I’ve been intrigued by these companies for a while now, though there are none here in the UK, so I’m not sure how they would work in practice …
The idea is that you schedule a session to prepare a number of meals to be frozen at home, picking the meals from a monthly menu. The company prepares the ingredients for you in advance, you collate the ingredients, mix and prepare the meal, then package it up with cooking instructions – and drop it into your freezer when you get home.
The meal, here, usually means something like 12 meals to feed six, or 24 to feed 3. That’s quite a lot of freezer space needed, and I don’t suppose it’s cheap. But the benefits are no shopping, chopping or washing-up.
Now that is quite appealing. But how easy is it to create gluten free meals?
I’ve looked at 10 of these sites (links go to a menu for this month, June, where possible). All of them indicate that the meals can be customised, but this is usually accompanied by an example of more/less onion/chilli, not the rather broader customisation that might be needed for a special diet.
- Dream Dinners: offer to review ingredient lists with you, and to show the product labels to help you decide. The only one to mention cross-contamination
- Let’s Dish: FAQ says that all meals may be customised, but asks the customer with special requirements to review the menu and make their own choices
- Sayrelyn’s: no mention of food allergens
- Super Suppers: no guarantee that any food will be allergen-free, but will discuss the ingredients to help you decide
- My Girlfriend’s Kitchen: discusses lactose intolerance in the FAQ, but not wheat – it does say they would go through the menus with you, so I imagine they would do this for wheat too
- Dinner by Design: the clear winner here as they mark up which meals contain wheat
- Supper Thyme: no mention of special diets
- Supper Solutions: does have some indication of which meals are vegetarian, or exclude dairy, but not which are gluten free
- Let’s Eat Dinner: nutrition facts, but no discussion of special diets
- Gourmade Cookery: according to their FAQ, they’ll work with you to adjust any recipe to suit your dietary requirements.
A little more work needed on celiac awareness, perhaps. Dream Dinners or Dinner by Design look like the best options, as far as I can see, though obviously since these are set up as franchises, it may vary a little by location.
In theory, of course, I could dedicate a day or two at the beginning of the month to batch-cooking meals for the month, and then freeze them. Some people do this, and I can see that this would free up a lot of time later. But the best I’ve ever managed, is to cook twice as much as we need for a meal, and freeze half. Then, of course, it gets forgotten in the freezer …