Heat-and-eat meals are nothing new—hello, Hungry Man!—but this crop of small, local companies are elevating pre-made dinners to gourmet quality, and even delivering them to your door. Whether you’re craving tamales or lasagna, pizza or vegan alfredo, there’s someone making it by hand so you can feed your family stress-free. Here, the culinary pros who turned the pandemic into a fresh or frozen meal delivery opportunity, and details on what they’re cooking and how you can get it.
When COVID dried up Liz Gonzalez-Lara and Erica Arteaga’s pre-pandemic businesses in 2020, they wasted no time starting a new venture delivering frozen Mexican meals to Denver homes. Most Dos Amigas (formerly Green Roots Meals) recipes come from Arteaga’s family in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and Denverites and beyond have appreciated being able to stock their freezers with heat-and-eat meals like barbacoa Jalisco, chiles rellenos, tamales, and chicken tinga.
How it works: Order by Tuesday at 8 p.m. for Wednesday delivery ($45 minimum). Meals arrive frozen, so if you won’t be home, leave a cooler on the porch.
How much: Pastor for four is $17; six sweet corn tamales ring in at $9; and two pounds of chicken tinga for tacos and burritos is $15.50.
Delivery range: From Boulder and Longmont to Parker and Castle Rock, and everywhere in between.
The recipes for these scratch-made Italian meals come from a pretty legit source: Italian native Mario Crobu’s mother. He and wife Kelly spent years rolling pasta dough and perfecting their Bolognese skills before launching Casa Crobu last year. Some of their special creations include mushroom and truffle oil lasagna, handmade trofie pasta with classic pesto, and culurgiones, a specialty ravioli from Sardinia filled with potato purée and pecorino cheese.
How it works: Choose the delivery date and time window that works for you; the company is currently dropping food on Mondays and Fridays. Free delivery on orders over $50.
How much: A dozen large ravioli goes for $10–$12; a pint and a half of Bolognese sauce is $16; and eggplant parmigiana for eight is $50.
Delivery range: As far north as Boulder, and as far south as Castle Pines.
Curt Steinbecker (former owner of Cherry Creek’s Ondo’s Spanish Tapas Bar) always had a passion for pizza, so when the pandemic closed restaurants, the Westminster resident got to work cooking and delivering his oven-ready, crispy-bottomed pizzas—and lasagnas, salads, and desserts—around his neighborhood. It was a hit, and now two-month-old Curt’s Table runs food to neighborhoods all over the Front Range. Bonus: His wife Deicy Villaveces, owner of gluten-free dessert company Deliss, makes his tiramisu, triple berry cheesecake, and white and dark chocolate mousse.
How it works: Right now Curt is delivering every day for a flat $10 fee. Pre-order two days in advance to get on his schedule.
How much: The 14-inch square pizzas are $14–$19; salads serving two–three people range from $15 –$18; and a big pan of lasagna for six (or more) is $46.
Delivery range: All over Denver metro, up to Boulder.
Krissy Ostermiller opened her plant-based café inside Zeppelin Station on Feb. 1, 2020. We all know what happened next, but while COVID sidelined the in-person café, Ostermiller still wanted to fulfill her mission of helping people heal from the inside out, using food as medicine. So she took her food to the streets, delivering the ready-to-eat, plant-based, organic, and gluten-free meals to customers’ doors. YaYe’s (it stands for You Are What You Eat) menu changes weekly, but recent offerings included a beet burger with sweet potato fries, ratatouille with coconut milk polenta, and smoked tomato and roasted veggie frittata.
How it works: Order by Wednesday and your meals will be delivered the following Monday or Thursday. To avoid the $10 delivery fee, you can pick up the goods at area Whole Sol Blend Bars.
How much: Three days of the signature meal plan (lunch and dinner) is $119; three days of breakfasts is $39; the raw key lime or banana cacao cream pies are $29 each.
Delivery range: Spans about 30 miles around Denver, going south to Lone Tree and reaching up to north Boulder.