Peach Dish

Even Peach Dish boxes feel personalized and special. 

An app designed to make meal planning and prepping a whole lot easier recently conducted a survey that probably should be taken with a grain of salt, but I'm using it here to justify writing about PeachDish, an Atlanta-based meal kit service that has made my weekly dinner prep situation so much easier. 

In the survey, Innit found that people were stressed out about meal planning and that South Carolina is one of the 25 most stressed out states when it comes to making dinner. 

By all means, if you're one of those stressed-out people, feel free to check out Innit and see if it can help make feeding your face easier. The app seems pretty useful because you can use it to either pick recipes to cook with step-by-step instructions or choose meal kits to order. 

When it comes to streamlining my meal prep, PeachDish won me over not just because the food has been good, but because it's very Southern and modern. Chefs, writers, and other food experts have contributed a huge cache of recipes. The boxes are adorned with the art of an Atlanta street folk artist. The box also includes surcees like an envelope of hand-drawn postcards from area artists.

PeachDish has addressed the worrisome over-packaging that comes from shipping perishable food by packing meal-kit ingredients in reusable organza bags, in themselves a very Southern sort of thing. Instead of soy sauce in plastic bottles, you'll receive a packet of Tamari to use in your recipe. Butter comes in foil-wrapped pats. They rely on salt, pepper and olive oil to be in your pantry.

For my very first order, I went for Pableaux Johnson's famous red beans and rice. Johnson is a New Orleans-based photographer and writer who is known to make a big pot of beans for Monday night dinner with an open invitation to friends and family to drop by for a bowl. It's part of a long New Orleans tradition. I ordered the $25 meal kit for six servings. Everything needed to approximate his dish came: tasso ham, Camellia dried red beans, long grain rice, bay leaves, Creole seasoning, garlic, onion, bell pepper, parsley and green onion. Despite having to plan ahead to soak the beans, this dish came together beautifully and made me wish I could drop by Johnson's place on a Monday and be guaranteed a bowl of this delicious food. In honor of his tradition, I shared with several friends and received rave reviews. It was delicious and special because the dish I was making had a story behind it. 

PeachDish promotes regional farmers and purveyors too, making sure to credit them. Each box comes with a list of where all the ingredients came from. Manchester Farms, Anson Mills and City Roots from South Carolina are included in the lineup along with GrowFood Carolina, Bulls Bay Sea Salt, Kurios Farms and Carolina Plantation Rice from the Charleston area. 

Chef Sean Brock (Husk, Minero, McCrady's) contributed a recipe for cornmeal-fried pork chops with goat cheese smashed potatoes and green tomato relish, a simple dish that takes about 20 minutes to prep and 25 to cook. Our own Nathalie Dupree's writing partner Cynthia Graubart has contributed a whopping 30 recipes: chicken pot pie, grass-fed beef chili, chicken cheesesteak, pasture-raised roasted chicken are just a few. 

The boxes contain recipe cards that provide illustrated step-by-step instructions. As a somewhat accomplished cook, I felt silly receiving my second box, because the meals had been chosen for me after I'd forgotten to select by Sunday. PeachDish sent a seared chicken breast with pasta and greens and Thai-style beef salad. Both were almost too simple, but it was nice to have the kits in the fridge ready to go on a weeknight. 

I prefer choosing the chef's recipes and looking for dishes that will teach me new techniques and flavor profiles. For instance, although I love red beans and rice, I probably would've never gone through the trouble of making it from scratch using dried beans, which is why it would have lacked the deep flavors that resulted from following Johnson's recipe. 

PeachDish has also partnered this month with The Giving Kitchen in Atlanta, a nonprofit that raises money for restaurant workers in need. Buy a party bundle, an hors d'oeuvres bundle or a dinner for four bundle, invite your friends over and know that money from your meal kit is going to a worthy cause. The bundle not only includes all you need to make food for group, but also has invitations, instructions, place cards, place mats, a menu, talking points about the Giving Kitchen along with donation cards and even a Spotify playlist. 

The prices start around $25 and everything is customizable, from the number of servings to the day of delivery. If you reach a minimum order of $50, delivery is free, otherwise it's $12. The flexibility combined with the recipes makes this the best meal kit I've tried. 

Follow Stephanie Barna on Twitter @stefbarna.