Meal-kit services are all the rage, with a new one popping up on my Facebook feed seemingly every day. But there was one that I felt compelled to try because it’s a family-run, Westchester-based business. Simply Gather was founded just last spring by Caren Weintraub, a Larchmont resident and mom of two, whose husband, Jonah, is a professional chef.
Caren wanted to create a service similar to Blue Apron, but with locally sourced ingredients and more palatable options for kids. The service is so hyper-local, in fact, that it’s only available to the towns of Pelham, New Rochelle, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Harrison, Scarsdale and White Plains at the moment, but the intention is to expand to northern Westchester soon. Caren reached out to us to offer a sample of their services. Here’s how our experience went.
My First Dinner: I ordered the pan-fried fluke with baby kale and mixed-grains salad ($11.99 per adult or child). The kids’ version came with panko crumbs to transform the fluke into fish sticks. You’re allowed to choose up to three meals from five options that change every week, and vegetarian and gluten-free options are available.
Delivery: Simply Gather only delivers on Tuesdays around 4pm. Our ingredients were packed in a large tote and left at my door, with the instructions indicating that we were to leave the tote and ice packs outside our door next Tuesday so they could be collected and reused.
The Upside: The quality of the fish and kale was excellent, the tahini dressing for the salad was tasty, and it felt good to be eating ingredients handpicked and prepped by a veteran chef. The fluke was sourced through Port Chester Seafood, and the veggies came from the Larchmont Down to Earth Farmers’ Market. Much of the produce comes from organic farms in the tri-state area.
I loved that the veggies came washed and pre-chopped. Each of Simply Gather’s meal is supposed to take fewer than 30 minutes to prepare, which is relief. My biggest peeve about Blue Apron is that the meals take me about an hour to put together, most of that time spent chopping vegetables. If Blue Apron is for those who want the savor the experience of diligently preparing a home-cooked meal from scratch, Simply Gather is an abbreviated version of that experience for busy parents. When you’ve got small kids, there’s no time to mince garlic!
The Downside: Compared with the well-oiled machine that is Blue Apron, Simply Gather definitely feels like a mom-and-pop shop. The online ordering process can be a little confusing, and the page of instructions could use a copy editor (mine noted that two baking sheets were needed, when they actually were not).
Bottom Line: Simply Gather is definitely worth a try, particularly if you’re into supporting Westchester businesses. The quality of the ingredients is extremely fresh, and the meal is quick and easy to put together. The website is simply-gather.com.