The Home Food-Delivery Smackdown

We compare two meal-delivery services for when even take-out is too much work.



 

WHAT’S FOR DINNER TONIGHT?: Mahi Mahi with pineapple salsa, just delivered from Nu-Kitchen

 

In a world packed with ever-easier dining options, from microwaveable entrées to pizza delivery, there is still a significant problem for lazy diners: every evening, they still have to decide what’s for dinner.

Two services are trying to eliminate that stress. Nu-Kitchen (877-971-6475), a Manhattan-based meal-delivery service patronized by such celebs as Sarah Jessica Parker, has extended its reach into Southern Westchester. Nu-Kitchen’s opponent, Dinner in Hand (914-380-5084), is a New Rochelle-based company that promises fresh and tasty dinners delivered directly to your door. Dinner in Hand offers only evening meals, while Nu-Kitchen provides its subscribers with a whole day of thought-free nutrients.

We sampled both services for an action-packed week away from the stove and here’s what we’ve found.

Nu-Kitchen

Pros: Nu-Kitchen’s “smartly portioned” meals, rich in whole grains and lean proteins, take the thinking out of eating right. We loved that when we woke up, we were greeted by a perfectly reasonable breakfast of yogurt, muesli, and fresh fruit without having to devote a single brain cell to the meal. With a daily plan, consisting of three squares and two snacks, you can rest knowing that your eating decisions for the day are already made. And, as Nu-Kitchen promises, if you stick to its plan, you will lose weight. Jazzy coolers are left outside your door nightly between 10 pm and 6 am—no need to answer a doorbell or be at home at a certain time. Workaholics even can have their meals delivered at work. This is the ideal choice for super-busy diners who nurture their gorgeous, lean bodies more than their appetites.

 

Cons: With food left overnight in cooler packs, there is a certain lifeless, airplane-meal aspect to these plastic containers of nutrients. “Smartly portioned” meals can mean “stingy”; it would be tough for an active person to avoid off-plan snacks. And, annoyingly, this plan generates a profusion of non-recyclable take-out containers, which just feels evil.

Cost: It’s $42 per day for women and $45.50 for men. The cost difference is explained by the different nutritional requirements of the two genders—men receive three (rather than two) snacks.

Photo by Bob Buchanan

ANOTHER COOK-FREE DIN-DIN: Lentil burgers with mango chutney from Dinner in Hand

Dinner in Hand

Pros: We found this food generously portioned, seasonally appropriate, and very appealing. During one of the more miserable weeks in August, we were thrilled to open our bag and find a bountiful, cooling supper of salad niçoise with grilled shrimp, a ripe tomato-and-basil salad, and chilled citrus-roasted salmon with dill rémoulade. On another sultry day, a refreshing quart of gazpacho was the reward, crisp and spicy and just what we wanted. Dinner in Hand offers lusty portions, with separate containers of starches and veggies like wild rice pilaf and seasonal veggies. The service recycles its plastic containers, which helps keep subscribers’ clutter down, and Dinner in Hand composts its kitchen waste at New Rochelle’s Ward Acres. Plus, with Dinner in Hand, you’re paying only for the meal that matters. After all, you can always grab a bowl of cereal in the morning, and a salad at work, without having to pay a middleman.

Cons: Subscribers must be home to answer the door for deliveries.

Cost: Entrée costs vary, but ours ranged between $13.50 and $15.95 and came complete with generous side dishes. Desserts and soups, like that fabulous quart of gazpacho for $7.95, can be ordered separately.

Winner

Dinner in Hand, though with this caveat: I am a restaurant critic and not too interested in healthy eating—delicious, vibrant food is my primary concern. Thus, I can see how Nu-Kitchen would be a huge boon for body-conscious diners who are less fastidious about flavor than I.