Healthy Habits Kitchen: A different kind of take-out

Peek inside the refrigerator at Healthy Habits Kitchen in Wellesley.

It isn’t just the cooking that makes healthy eating untenable. It’s also the shopping, organizing, and clean up that needs to happen in addition to the cooking.

Those are exactly the things that Susan Schochet and her staff at Healthy Habits Kitchen do (exceptionally well, I might add). Healthy Habits Kitchen in Wellesley offers meal assembly and preparation services for individuals and families, which removes the stumbling blocks from regular healthy eating.

“Meal assembly” works like this. You schedule a time to come to the Kitchen. You choose which meals you want to prepare. When you arrive — as I did last week, along with my two children — your station is set, your ingredients are portioned, and you’re ready to fly into the preparation of healthy, quick meals.

The process goes super-fast. The ingredients are at your fingertips and the recipe is right in front of you, printed out and standing in a plastic clipboard. And you aren’t expected to clean up. And –bonus — the average price per person for a meal at Healthy Habits Kitchen is less than $4.

Susan Schochet holds an assembled meal kit that her customers take home and store until they're ready to cook the meal.

There were unexpected bonuses from my trip to Healthy Habits Kitchen, both during the assembly and during preparation at home. First, the kids loved being at the Kitchen. It’s a neat, organized space, their roles were clear, and Schochet clearly has a lot of experience dealing with young people.

Leo takes a break from meal assembly to lick a spoon of honey.

A second bonus is the peace of mind when you know you won’t be home to cook for your family. Anyone at home is empowered to put a healthy meal on the table. All of the ingredients are there, plus clear instructions for cooking the meal, all stickered to the Ziploc bag holding the kit.

The third bonus was a certain sense of confidence. You start to think, “It really isn’t so hard to cook good, healthy food.” You can imagine getting the hang of it. And maybe, little by little, you start taking steps to replicate the process for yourself. That would be the healthy habit-forming part of a Healthy Habits Kitchen experience. And it’s a consequence Schochet, with her passion for sharing healthy cooking, wouldn’t mind one bit.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.


Seven habits of highly effective (and value-minded) wine drinkers

Bottles stored efficiently in the cave of a highly effective wine drinker in Beaune, France.

  1. Taste a little bit, even a sip or two, every day. The more you taste, the easier it becomes because the experience of wine grows increasingly familiar. The key is to start looking, and to get in the habit.
  2. Accept that you can do this on a budget. There is no better time to be a wine consumer. Why? Restaurants and wine shops all over town – there is bound to be one where you live – are vying for your business by offering special deals here, discount offers there, try-before-you-buy options somewhere else.
  3. Overcome feeling overwhelmed. Make friends with your local wine merchant. Sign up for wine communities online. There are resources available; find out that’s suited to your personality.
  4. Boston is a player in domestic and international wine sales. Which means winemakers and winery representatives visit the Hub on a very regular basis. Take advantage of these first-hand opportunities, like Philippe Blanck at BOKX 109, Jack Bittner of Cliff Lede at the Nantucket Wine Festival, Darioush at the Boston Harbor Hotel, and Patrizia Lamborghini at Gordon’s to name a few.
  5. Get your feet wet. Literally. Wine-producing vineyards are a short drive away, no matter where you live, whether it’s west of Boston, the Cape, Rhode Island, Connecticut, even New Hampshire.
  6. Connect with the brain trust. Link up with a tasting club. Take a class. Few urban areas boast the university culture that drives much of Boston’s energy and enthusiasm. All of those brain cells have a surprising thirst for wines of all stripes, from MIT to Boston University to Brandeis to Harvard.
  7. Whether it’s big-scale like a marketing campaign from Gallo, or small-scale like a person-to-person transaction in a tiny wine shop somewhere in Jamaica Plain, the business of wine is at its best when it’s making someone’s life better. Maximize those opportunities to move beyond your mundane daily concerns. Wine is a treat. Treat it like one.