Prime Time Living - Page 14 - Easy Eats

Prime Time Living
- Page 14
Easy Eats
Eat healthier and reduce waste with meal delivery kits

By Margit B. Weisgal, Contributing Writer

Before Gordon Langerman underwent an operation, his doctor had him stop drinking and, post-op, put him on the Whole30 diet. This meant eliminating what was previously a staple: processed foods. Over a couple years, he had gotten away from cooking with fresh ingredients and depended on frozen dinners or eating out. He needed to jump-start a healthier way to eat.

Nell Evans is not a great cook. When she was diagnosed with celiac disease, it forced her to eliminate gluten from everything she ingested. Since she worked full-time, she needed a way to get a good meal on the table that didn’t require a lot of effort.

Both found an easy solution with Terra’s Kitchen, a meal kit delivery program based here in Baltimore and available nationally. Even though it offers “regular” meals and recipes, it also provides solutions for those with dietary restrictions. And it’s more than dinner. Terra’s Kitchen can provide breakfasts, lunches, snacks, sides, salads, smoothies and more.

It also does all the preparation for you, not just some of it. Your only requirements are to set the table, spend 15-30 minutes putting the ingredients together – every item is fresh, sustainably sourced, organic from locals farmers where possible, washed, measured, and chopped – and, then, eating.

Langerman liked his options when he went to the website ( www.terraskitchen.com ) to place his first order. He scanned the dietary preferences – Paleo, low-calorie, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, weight loss or low-carb – and then selected Whole30 and his choice of proteins: chicken, beef, fish, lamb, bison, pork or tofu. Based on principles of the Mediterranean diet, there are always lots of different menu choices.

“All the recipes were tasty and easy to prepare,” says Langerman. “I like eating, but the goal was to change how and what I ate, not just grabbing the first whatever I had around. It also gave me ideas for when I cook for myself, like appropriate portion sizes and what ingredients work well together. Best of all, there was no waste. I used up each bit.”

One of Terra’s Kitchen’s goals is to eliminate waste, so it created a customized, climate-controlled delivery container that holds everything you order at a safe temperature. Once it arrives, you transfer all the ingredients to your refrigerator and the box is picked up the next day. Each container is used over 100 times, so no ice packs are tossed into the garbage, no packaging waste trashed. Based on its research, there’s a 2,000 percent reduction in waste.

Another benefit is you choose when you order. You can skip meals or skip weeks to fit around your schedule, so you can stop and start deliveries based on your timetable. Evans appreciated that especially. “My work schedule can be erratic, so I may work weekends or evenings. Usually, I know in advance, so I set up deliveries for the days I’m home.” She also found the directions easy to follow. And all its customers give Terra’s Kitchen rave reviews.

Are there other companies out there that offer ready-to-cook meals? Of course, and there are more start-ups every day. In addition to companies that specialize in creating ready-to-cook meal deliveries, Amazon and Walmart are getting in on the trend. Some of the businesses are starting to buy out each other to expand available options, such as the different diets people want. One company translates each meal into Weight Watcher points, or you can find one for the Atkins meal plan, an American Diabetes Association meal plan and a New York Times Cooking meal plan. Looking for only plant-based meals? Yes, that’s available. Want to eat like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady? His performance meals, available through Purple Carrot, support Brady’s eating philosophy. One company also offers cooking tools and gadgets (no, not Amazon).

No matter which company you choose, you’re actually being smart. Recent articles cite the enormous amount of food Americans throw away each year. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, “food waste is estimated at between 30 to 40 percent of the food supply.” This equals 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food. In 2015, the USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency joined forces to help reduce this waste. To make this personal, according to the EPA, a family of four wastes about $1,600 each year in unused food.

Waste comes from our predilection to buy only “perfect” fruits and vegetables. We shun anything with blemishes or bruises, even if they are fine. Then there’s the amount left in fields unharvested and what grocery stores toss. At each step from the farmer to your home – packagers, wholesalers and truckers – there is more loss. Worldwide, the numbers are just as bad.

When you choose to order from a meal delivery service, even though you may think the prices are more than you’d usually spend to produce a healthy meal for you and/or your family, you’re saving in the long run. And Terra’s Kitchen is an excellent option. •