By Emily Paster
One of my goals in writing West of the Loop is to encourage people to cook more. For enthusiastic, confident cooks, I hope to provide some ideas and inspiration, including some information on new and unfamiliar ingredients. For those who are less confident in the kitchen, I want to make cooking seem more accessible. I know that for many people, cooking is more of a chore and a burden than a source of joy and creative expression, as it is for me.
But even those who view cooking as a chore want to provide healthy and tasty meals for their families. We all have to eat! So when I learn about a product or a service that makes putting dinner on the table easier and more convenient for people, I want to share that information. That is why I was excited to learn about Meez Meals, a Chicago-area meal delivery service that makes it easy and convenient to put a home-cooked meal on the table any night of the week.
Meez Meals is unique in that it allows the customer to choose from a weekly menu of five meals. Pick as many or as few of the meals as you want. The ingredients and cooking instructions for the meals that you choose are delivered to your doorstep. Everything is measured and prepared. Then, at your convenience, you follow the recipe to create a delicious meal from scratch. No processed foods — just home cooking without all the menu planning, shopping or prep work.
I had the opportunity to try out Meez Meals' service a few weeks ago. I selected three meals: Caprese Bread Pudding, Campanelle in Creamy Goat Cheese Sauce and Cheesy Tomatillo Casserole. (You may notice that these meals are all vegetarian. In fact, Meez Meals only creates vegetarian entrees, which enables them to keep the cost more affordable. Many of the meals can be altered to include meat if you are so inclined. But I like the fact that the meals are vegetarian; it encourages healthy eating and creativity.) All the ingredients and recipes for the meals arrived at my door on Monday afternoon. I got to choose which meal to cook on which night and I could cook them at my convenience. Some, such as the tomatillo casserole, I even prepared in advance and then baked shortly before dinner time.
The week that my Meez Meals were delivered was a particularly busy week for us and it was so nice to know that three dinners were taken care of! No shopping, no prep work, just 20-30 minutes of cooking, and dinner was done. And all of the dishes were extremely tasty. The only complaint I had was that the portions were a little small for our large appetites. I had ordered the two-serving meals and it was not quite enough for me and my husband. Maybe we should be a little concerned about that! That being said, the four-serving meal is only $5 more per meal, so that seems like the better deal. You could even end up with leftovers for lunch.
Speaking of pricing, Meez Meals strikes me as very affordable, especially compared to take-out or prepared meals. Three four-serving meals is $80, which breaks down to less than $30 per meal, and five four-serving meals is $110. They even have six-serving meals for big families.
I will not avail myself of Meez Meals' service on a regular basis for the simple reason that I love to plan my meals and create them myself. Plus, I have the luxury of having time in the week to shop and cook. But I think that Meez Meals' service is a terrific idea for those who don't relish these tasks and who are pressed for time. I love the idea that Meez Meals is making it easier for busy parents and professionals to actually cook for themselves and their families instead of relying on take-out and prepared foods. For someone who feels a little uneasy in the kitchen, Meez Meals' service is a terrific way to build confidence and gain skills. The recipes are easy to follow and will soon have even the most timid cook whisking and sautéeing with gusto. Plus, the recipes are inventive enough that you won't get bored and you may even find yourself sampling some new foods.
If you think you might like to try Meez Meals for yourself, I have a great deal. You can get $20 off your first order if you mention that you read about Meez Meals on West of the Loop. Meez Meals is based in Evanston and they have a twenty-five mile delivery range, so that includes most of the Chicago metropolitan area inclusing Oak Park and River Forest.
Full disclosure time: I received my three Meez Meals free of charge for purposes of this review. I have not received any additional compensation from Meez Meals. As always, all opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.