By Lorrie Baumann
Terra’s Kitchen is one of those meal kit delivery services that have been springing up all over the country, and while it’s only just over a year old, it’s taking off nationally by offering convenience, freshness and flexibility to busy individuals with a wide range of dietary requirements and concerns about the environmental sustainability of their choices. “We know that there are many different ways to eat in a healthy manner,” said Michael McDevitt, the company’s CEO. “We’re meeting the needs of many different types of consumers.”
McDevitt started the business just 19 months ago. “I got the news that I was becoming a father, and I wanted to do everything I could do to reinvent the childhood I had growing around the table, which seemed to have fallen off,” he said. “People are just so busy today.”
“We exist to connect family and friends back around the dinner table. That’s why we are here,” he continued.
The company has four pillars to its brand: health, talk, balance and convenience. Recipes for the meals are developed as a cooperation between the company’s Creative Culinary Director, Libbie Summers, and its Director of Nutrition, Dr. Lisa Davis, PhD, PA-C, CNS, to ensure that they’re both tasty and nutritious, and variety is a key, with more than 40 seasonal offerings on the company’s website at any given time. Customers can filter the menu offerings according to several dietary regimes so that the choices they’re offered meet their own needs, whether that’s Paleo, vegetarian, gluten-free or just generally nutrition-conscious. Most of the meal choices are priced between $10 and $15 per serving.
Ingredients for the meals are prechopped and packaged for shipment in a reusable vessel that the consumer unpacks at home and then puts back outside for pickup the next day by the same service that delivered it. The vessel is delivered back to Terra’s Kitchen, where it’s sanitized and reused. There’s no outer box or gel packs to make the kind of excessive packaging waste that many critics of meal delivery services have pointed out as a conflict with environmental sustainability. Individual ingredient items, organic or non-GMO when possible, are packaged in recyclable plastic containers – 4-inch by 4-inch plastic boxes of the kind that consumers are used to seeing as packaging for deli salads in their supermarkets. Consumers may recycle the plastic containers either by returning them to the vessel to be delivered back to Terra’s Kitchen or putting them into their own municipal collection, or they often find other ways to use the containers, McDevitt said. The minimal packaging drops the amount of packaging waste for a Terra’s Kitchen delivery to about 8 ounces per week, or about 25 pounds per year, which compares to about 450 pounds a year for some of the company’s competitors.
Along with every meal, as part of the company’s brand pillars, the customer gets a table talk topic that’s designed to spark conversation. Topics range from light-hearted philosophical questions to nutrition information about the actual meal the consumer is eating. “We do what we can to spark conversations around the table,” McDevitt said. “We have a lot of fun helping table talk.”
The company’s focus on balance and convenience means that every meal offered can be prepared in less than 30 minutes. McDevitt says this reflects that the company is conscious of the time and effort needed to prepare a healthy meal and aware that its customers are looking for help managing both their time and their nutrition. “Everybody knows how they should be eating, but it’s very difficult to take those steps,” McDevitt said. “We take the majority of the prep work out of the meal by sending everybody pre-cut ingredients.”
Terra’s Kitchen ships from both the East and West Coasts to cover the entire nation. Subscribers order weekly meal deliveries for up to four or five weeks. They can to go back and alter their choices ahead of each shipping date, and they can choose the days of the week on which they’d like their shipments to arrive. “The benefit is that you can do all of your meal planning for a month in a 10-minute sitting,” McDevitt said.
The average customer is likely to order two or three dinners and two or three grab-and-go items to pack for office lunches. Terra’s Kitchen does not yet offer traditional breakfast items. The company requires a minimum $65 order for each shipment. “You’re signing up for meals to come in the container, which comes in a weekly basis, but you can skip weeks and only have it come on the weeks that you want it,” McDevitt said. “We are very much aware of our clientele. The most typical consumer is a busy, two-income family with young children, both working, both very busy. We’re also having tremendous success in the empty nester market as well, those people who have time on their hands and are just looking for a more convenient way to gather around the table together for dinner – other than going out to dinner.”
He added that, “It started for the purpose of helping families getting together around the table, and we’re having tremendous success with that.”
