In times like these, restaurants are getting creative. While Panera and Subway are selling pantry staples, other eateries are turning to DIY meal kits. Last week Dunkin' started selling a donut decorating kit, and according to the AI-powered food intelligence startup Tastewise, consumer interest in meal kits has increased 511% in the last month. As interest grows, of course, so too does the number of options.
TODAY Food recently took a look at the long list of restaurants currently offering meal kits ahead of Memorial Day weekend. Here are some from the likes of Auntie Anne's, Shake Shack and more that we've already tried or have us waiting not-so-patiently for the mail carrier.
Last year, this Westchester, New York institution celebrated its 100th anniversary. This year, it's selling a kit with its famous hot dogs — made from a proprietary blend of beef, pork and veal — plus buns and Walter’s own relish-filled mustard. There is work involved but it pays off to get that signature snap. "Griddle, split it in half, griddle again, and boom, you’re at Walter’s!" said TODAY Food editor Emi Boscamp whose dad grew up eating Walter's hot dogs. Shipping is free.
It may be a long time before people are frequenting malls and airports again, but that doesn't need to stop people from enjoying Auntie Anne's irresistible pretzels. This DIY kit includes the mix for 10 original or cinnamon sugar pretzels. All you have to do is twist, bake, add butter and try to resist the urge to eat more than one in one sitting.
There's pasta made with love, and then there's pasta made with the love of an Italian grandmother like the one who has helped put I Trulli's on the pasta map. In fact, last year at the age of 83, Dora Marzovilla was still working in the iconic New York City restaurant six days a week. But if you want this nonna's beloved recipes, the closest you'll get is this kit which comes in lasagna, melanzane or gnocchi forms. Shipping is free.
"BYO lettuce, tomato and appetite," reads the description of this kit which includes Shake Shack's custom blend of 100% Angus beef, American cheese slices, potato buns and ShackSauce packets. If you do the math (adding in anywhere from $10 to $25 for shipping), it's still less than $10 a burger. That's not a bad deal considering you don't even have to leave the comfort of your own home. You just have to be OK with doing the grilling.
Ribs or pulled pork? You get both with this combo kit of award-winning Memphis barbecue from Central BBQ (as seen on Food Network). Just choose from popular American barbecue sauces (mild, hot, mustard or vinegar) and your spice (rib rub, BBQ shake, hot rub or shake rub). If it's wrong to use the oven or microwave to reheat meat that's been marinated for 24 hours and slowly smoked, then we don't want to be right. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Shipping is free.
Since 1946, Mike's Pastry has been where residents and tourists go for the best cannolis in Boston. Founded by a native Italian, Mike Mercogliano, Mike's Pastry is different from other purveyors in that it makes its cannoli shells in-house. This kit comes with 10 cannoli shells, a choice of plain ricotta or chocolate ricotta cheese, mini chocolate chips, crushed pistachio nuts and plenty of powdered sugar.
Everyone is trying their hand at making sourdough during quarantine, but no one knows this tangy staple bread better than San Francisco's famous Boudin's Bakery. Its recipe for the original "mother dough" has been around since 1849! This kit includes four fresh, 8-ounce sourdough bread bowls and two 18.8-ounce cans of Boudin's classic Fisherman's Wharf clam chowder. Shipping is free.
In a perfect — or even just normal — world, you can enjoy McCloon's best-selling lobster rolls at its wharf-front shack just a stone's throw from the lobster boats that brought in your lunch. But these days, it's safer to stay home and order in. This kit comes with a pound of fresh Maine lobster meat, four New England-style split-top rolls, mayonnaise and Casco Bay Artisan Sea Salt Butter.
Even if you don't know Danny Trejo by name, you probably know Danny Trejo by his famous face. (He's been in more than 300 movies.) But lately, it's his role as owner of Trejo's Tacos in Los Angeles that got him an appearance on this season's "Top Chef" as a machete-wielding judge. Trejo's taco kit comes with 12 corn tortillas, 24 ounces of carnitas, a can of Trejo's beans and a bottle of Trejo's hot sauce. Shipping is free.
Add hot dog stands to the list of things we took for granted pre-pandemic. Fortunately, the 125-year-old company that supplies thousands of vendors across the country is selling this DIY premium beef frank package. To pay homage to its Windy City roots, Vienna Beef's kit is "Chicago-style" and comes with most of the fixings. While poppyseed buns, peppers, relish, mustard and celery salt are included, you'll have to BYO tomatoes, onions and pickle spears, if desired. Shipping is free.
If you've never been able to go to New Orleans and try the legendary muffuletta sandwich — especially the one believed to be the original from Central Grocery, invented in 1906 by Sicilian immigrant Salvatore Lupo — now is the time to fix that. Each sandwich is made on a 9-inch round Sicilian sesame loaf and stuffed with ham, salami, mortadella, Swiss, provolone and the signature tangy olive salad, which, aside from olives, contains pickled vegetables like cauliflower, celery and carrot. Boscamp also tried this one and was shocked at how crusty the bread stayed through the shipping process. "No sog in sight!" she declared. Shipping is free.