The Six Best Kid-Friendly Meal Kits for 2020
"Orange blossom tea cakes!" my 10-year-old exclaims from the kitchen. "Mom, come see!" Our Raddish kit has arrived. This month's theme is "Made in Morocco" and my daughter is in heaven. She squeals with each recipe booklet she opens. "Kefta rolls!" she yells to me. "And look! Have you ever heard of a tagine?"
When I first saw the small Raddish (as in "Rad Dish") box on my doorstep, I admit that I had concerns about what might be inside. There were clearly no ingredients included in this kit – and what was the point of a meal kit without ingredients? But what I found instead was pretty remarkable: a box of history, lessons, and charming little gifts. This wasn't just a "make this for dinner" type of kit. It was a treasure chest of recipes, activities, and encouragement!
Raddish is a monthly membership service and you can pay by the month for $24 per kit, every 6 months for $22 per kit, or 12 months for $20 per kit. Each kit comes with a new patch for your child's apron, as well as a cool cooking tool. This month's tool is a set of silicone teacake molds, beautifully shaped like small roses — which my daughter immediately lines up on the counter.
In addition to the high-quality swag, each monthly box also includes detailed ingredient lists (which also get emailed to you a week ahead of time) and shopping tips, games, and activities related to the cooking topic or country. Plus there are sturdy "Table Talk Cards" for dinner discussion. And all three of my kids love taking turns with the cards that ask questions like "If you could time travel, where would you go?", "Name as many African countries as you can", and "Explore your spice cabinet. Which one smells best?".
After a delicious dinner of crunchy kefta rolls and Moroccan chicken tagine, I was a happy mom. Raddish had given my kids an afternoon of activities that felt like school, only more fun — they'd practiced following directions and problem-solving. They'd measured and planned. They'd found Morocco on the map and counted all the countries in Africa.
And they did more than 75 percent of this without my help. I'll say that again for all the exhausted parents out there: Raddish gives such specific, illustrated, step-by-step instructions that my 10-year-old could handle almost all of the chopping, measuring, and cooking on her own. This subscription service would work for a wide variety of ages, depending on the amount of adult supervision provided. From around 4 to 5 years up through the early teens.
After such a great experience, I found myself curious about what other kits were out there. A little digging on social media led me to discover that tons of my friends and work colleagues use a variety of family-friendly, monthly meal kits. Raddish was a favorite of many families, particularly those with kids who already loved to cook, but there was a whole world of monthly services out there!
Here are some of the other meal kits they use and love:
Kidstir is a popular monthly subscription. The yearly subscribers get an organized binder to add the monthly recipes to, and the parents I spoke with LOVE that component. This is a similar kit to Raddish, with an ingredient list mailed to parents ahead of time and themed, detailed recipes with cooking tools in the kit itself. Both Raddish and Kidstir are comparable in price, and some parents feel that Kidstir is better for younger kids (ages 4 to 8) and Raddish for older (8 to 14). One mom mentioned that she loved the achievement stickers, but thought the child-sized cooking tools didn't work for her tween kiddo.
Buy It: Kidstir meal kits, $20-$24 monthly, kidstir.com
Harlow's Harvest is another lesson-themed monthly subscription service. And, like most of the child-centric cooking kits, ingredients are not included. Harlow's Harvest is unique in that you choose baking or cooking as your focus, so if your child loves to make desserts but isn't all that into making the family dinner (or vice versa), this is the monthly subscription for you! These kits also make STEM a priority, adding in little activities and facts to help keep parents happy about the secret learning their child is doing. The price and age range are similar to Kidstir and Raddish, with one friend of mine saying that her 13-year-old really enjoyed this one, even with the younger illustrations.
Buy It: Harlow's Harvest meal kits, $19-$23 monthly, harlowsharvest.com
Baketivity is a baking-themed company that offers both subscriptions and individual kits. Aimed at younger bakers, ages 4 to 10, these kits include pre-measured ingredients and minimal swag. Several of my friends really enjoyed these boxes because they were quick, required almost no prep on the parent's part, and their young kids felt so successful after using them. This subscription service is less about learning or lessons, and is more about developing a love of baking in littles.
Buy It: Baketivity meal kits, $26-$33 monthly, baketivity.com
Eat 2 Explore is a monthly subscription service that focuses on parents and kids exploring new types of cuisines together. A good friend of mine chose this as a way of connecting with her 12-year-old son amidst the chaos of busy schedules during the week. The two of them spent one weekend evening each month making a meal together, trying recipes from different countries around the world. These kits are not for younger kids to use on their own, and the recipe cards are written for teens and adult readers. But there are lessons included for younger kids, and this offers a great incentive for young chefs to try new flavors and styles of cooking with a parent. Sauces and spices are included in the kits, but fresh ingredients are provided by you.
Buy It: Eat 2 Explore meal kits, $22-$25 monthly, eat2explore.com
Wait, Blue Apron isn't a kid's subscription service! It's true, and yet a ton of parents I know have subscribed to Blue Apron over the past few months and put their teenagers in charge of dinner. And guess what? It worked! During this difficult time, parents with teens have struggled with so many different aspects of parenting — and the family dinner is often an area of contention. All of my friends who have chosen to do a meal kit for older teens, specifically, have found that their kids don't want any of the swag or activities. Plus, parents often don't want to worry about shopping for ingredients or potentially discouraging their reluctant 16-year-old chefs with recipes that may or may not work. Blue Apron includes all the ingredients and directions, in a straightforward, no-frills-attached package. Perfect for teens. Plus many of my friends have found that their teens are proud of the dinners they make and like how they feel when everyone eats their food. A kit like Blue Apron allows for consistent success and culinary skill-building all over family dinner.
Buy It: Blue Apron meal kits, $48-$72 weekly, blueapron.com