ready-meal-delivery-services-chicago-cooked

Cooked's Stuffed Acorn Squash (Photos courtesy of each service.)

Your intentions are good. You’ve signed up for a make-at-home meal delivery service but that meeting/rehearsal/practice went late, and you don’t really have time to put it all together. You still want to eat a real meal but don’t want to resort to fast food or spend an hour at a restaurant. What to do?

Enter meal delivery service at the touch of a button (more or less). There are services available where you can order — STAT! — from your favorite restaurants, others where you order an hour ahead. But you can also have healthy, chef-prepared meals delivered to your home or office, and all you have to do is pop them in the microwave to heat. It’s about convenience, sure, but also about getting what you want, when you want it. And what’s so bad about that?

Customized Meal Delivery Services 

Cooked

Chef Jona Silva and his staff cook with love; you can taste it in every dish. Cooked delivers freshly prepared, restaurant-quality meals with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, ready to take to work or school, or to reheat at home. They’ve recently moved their facilities from Evanston to Chicago and acquired Chefmade, another local meal delivery company. Prices are reasonable ($3.95–$12.95 for individual items), and there are breakfast, lunch and dinner choices available. My favorites include the Chimichurri Flank Steak with Root Veggies and Caramelized Pearl Onions, and the Acorn Squash stuffed with Italian Turkey Sausage, Brown Rice, Apples and Walnuts. Fresh-pressed juices ($5-$7) are also available, and each week they have a few kid’s entrees. Meal packages are available, as are dairy- and gluten-free options, as well as vegan and paleo. The service feels very personal. There is a $4.25 flat delivery fee. 

Eat Purely 

ready-meal-delivery-services-chicago-eat-purely

Eat Purely’s Moroccan Chicken

Though the delivery area for this chef-driven service is limited to a subsection of Chicago, they do deliver in 20 minutes. The menu changes daily; you might see Coconut-Glazed Salmon with Sesame-Marinated Eggplant and White Miso Vinaigrette ($12), Venetian Chicken with Prosciutto, Marinated Tomatoes and Polenta ($10) or Ginger Raspberry Tea ($5). Full nutritional breakdowns are available for every order. There are always allergy- and diet-conscious options. Executive Chef Sean Spradlin is a Chicago restaurant vet (Hot Chocolate, The Bedford, Carriage House, Girl & The Goat) who focuses on sustainable, local product sourcing. (App ONLY, but accessible online through their website)

Factor 75

After working with a personal chef, founder/CEO Nick Wernimont discovered the importance of balanced nutrition. He wanted to build a company that allowed people to spend more time with family, to eat better and to live better. The company claims that using “Factor 75 is like hiring a personal chef and nutritionist;” well-balanced, organic, chef-prepared meals delivered weekly. You can choose from six, eight, 12 or 18 meals per week ($77-$198), which could include Horseradish-Crusted Salmon with Couscous; Spaghetti Bolognese; or perhaps Pot Roast with Roasted Veggies. You create a “personal taste profile,” they will suggest a menu, and then you can swap things around if you’d like. Delivery charge is based on your location; they deliver meals in refrigerated boxes so you don’t need to be home. 

The Green Gourmet Chicago

This delivery service offers three different meal plans: the Classic (healthy and tasty meals based on the 40/30/30 nutrition recommendations of 40 percent carbs, 30 percent lean protein and 30 percent healthy fats); Paleo (nutrient-dense, “caveman” foods) and Special Order (tailored to your health concerns, like diabetic, gluten-free, vegetarian). You can opt for “Just Dinner” ($20.95 per day), go whole hog with breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks daily ($43.95), or anything in between. Delivery is free, and will arrive at night, individually packed, to your door (don’t worry, they leave it in a cooler). There is a nutrition coach who will work with you one-on-one. 

Pak’d

ready-meal-delivery-services-chicago-pak'd

Pak’d’s Quinoa Lunch

This adorable startup was founded by three Highland Park parents (Kara O’Dempsey, Nate Cooper and Rebecca Sholiton) who saw a need for delicious and healthy school lunches that would keep kids involved and interested — plus make parents’ lives stress-free. They focus on responsibly sourced, quality ingredients to accommodate dietary needs and preferences. All offerings are nut-free; there are also gluten-free and vegetarian options available. The lunch might include Roasted Chicken Caprese Salad, melon chunks, baby carrots and celery with yogurt ranch dip and a pumpkin-chocolate chip muffin. Have a fussy eater? All packs can be customized. Kid’s lunches are $6.50 each; there’s a flat delivery fee of $3.

Restaurant Delivery Services 

Amazon PrimeNow

Remember when Amazon was just for books? Times have changed. If you’re an Amazon Prime member (and why wouldn’t you be?) you know how crazy fast the delivery service can be. Most items are delivered within 24 hours, from car parts, to olive oil to diapers. Impressive! But they do it one better with their (relatively) new food delivery service. In Chicago, there are currently 36 restaurants participating, from Evanston’s La Macchina Café to Opart Thai in Chicago. Two-hour delivery is free; one-hour delivery is $7.99. (App available)

DoorDash

Another restaurant delivery service, DoorDash will deliver within an hour from a wide range of eateries. Delivery fees range from $1.99 to $6.99 depending on location; vegetarian stalwart Blind Faith, California Pizza Kitchen, L. Woods Tap and Naan on Devon are examples of available restaurants; I will also point out that (ahem!) numerous fast food options are available as well. (App available)

Groupon To-Go 

Did you hear that Groupon has gotten into the food delivery game? Well, now you know. Choices tend to be largely ethnic restaurants, and pickings are sparse the father afield you go from Chicago, and don’t expect any bargains. Some places have delivery minimums (i.e. Evanston’s Dozika has a $15 minimum and a $2 delivery charge). 

GrubHub 

This one’s the granddaddy of restaurant delivery services. Type in your location, and the participating restaurants in your area will pop up for ordering purposes. Location-sensitive delivery fees seem to range from zero to $5 per order, and they have the most extensive offerings with tons of restos to choose from. Some places do have a minimum order requirement, but this service allows restaurants to outsource delivery, or at least supplement it and extend their reach. If you live in Chicago, your options expand dramatically and include hot spots like Bar Toma, Kuma’s Too, Sunda and Fig & Olive. (App available) 

UberEATS 

I was surprised to find that they are now delivering to the North Shore; when they started it was Chicago only. But a number of popular local restaurants have signed on, including KOI, Patisserie Coralie, and Farmhouse Evanston. For Evanston, quoted delivery times ranged from 29 to 54 minutes. Delivery fee is $4.99. (App available)

Drink UP!

And don’t forget the adult beverages! Drizly (app available) will deliver your booze of choice (for emergency cocktail parties, book group and more) in an hour or less, with no price markup. Thank the Lord and pass the tequila.


More from Make It Better: