By Frank Sabatini Jr.
Having healthy, chef-prepared meals delivered to your doorstep might seem so Kardashian, but this ultimate form of room service has become nearly as accessible as ordering pizza and comes with the added bonus of replacing grocery bills.
So, whether you're too frenzied or ill-equipped to conjure up meals like lentil enchiladas, wine-braised salmon or a lean, mean barbecue turkey meatloaf, consider enlisting the help of these six companies canvassing the county with your well-being in mind.
After attending culinary school in San Diego, former private chef Marcella Marinho made a career of preparing gourmet meals for wealthy, well-traveled clients who requested dishes they experienced while abroad.
Today, the Brazilian native with a thick accent and infectious smile runs Health Grub, an affordable yet healthy/gourmet food company that delivers chicken tikka masala, pad Thai and Portuguese fish stew - among many other domestic and global flavors - to a clientele spanning from families to high-rise workers eagerly awaiting her drop-offs in break rooms.
"We offer healthy gourmet food," Marinho says. "We make it fresh and deliver it to people's home or work, so they don't have to go out and eat at fast food or make bad decisions at lunch time because they don't have time."
Marinho's mission with Health Grub is to enable her clients to enjoy flavor-rich and delicious foods while also leading healthy, active lives. To do so, she creates meals using organic extra virgin olive oil, and organic coconut and avocado oils in lieu of cream, regular butter and other vegetable oils. (To dabble in decadence, she'll sometimes sneak organic clarified butter into her fish dishes.)
Based in Tempe, Arizona, this healthy-meal delivery service earns 25 percent of its sales from fitness-conscious customers in San Diego County.
Using recipes crafted by his father, Dr. Frank Comstock, who runs a wellness clinic in Tucson, co-founder Carter Comstock terms the company's food as "Paleo-esque."
Dietary plans are offered through "GetFit" programs featuring three meals a day for a week, or over the course of 28 days. Recipes are free of soy, sugar, gluten and preservatives, although allowances are made for beans (a Paleo no-no) in dishes such as turkey chili and breakfast protein bowls. Customers, however, can opt to have certain ingredients added or removed.
"We use a team of about 15 chefs, and the food is shipped out from our industrial kitchen the same day it's cooked," says Comstock, adding that delivery costs within San Diego County average $15 to $20, depending on location.
À la carte menus are also available ($50 minimum), as well as the "choose for me" option for customers who don't mind surrendering their palates to fate.
or a lot of people, the thought process of figuring out how to eat healthy is stressful," says Remedy Food's chef/owner Marina Cook, who delivers an ever-changing repertoire of dishes to about 40 customers each week.
For a minimum purchase of $200 (plus nominal delivery fees based on mileage), Remedy customers receive a dozen fully cooked meals - six lunches and six dinners - constructed with local organics and sustainable, hormone-free proteins. The meals are packaged in biodegradable containers and delivered in insulated bags chilled by ice packs.
Popular sellers include roasted Jidori chicken that originates from a family farm outside of Los Angeles, lentil enchiladas with fresh tomatillos, and salmon with brown rice and green apple salsa. Microwave warm-ups are fine, although Cook recommends using ovens or stovetops instead.
"The notepad on my phone is never off. When I see something that looks delicious but it's horrible for you, I figure out ways to make it healthy," she says.
hould a craving for FITzee's chicken mac-n-cheese or barbecue turkey meatloaf strike while visiting, let's say, Podunk, Arkansas, you can have the items delivered fresh - and within 48 hours via FedEx - in a Styrofoam box packed with ice.
The company distributes fat-carb-protein-balanced meals locally and nationwide and also offers 10 pickup stations within San Diego County. The never-frozen meals are also available at FITzee's retail outlet in Liberty Station (2445 Truxtun Rd., Liberty Station).
Menu options change every four weeks. Hot-selling standbys include Paleo spaghetti and "red" chicken enchiladas, with each customer's special dietary needs taken into account. Beef, pork and free-range poultry used in the dishes are hormone-free, and the meals are constructed in a commissary kitchen in Miramar.
"Our food is like a personal chef in a package," says CEO and founder Michelle Weinstein. "We're the meal you wish you could have, but don't have time to shop, cook and clean for it."
Deliveries require a minimum purchase of five items.
reshly picked seasonal bounties appearing in boxes and wholesome meals are delivered free to consumers in Escondido, San Marcos, Vista, Fallbrook and other northern areas of the region.
The service, says Taylor Webber, who runs the Temecula-based Harvest 2U with his father, Don, is geared toward "people who don't get out to farmers markets or normally don't buy organic foods." The company also offers several North County locations where customers can pick up the cased "harvests" containing produce from nearby farms, as well as the meals, which are prepared at E.A.T. Marketplace restaurant in Old Town Temecula.
Delivery options for either vary, but require a minimum of two drop-offs. The offerings change seasonally with dishes that can include wine-braised salmon with green bean salad, zucchini stuffed with turkey sausage and various vegetarian dishes.
For the boxes, available in different sizes, customers can choose organics meant exclusively for juicing, or spring for the ready-to-eat delights such as artichokes, Romanesco broccoli, heirloom tomatoes and early-autumn yields of leafy greens and apples.
GET FRESH SAN DIEGO
fter leaving the medical-device industry, Kim Neusch began focusing on her health by making meals from scratch. Realizing such devotion to meal preparation doesn't fit into the schedules of most working folk, she opened a 2,000-square-foot industrial kitchen in El Cajon and launched Get Fresh San Diego to crank out her culinary creations - like polenta-crust pizzas and hangar steak tacos in plantain tortillas - for public consumption.
"Most of the meals start off as vegetarian or vegan, but we add meats and cheeses per request," she says.
With the exception of tofu, everything's homemade, including tomato sauce achieved from hand-peeled tomatoes. Sugar and honey are off-limits; Neusch instead uses date puree to sweeten certain dishes. Her produce is sourced mainly from Growers Direct in La Mesa. The organic meats hail from Whole Foods.
Get Fresh San Diego offers two meal plans: four entrees and a container of soup for $74, or six entrees and the soup for $106 (both include delivery). Individual meals, which require a minimum of three dishes per order, range from $13 to $16 each, with a flat delivery fee of $5.
Get Fresh San Diego