Mom-Approved Meal-Planning Services
The weeknight-dinner struggle is real, which is why three moms started meal-planning services to help you meet the challenge. Will they work for your family? Our staffers took them for a test-drive.
For the Farmers'-Market Aficionado
"I was at my son's baseball game, listening to other moms discuss what they were going to do for dinner," says founder Ali Hedin. "In that moment, I realized I could help my friends!" Make that 5,000 friends and counting, who use her app for menus full of seasonal ingredients, step-by-step photos, and grocery lists that let you check off items as you shop.
Our thoughts: "As someone who looks at pictures of food all day long, the pretty photos got me excited to cook. The fish taco recipe I made needed seasoning, but I appreciated how clear the instructions were."—Phoebe Flynn Rich, design director and mom of two
For Very Busy Couponers
The Dinner Daily
$18 for three months, $30 for six months, and $48 for a year; thedinnerdaily.com
Laurin Mills, a former CPA and a mother of three, got sick of scanning supermarket circulars to save on groceries, so she built software to do it for her. Her wizardly system comes up with a week's worth of menus based on sales in your area and your family's preferences, then spits out a shopping list. She estimates you'll save up to $1,200 a year.
Our thoughts: "I have limited time to cook during the week. This service has turned around our dinner routine—in a good way! The recipes are easy to follow, and my grocery bill has dropped. It's a keeper." –Tara Holland, food editorial assistant and mom of two
Ends + Stems
Founder Alison Mountford was stressed out by getting dinner ready fast and wasting food. "Because I'm a chef, people assumed dinner was easy at my house," she says. "Not the case! My daughter would have a meltdown if we didn't have food on the table by 6:15." To tackle both problems, Ends + Stems offers three main recipes and one "Waste Not" recipe using the bits left over at the end of the week, plus a grocery list organized by supermarket department.
Our thoughts: "My husband and I talk a lot about food waste (usually when we find a bag of desiccated carrots in the back of the crisper), so it's great to have a meal plan that focuses on using everything." —Nina Elder, executive food editor and mom of one