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Holiday gift guide 2022: The best food and meal kits for long distance gifts



It used to be gauche to give money as a gift. If our current economic times are any indicator, those days are over. But what is the next best thing to giving money? Food. We all need it. We all love it.

That said, everyone has different tastes, dietary restrictions, allergies, and the like. But there are more options—especially healthy ones, available for shipping nationwide, no less—than ever before.

Here is a list of suggested food stuffs, gift baskets, and meal kits that you can order online this holiday season.

For many young professionals, having time (let alone money) to prepare quality food for oneself is out of the question. You can make that much simpler (even if it’s only for a week or a few days) for your favorite new graduate with a premium meal service. From Chef Daniel Humm of New York’s lauded Eleven Madison Park restaurant comes Eleven Madison Home, a plant-based meal kit with a menu touted to be intentionally prepared with modern life in mind. The Weekly Box delivery arrives at one’s doorstep a full day of plant-based meals—from breakfast, lunch, dinner snacks, and desserts—plus a curation of pantry favorites from EMP chefs. The inspiring ethos is similar to Meatless Monday in that it is meant to encourage diners to eat plant-based alone for at least one day per week. Each delivery is different, with a weekly-changing menu designed to demonstrate just how delicious plant-based food can be. And each box purchase includes a donation to Rethink Food, a New York City-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing hunger and food inequality.

Speaking of staying healthy, there are plenty of smaller and more budget-friendly options to encouraging a healthy diet and wellness regimen on a daily basis. After selling over 100 million of its daily green effervescent tablets, 8Greens is launching a new flavor: peach tea, which was designed to taste immaculately like Snapple’s popular summer beverage. Made from eight real greens—spinach, aloe vera, wheatgrass, kale, blue green algae, spirulina, chlorella, and barley grass—the “farm-to-table” tablet contains as much vitamin B5 as 15 cups of broccoli, vitamin C as six oranges, vitamin B6 as six cups of spinach, vitamin B12 as seven cups of milk, and zinc as three cups of raw peas. Just drop one tablet into a tall glass of ice water and you can fill up on your vitamins for the day.

For carb lovers, Eat Me Guilt Free produces what it describes as a “better-for-you” line of protein brownies, bread, tortilla wraps, and cake mixes. In development for two years, Eat Me Guilt Free’s new and improved formula has less sugar, is non-GMO and uses modified atmosphere packaging to exclude unnecessary preservatives. It features ingredients sourced in Europe, where regulations against food additives are more stringent than in the U.S. The brand’s low-carb brownies and cake bars, in particular, are especially portable for anyone who needs a sugar rush with less sugar while on-the-go. (And they give new meaning to having cake for breakfast with 14 grams of protein at under 200 calories per serving.) The variety box is a good place to start, with two of all six flavor profiles: chocolate, peanut butter bliss, red velvet, tuxedo, birthday cake, and “galaxy” (which is chocolate with sprinkles).

Over the last decade as smoothies and green juices have gone from diet trend to a daily mainstay for many people, there has been a rush to produce a product that is easier, cheaper, and doesn’t require a blender. Kencko really achieves that goal with its instant smoothies through a freeze drying method, which the brand says locks in the nutrients of fruit and vegetables in a shelf-stable way. When ready to consume, the fruit and veggie packets becomes a smoothie instantly, with just the addition of the consumer’s desired liquid (i.e. water, juice, dairy or non-dairy milk, etc.). Available as a subscription or in boxes of 20, shipments come with a reusable, travel-friendly shaker bottle, and Kencko’s packaging is entirely compostable.

Locale is a highly curated food delivery platform featuring some of the most buzzed about award winning restaurants nationwide. But what really sets it apart is the delivery. Consumers can mix and match their favorite items from their favorite vendors and receive it all in one shipment for just a $5 flat fee. Menu options include breakfast burritos from Los Angeles favorite Cofax, baked goods from Craftsman and Wolves (often lauded as one of the best bakeries and cafés in San Francisco), and pantry staples from celeb hotspot Carbone in New York City.

Mosaic Foods, a direct-to-consumer flash-frozen meal delivery service for vegans and vegetarians, recently launched a line of plant-based pizzas. Touted to be the most requested item by Mosaic customers, Mosaic’s pizza line includes seven chef-crafted flash-frozen pizzas and a two-pack of flavorful Broccoli Crusts for DIY pizzas at home. These oven-ready pizzas are vegetarian, wheat-free, and are healthier spin on ready-to-bake take home pizzas. Each pizza is created with 100% all-natural ingredients and feature traditional and globally inspired topping combinations, including four cheese, mushroom lovers, and aloo chaat and chutney. Pizzas are delivered frozen to your doorstep, and only take 20 minutes to bake.

Virtually everyone has at least one cheese lover in their lives, and thus, what could be better than a whole basket of cheese? Northbay Creameries serves as the online shop for Bay Area sister brands Laura Chenel, Marin French Cheese Co., and St. Benoit Creamery—all producing locally-made, better-for-you goat and cow’s milk dairy products. Northbay offers a variety of themed gift baskets, including a build-you-own option, for holiday entertaining and gifting, and prices range from $42 to $118. And shipping is free via UPS for deliveries in California, Oregon, and Nevada for purchases over $60. 

It would be easy to keep your fridge stocked with mostly Splendid Spoon products as the brand makes a bevy of ready-to-eat and nutrient-dense plant-based smoothies, soups, grain bowls, and noodles. Some tasty choices include plant-based dan dan noodles, coconut curry rice, black bean and plantain rice (pictured), and vegetable bolognese. The female-founded company also has a few new functional smoothies (pineapple passion fruit and blue majik) that feature unique superfoods like Sea Buckthorn Berry, Blue Spirulina and Tocos, all which provide not just nutritional value, but beauty benefits like antioxidants, vitamins and collagen production. 

Founded by celebrated chef and cookbook author Pierre Thiam, Yolélé launched this fall with a special line of African-inspired spice rubs, which will be available in gifting packages just in time for the holiday season—perfect for home cooks. For the beginner cook who wants to explore new cuisines, the Fonio Starter Pack is a good introduction to cooking with the West African grain, fonio, which can be used as a base for grain bowls, pastries, and more. The gift set includes one bag of classic fonio, one bag of fonio flour for baking, and a signed copy of The Fonio Cookbook by Chef Thiam.

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