Busy parents often don’t have time to make healthy meals for their children. And store-bought baby food, even that billed as organic, isn’t as nutritious as advertised. Those are the two premises fueling the recent surge in subscription-based, baby food delivery services across the country over the past two years.
Essentially following in the footsteps of established ready-to-eat (or ready-to-make) meal services for grownups such as Blue Apron and Plated, these new startups are focusing on supplying harried young parents with organic baby food and healthy meals for kids. And they operate in much the same manner: You pick the number of jars of pureed food you don’t want to buy at the grocery store, whether said jars should contain, say, beets, peas, or a tasty blend of both, and how often they show up at your door. The companies source all the food, do all the prep, and ship you an insulated, ice-packed box (usually weekly). Your blender, as it probably does anyway, stays on the shelf.
Most of these new startups serve a specific city or region, so their delivery area is limited geographically, but a couple are either national in scope or planning to expand in the near future. One, Yumi, actually launched in California today (Yea, it’s a hot market). Several, such as NYC-based Nurturie, have already gone out of business (Also a tough one). That said, here are six that are going strong and one that’s about to start shipping soon.
Sort of like hiring a live-in personal chef but without the tax implications, Nurture Life is a Chicago-based, food delivery service that prepares organic meals for kids ages six months to 18 years. Plans are broken down by age: Babies (6, 8, & 10 months), Toddlers (1 to 3 years old), and Kids (4 to 8, 9 to 13, 14+). And you can order as few as five meals per week or as many as 14 ⏤ prices range from $45 to $119 ⏤ from either their Chef’s Choice/Seasonal menu (which changes weekly) or their Favorites menu (which doesn’t). Meals include everything from ground beef and carrot puree to steamed Norwegian salmon, English peas, golden potato, and dill … for your 10-month-old! Dinners arrive cold-but-not-frozen and are ready to reheat and serve. They last seven days in the fridge and come stamped with an “Eat-By” date, so you don’t accidentally serve month-old meatloaf.
Delivers to: Chicago and Select East Coast Cities
Launching today in California, LA-based Yumi is the brainchild of a former investment banker and business journalist concerned with the development of, well, children’s brains. In fact, it’s billed as a “science-based meal delivery service” that uses organic, nutrient-rich ingredients to support a baby’s mind in the their formative first thousand days. Their opening menu includes single ingredient purees (carrots, black beans, broccoli, etc.) and exotic multi-ingredient blends like sweet potato, red bell pepper, apple, chard, and quinoa. They’re low in sugar, free of all the stuff kids are allergic to these days (nuts, gluten, soy, dairy, dads jokes), and come in 4.5 ounce recyclable jars. Subscription plans range from six to 14 meals and start at $50.
Delivers to: California
There are two ways Pure Spoon differentiates itself from the rest of the mail-order lot: First, they ship their pureed fruits and veggies nationwide to the Lower 48 (sorry, Alaska); second, they use a “state-of-the-art process called High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) that pasteurizes the food without the use of chemicals or nutrient-depleting high heat.” Which means it’s all cold-pressed and cold-packed, but never frozen. Like its competitors, Pure Spoon’s meals are also “certified organic” and “pediatrician-approved,” and they come in 4.2-oz. reusable and recyclable plastic containers. Create-your-own 10 packs run $29 while a 22-pack sampler costs $57. You can also score singles ⏤ everything from creamy avocado and apple to blueberry, bananas, and apples ⏤ for $3 a pop.
Delivers to: Nationwide (excluding Alaska and Hawaii)
Thistle is more of a Blue Apron-esque ingredient box rather than ready-made baby food. Essentially, they do all your shopping and chopping, sending you bags of fresh flash frozen produce that’s been washed and portioned. All you do is steam the bag and puree it in the blender. So, yes, a little more work but the company advertises that three meals can be prepped in 15 minutes. You can also store a week’s worth in the fridge, and the box arrives on Friday so you’ve got Sunday to blend away. Meals have fun names like Heart Beet (Chiogga beets, watermelon radish, chia seeds) and Keep Calm & Curry On (butternut squash, rainbow carrots, gala apples, curry) and cost $2.15 each, or $45 per box. Each box includes three recipes and enough food to make 21 meals, or one week’s worth.
Delivers to: California and Nevada
For Bay Area parents with kids already in daycare or school, Scrumpt Fresh is a weekly kid lunch delivery service. Each lunch includes fresh fruits and veggies, plant-based proteins and hormone-free meat, and, as they say, “a little something extra to add some fun!” The menu changes seasonally and includes 14 items from which to choose, including all your usual cafeteria faves (or not) like chicken pops with honey mustard, pesto tortellini, teriyaki meatball kabobs, and soba noodle salad. Five days’ worth of lunches runs $30. They also sell a Scrumpt snack pack of 8-10 grab-and-go snacks for $14 if you missed that week’s Costco run.
Delivers to: San Francisco/Bay Area
The founders of Little Spoon say “ewww to jars and boo to pouches” and generally have a bone to pick with store-bought baby food because it’s too old. Also, the heat pasteurizing that deprives it of its nutrients. While it launched in April, the startup is still operating by invitation only in New York City but has plans to expand nationwide in the near future. Fresh blends like carrot pear, banana mango, and pea pear mint are customized by age (and your kid’s preferences), are delivered every other week, and are sold in subscription plans based on the number of meals you want per day: $4.99 for one, $4.49 for two, and $3.99 for three squares. And because they believe not only in truth in advertising, but also that babies should eat from a spoon rather than suck from a pouch, each container comes with a little spoon to take on the go.
Delivers to: New York City
Homemade is a grownups meal subscription service launched in April by Ayesha Curry (yes, NBA star Steph Curry’s wife). You choose your plan and they ship the ingredients to make tasty “family inspired meals,” like minted lamb burgers or brioche with feta tzatziki or penne puttanesca. Here’s the deal though: While few details are known, they’ve already announced Homemade Kids is coming soon. The meal-kits are designed “for children with 5 yummy recipes to choose from and will feature classic kid favorites with a healthy twist.” Maybe now that the NBA Finals over, it’ll be sooner rather than later. Stay tuned.
Delivers to: Nationwide (excluding Alaska and Hawaii)