With today’s busy lifestyles, dinner sometimes takes a backseat to work, long commutes, and kids’ schedules. When UberEats suddenly becomes the most-used app on your phone, and your favorite pizzeria is on speed dial, perhaps it’s time to consider one of the many local, chef-driven meal delivery services. Fully prepared meals delivered right to your doorstep that require simple heating are only a click away.
Fairfielder Tina Connelly began her career as a culinary student at Johnson & Wales University, and worked as a private chef during college. She later moved into catering, and cooked for a few dinner parties at the home of film director Ron Howard. There, she got to know his friends, who asked if they could hire her to create meals for their families. In 2000, she launched Tina’s Gourmet Kitchen which now delivers all over Fairfield County. “The fact that families gather around the dinner table and have face time eating my dinners,” she says, “there’s nothing better.” Tina posts a new weekly menu every Friday, and delivers on Tuesdays and Thursdays. “My food is clean and healthy, with only fresh organic ingredients, when at all possible,” she explains. As a mom of two boys, she is also careful to make sure the meals are family-friendly.
Simply Local is the creation of French Culinary Institute trained chef, Lauren Peden, who has owned Simply Delicious Catering in Norwalk since 2009. “We started Simply Local, just over three years ago,” says Chef Lauren. “I learned that there is a great need for busy families to have a healthy alternative for dinner besides the traditional, and often less nutritious, take out.” The menu varies weekly and is published each Sunday, and clients place orders online and choose their delivery day. Soups, salads, sides, entrées, baked goods, and weekend entertaining platters are all available, as well as kid-friendly options. “Our menus are seasonal, and we create recipes based on what is available at the local farmers market,” Chef Lauren explains.
“We work closely with the farmers at the Westport Farmers Market, and we always try to include vegetarian options, along with gluten- and dairy-free options.” Chef Lauren works closely with her mom, Tracy, a baker. “There is some serious love in the items she prepares.” It is clear that Simply Local is a labor of love for the mother-daughter duo: “I love being able to offer a healthier fresh alternative to the traditional take out. I love our endlessly changing menu; it keeps things interesting,” says Lauren.
Danielle Munk started her culinary career as the head chef at a retirement home for Catholic priests, but it was at a series of baby showers where the idea for her Wilton-based business was born.
Chef Danielle became known for the “freezer meals” she gives as gifts to the moms-to-be, and with the encouragement of friends and family, she created Dinner is at the Door in 2016. “Once my kids were born, I needed something more flexible,” she explains. The menu changes weekly and is posted on her Dinner is at the Door Facebook page every Friday. Clients order three to five meals to be delivered to their home the following Friday. All meals arrive fully prepared and frozen, ready to stock your freezer for the week. Simple directions to heat in the oven, stove-top, or grill are included. Chef Danielle’s slow cooker meals are among the most popular, and are made to dump and go. “I love knowing that people are having a home cooked meal instead of take out or processed foods,” she says.
Pricing ranges from approximately $25 to $60 per meal for a family of four, depending on the entrée and any included side dishes. All the companies deliver throughout Fairfield County, and some have a minimal delivery charge and/or food minimum. For busy families, these meal delivery services can be game-changers.
Need dinner on the fly? Swing by Testo’s Greenfield Hill Market for their Family Style Dinner to go. It feeds four to five people and includes pasta, an entrée, a salad, four meatballs, garlic knots, and a beverage for under $40. Centro also has a similar option with pasta, sauce, and salad, $29.95 to feed four.