The answer to, "What’s for dinner?" may be fresh, home-delivered, farm-sourced, pre-measured meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, and it may be sitting out on the porch right now.

The answer to, "What’s for dinner?" may be fresh, home-delivered, farm-sourced, pre-measured meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, and it may be sitting out on the porch right now.


Texomans who order from an online subscription meal service know exactly what’s for dinner, and when it will be delivered, which saves them from standing in line at the grocery store after a long, busy day. Instead, they may be unpacking Asian tuna stir fry with recipe-sized bottles of soy sauce and heirloom tomato flatbread with prosciutto and pesto.


No food goes to waste because all the ingredients needed for each recipe come packed in a big, insulated cardboard box, with ice packs to keep fresh foods cool. And step-by-step instructions with photos lead cooks easily through every recipe, including those created by famous chefs like Jaime Oliver and Mark Bittman.


April Blount, of Bells, is cooking for a family. She has used Blue Apron.


"I like to cook, but got into a rut making stuff over and over," she said. "So when I saw a commercial I decided to try it. To me, it’s worth the price, especially if you have kids because you don’t have to go to the grocery store. And it brought my husband from outside by the grill and into the kitchen chopping. At first the kids were hesitant, but now they ask, ‘When can we eat healthy again?’"


New cooks, gourmet cooks, organic cooks and no-cooks are unpacking breakfasts, lunches and dinners all over the country, and some foreign countries as well. Most meal services, including HelloFresh, Chef’d, Plated, PeachDish and Home Chef, are designed for people who enjoy cooking more than shopping for ingredients, and most recipes can be prepared in 30 minutes, from box to table.


Orders are placed online where all services generally offer meals packed for 2 people or 4 people, and most ship meals for 2, 3, or 4 days per week with shipping costs included in the price, which varies between $9 and $15 per person, per meal. Subscriptions can be stopped temporarily or canceled without penalty.


Maeghan Gannon, of Whitesboro, is cooking for two adults. She likes Home Chef because, "when I go to the grocery store I buy stuff I don’t need and this saves me time and money instead of going to restaurants. I thought cooking wasn’t in my genes, but I can definitely do it."


Rich De Nardis, chief revenue officer at Home Chef, said the subscription meal service industry, "came out of nowhere in the last few years." He said his company provides more variety than their competition, with 13 different items offered each week. "And every week we include a customer favorite, like Parisian bistro chicken."


Rebecca Lewis, registered in-house dietitian at HelloFresh said, "I review all recipes before they make it onto the menu, and make sure they meet the nutritional guidelines set. We include full nutrition panels on our boxes, recipe cards and website for complete transparency, including allergens."


HelloFresh designs its packaging to keep food fresh in the box for 36 hours, which is a plus for the 80 percent of its customers who are not at home when their box arrives. But when they open it, every single ingredient needed to prepare each meal they ordered is included, except the salt and pepper most people keep on hand. Other flavorings such hoisin sauce and jerk seasoning, fresh lemon grass and ginger root are in the box.


Lewis summarized the goal of HelloFresh, and likely the other subscription meal services as, "…getting people back in the kitchen cooking from scratch at home."