Not only do they take a lot of stress out of the home-cooking equation, they also deliver their prep work right to your front door.
From a spacious catering kitchen in Evanston, the idea of helping home cooks reduce their stress levels takes shape. Jennifer Moore created Meez Meals a few months ago in an effort to help people who loved to cook, but didn't love the shopping or prep.
"It's a version of the French cooking concept of mise en place, which means having everything in its place and ready to go, but my French is severely challenged so I went phonetic with Meez," said Moore.
A vacuum sealer gets a real workout, sealing individual bags of vegetables or other ingredients, so customers don't have to use them up right away. Everything is chopped and measured, so the end-user doesn't have to think too much about it.
"For a lot of people, thinking of what to make is even harder than the actual shopping," Moore said. "They get into the same routine and one thing people love about Meez is that we're always coming up with different recipes so every week it's something new that they get to make."
Every week, they offer five vegetarian meals; you choose as many as you like and they make the delivery on Monday.
"We make it really easy for them by coming up with really interesting recipes," she said. "We do all the shopping for them, the chopping, and then we deliver it right to their door, so when they get home, they're ready to do the fun part, which is the actual cooking."
Newly married, with both she and her husband working, Jessy Newman has been ordering several meals per week over the past few months.
"It's a piece of cake," said Newman. "Everything is listed out and she tells you exactly what supplies you'll need that might already have in your kitchen if they haven't supplied it; exactly what materials you'll need to cook it - so two saucepans or a saucepan and a sauté pan."
On this night, it's a risotto, made with roasted beets and carrots.
"And we get to cook a lot of things we probably wouldn't cook during the week if we had to go to the grocery store and buy all the spices for something," Newman said. "It comes pre-packaged so you can just make it. I make Indian food all of the time.
"I would never make that during the week if I had to get it myself. The shopping is a big thing and it makes my cleanup really easy, which is nice. Everything just comes out of the bag, into the trash can. It's a total no-brainer."
Five new meals are offered every week, but you can choose fewer than that. Deliveries are dropped off on Mondays, so you still have time to order if you're interested in cooking for Valentine's Day.