sustainable meat in both Local Crate and Homegrown. This is quality stuff.

They’re subscription services
Both meal delivery services provide weekly deliveries, so you might pick out two meals a week for nights you don’t have to shuttle kids to soccer or dance practice. It’s easy to cancel, and you get to select from a menu of meals they deliver.

This is grocery shopping with meal planning
The recipes are easy to follow. Homegrown gives a prep sheet and do-ahead tips for getting ahead, and Local Crate’s recipes come with beautiful photographs. Both define cooking terms and are useful teaching tools for relatively inexperienced cooks.

I loved how you’d get enough of a certain ingredient for the recipe, saving you from buying a full-sized ingredient from the store that you might throw away. Many spice blends were premixed, so you just dumped that into the recipe. That was cool.

Local Crate had a delicious clam chowder and we loved the meatballs with pancetta and kale on cauliflower rice. But they included an entire head of cauliflower, which I grated into little “rice.” Is that too much work for someone spending $12-$13 a serving on dinner? Maybe.

Homegrown Foods provided ingredients for a solid scallops dish on dried scallop noodles, and a very good deep-dish pizza. But I would have spent $32 to make my own deep dish pizzas.

Jason DeRusha, Twin Cities, deep dish, pizza

Is it worth it?
It might be! If you don’t mind grocery shopping, meal delivery is a tremendous waste of money. If you’re intrigued by grocery delivery services like Simon Delivers, or you spend a lot of money getting take-out delivered, this is a good option to make great meals.

Honestly, I enjoyed the convenience of not having to worry about gathering all the ingredients and looking up a recipe. It’s so cool to have this stuff arrive at home, and know that you’re making your family good, wholesome, real food.

I think there’s a strong future in home delivery of meals and groceries: Do you think one of these local companies has set the bar for this new trend?

After seeing this blog, Local Crate wants to give MNMO readers a discount. Use code DERUSHAEATS to get 50% off your first order (any size) and give Local Crate a try.