Nurture Life, the first and only subscription meal delivery service focused specifically on children, launches nationally this November. Created to serve time-pressed parents while meeting the evolving nutritional needs of growing kids, Nurture Life offers fresh, wholesome, organic, ready-to-eat meals delivered weekly, straight to the consumer’s door. The innovative service is designed for babies, toddlers and kids from six months to 18 years of age.
“Nurture Life fundamentally changes mealtime for busy families,” said Nurture Life Co-Founder Jennifer Chow. “Quick and easy often means compromises, especially when it comes to food. Nurture Life offers parents an alternative to hours spent cooking or tradeoffs in the quality and healthiness of frozen or takeout meals. We’re excited to offer parents time and peace of mind with our healthy, wholesome and convenient meals created for parents who want the best for their kids.”
Founded by tech-industry veterans and parents themselves, Steven Minisini and Jennifer Chow, Nurture Life was born out of their personal challenge to promote healthy eating for their kids while juggling busy schedules. With the guidance of the company’s culinary team and pediatric dietitian, the service incorporates the highest quality produce, proteins and ingredients into each meal. Organic and locally sourced, whenever possible, Nurture Life meals never include peanuts, tree nuts or shellfish and are free of artificial ingredients, refined sugars, trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. To eliminate cross-contamination on the most common allergies, meals are prepared, cooked and packaged on-site in Nurture Life’s state-of-the-art Chicago production facility.
Offering flexible plans that grow with families, Nurture Life’s unique subscription platform provides the convenience to configure and scale meal selections to fit a family’s needs over time. With multiple weekly plan options, including eight or 14 meals for babies and five or 10 meals for toddlers and kids, the service’s prices range from $45 to $119 per week. All meals are cooked and portioned based on the child’s age and nutritional needs, with weekly menu rotations featuring seasonal choices, as well as classic favorites so that kids can experience a variety of tastes and ingredients. Nurture Life delivers a week’s worth of meals tailored to the child’s feeding stage, such as Butternut Squash Puree for babies just starting solids, Pear, Apple, Quinoa & Cinnamon Puree for babies ready for combination purees and Salmon, English Peas, Golden Potato & Dill finger foods for babies learning to feed themselves. Toddlers and kids can enjoy Chicken Tenders, Mashed Yams & French Green Beans, Teriyaki Salmon over Brown Rice and Spinach Stuffed Gnocchi with Turkey Bolognese. Each order is packaged in an insulated box to maintain freshness. Meals are delivered cold, never frozen and simply need to be stored in the refrigerator until reheating.
A time and stress-saving solution for families of all shapes and sizes, Nurture Life takes the pressure and guesswork out of planning and cooking meals. Headquartered in Chicago, Nurture Life ships to the Midwest and East Coast, including major cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Dallas and Atlanta.
Kettlebell Kitchen, the New York City meal service with a focus on healthy eating, will launch home delivery this coming December. Founded in 2013 by former Army officers Joe and Andy Lopez-Gallego, and Chef Greg Grossman, Kettlebell Kitchen meals are currently available for pickup at 300+ gyms and fitness studios across the Tri-State area. The expansion will introduce Kettlebell Kitchen’s personalized, nutrition-driven meals to a wider set of consumers. Co-founder Chef Greg Grossman [OREYA Restaurant, recipient of an “Excellent” rating by The New York Times] will continue to innovate menu offerings and expand Kettlebell Kitchen’s verticals for healthy eating, weight loss, muscle gain, and sports performance.
“We know how stressed and busy New Yorkers can be. By providing one-on-one nutritional support and cutting out shopping, cooking, and cleaning time, we are bringing them a new level of convenience,” notes Co-Founder Andy Lopez-Gallego.
Kettlebell Kitchen provides consumers an opportunity to eat a variety of flavorful meals that help them reach their dietary goals. Every member of the program works with an advising nutritionist, who helps curate an experience that offers immediate results. Co-Founder and Chef Greg Grossman ensures the selection of offerings (including breakfast, lunch, and dinner) are high quality, featuring seasonal ingredients and chef-level preparations—engineered to fuel the body and provide energy and nutritional value.
“There’s a common misconception that healthy or fitness-geared food shouldn’t taste good. By using high quality proteins and fresh produce, we are debunking the myth,” says Greg Grossman.