You know the feeling. You just don’t have it in you to create yet another family meal after playing full-time chef to a host of tiny customers, serving breakfasts and lunches and dinners (and snacks and snacks and snacks) around the clock. Yet you also don’t want to rely on takeout — again — knowing the neighborhood pizza joint won’t actually provide what you want for your family.
This is me — at least a few times a week.
On those days, I’m always dreaming of a service that might provide a family-style weeknight meal, complete with nutritious side dishes and without the pitfalls of restaurant takeout (overly greasy/heavy food, too few vegetables, endless menu options that overwhelm the person ordering).
Well, it turns out there is such a thing — it’s called Bountiful Kitchen, and it’s a Somerville gem.
Founder Julian Cohen found himself immersed in his cookbooks in the early days of the pandemic, plotting a way to bring his community together through food. He began cooking for his neighbors — people who didn’t feel comfortable going to the store or who couldn’t cook. Before long, he’d brought on Joe Schwartz, a graduate of New England Culinary Institute, to take his dishes to the next level. And now, just a few months later, the Boston area has Bountiful Kitchen to rely on for weeknight meals that preserve the comfort of family dinners during a stressful time.
I perused the menu one week, salivating over the photos and descriptions (spice-crusted swordfish panzanella, grilled summer squash and feta, chili-spiced pots de creme). I knew my Thursday was going to be a busy one, with little time for cooking. So I placed an order right then and there, already loving that we’d have a five-star meal that night without any time in the kitchen!
The Bountiful Kitchen website launches a menu each week that features a new daily main course, plus a handful of side dishes that remain constant for the week. Most entrees are sold per person, though Thursday is always a “family style” option (serves two to four). Side dishes serve one to two people.
Bountiful delivers each weeknight to Cambridge and Somerville (with plans to expand!). I’m in nearby Arlington, so I planned a couple of errands to do the afternoon of my order so I could swing by for contactless pickup in Somerville.
And here’s what I brought home for my family of five (me, husband, and kids ages 7, 4, and 2): family style honey-soy braised short ribs with scallion pancakes and bok choy, chilled beet soup with spiced yogurt, honey and dill glazed carrots, heirloom tomato and feta salad, and herbed chickpea and freekeh salad — with chili-spiced pots de creme for dessert!
The meal was divine. The variety made it pretty simple to feed kids with varying levels of comfort in trying new foods — two kids ate a ton of carrots, one couldn’t get enough of the chickpeas and freekeh, one went straight for the meat (all three loved the scallion pancakes, of course). I kept going back for more of the feta and tomatoes and was delighted to learn the cheese is local and available to order separately on the Bountiful site. The dessert was probably the highlight for all of us — creamy chocolate pots de creme with a hint of spice and topped with whipped cream and juicy blueberries.
Now, in a dream world, I’d whip up my own gourmet dinners every night. But we all know that isn’t reality for any of us! So when life with three kids has me feeling crazy, or when work is overwhelming, or when I just don’t feel OK about serving my family nachos again, I’m going to outsource. And I love knowing I have the option of a place like Bountiful Kitchen instead of falling back on restaurant takeout I’ll probably regret.
As Julian says, “I want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to come together for a delicious meal each day. From the farm, to the chef, to the table, we are all in this together.”