I Ate Jonathan Cheban's Meal Delivery Service for a Week
I've always enjoyed eating. Probably more than most people. And eight years living in the food mecca of New York City have managed to turn my acute fascination into a full-fledged obsession, where I feel a pressing need to try the newest restaurant, buzzy ingredient, or meal kit, no matter how strange or difficult-to-get. So when I heard that Jonathan Cheban, Kim Kardashian West's BFF and self-proclaimed "Food God," launched his own meal delivery service, I felt compelled to give it a go.
Prepped's chief aim is to replicate the quality of food that Cheban enjoys on the regular and make it accessible to the masses at an affordable price point. "Everyone knows that I'm a food fanatic," he says in a press release. "This new venture gives me the opportunity to share my favorite dishes. My celebrity friends are constantly asking me for recommendations on restaurants, what to order and where to get it." The carefully curated menu is based on places Cheban frequents—and thoroughly documents on his Instagram account.
For those unfamiliar with Cheban's career prior to starring on KUWTK, the reality star is somewhat of a serial entrepreneur. Not long after graduating from Hofstra University in 1995 with a degree in communications, he founded his own public relations firm, CommandPR (with a corresponding E! series), launched the entertainment and lifestyle site TheDishh, and opened a restaurant on Long Island called Burger Bandit. Considering that his resume demonstrates a keen interest in food, that piqued my curiousity for his latest venture even more. He seemed invested.
The way Prepped works is pretty straightfoward. A team of chefs creates a new menu of meals each week using fresh and seasonal ingredients, and subscribers can opt for five, 10, 15, or 20 meals per week, choosing from breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert offerings, as well as low-carb, dairy-free, and gluten-free options. You don't need to set up a meal plan or a subscription to place an order, which is a relief, because that's typically a very cumbersome process. The meals arrive within a two-day delivery window and last up to a week in the refrigerator, or one month if frozen.
The pricing is also reasonable, especially compared to what you would be paying if you opted to dine out every night like Cheban. The meals range from $10 to $12, which are on par with Momofuku chef David Chang's food delivery startup Maple and Umi Kitchen, a new home-cooked meal delivery app founded by restaurateur Danny Meyer's daughter Hallie Meyer. Though it should be noted that unlike other vegan or clean-eating programs out there, you're not paying a premium price for healthy food. In fact, the majority of the options are explicitly unhealthy.
My 14 meals for the week came packaged in a large cardboard box (pictured above). Inside, there was a styrofoam casing and two ice packs to ensure the cargo was kept cool in transit. Each meal comes in a vacuum-sealed bag, so it can be continuously flavored before consumption. The first one I made was pomegranate-glazed salmon with a saffron risotto and honey-balsamic roasted carrots, which sounds a lot fancier than it was. The fish was dry and could have definitely benefitted from extra sauce, but the carrots tasted surprisingly fresh and the risotto was brimming with flavor. It clocked in at 510 calories.
The next night, I had the gluten-free General Tso's chicken with vegetable fried rice and broccoli. It was delicious, and at 475 calories, felt considerably healthier than my standard greasy takeout order, but I think this dish could have used some extra sauce, too—maybe that's because the Asian in me has grown accustomed to adding soy sauce to everything. Plus, as my celiac friends will attest, gluten-free Chinese food is a rare luxury. The instructions were also simple (most consisted of microwaving for one to two minutes), which was great after a long day of work. All I had to do was empty the contents onto a plate and heat it up.
Overall, I was impressed by the offerings, but I'd be hard-pressed to classify the meals as gourmet-caliber. More accurately, they were like a cross between a Lean Cuisine and a Maple order, if it was delivered pre-cooked. However, it was nice to know that there's enough variety for every kind of eater, with options ranging from chicken flatbread pizza with feta, spinach, and grilled onions, to turkey meatballs with gravy, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce.
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Ultimately, I appreciated the efficiency of a microwavable dinner, but I don't see why someone wouldn't just order something on Seamless every night at a similar price point instead. And while I'll give it to Cheban for getting creative with his recipes, I can't see him choosing prepackaged meals over a fresh food delivery either—but that's precisely the point. If you enjoy trying new things and wish to expand your horizons for five (or 20) days, Prepped is your best bet. They don't call him the "Food God" for nothing, after all.