Triangle Offers Quick Dinner Solutions for Healthy Family Meals


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"Mooom, I'm huuuungry," my 3-year-old wails at me at 6 p.m.  With a toddler and an infant, work, and a house to take care of, getting a healthy, hearty dinner on the table is usually not a high priority.  Until, of course, that little hunger rumble starts somewhere in the area below my tummy, or more specifically in the area rolling around on my kitchen floor.  As I rummage through the freezer looking for another Stouffer's meal I think, "There has to be a better way."  Turns out, there is.

Throughout the Triangle, local companies and chefs are willing to help families like yours and mine create healthy, well-rounded meals to use on the busiest of days.  Here's a detailed look some of the services offered by a few companies. See the listing below to contact them and to find more resources. And see Fast Meals for Busy Parents for more tips.

Personal Chef Services

You may think that bringing a personal chef to your home is too posh.  But believe it or not, having a personal chef doesn't mean you're an aspiring Hollywood A-lister. On the contrary, you're simply a smart parent taking advantage of the talents of a group of Triangle professionals who want to help you succeed in creating delicious, healthy meals as efficiently as possible.  Depending on your budget and what you need, these chefs will tailor a program just for you.  Want them to put together a list and grocery shop for you?  They'll do that.  Want them to prepare a week's worth of meals for your fridge?  Sure.  Want them to teach you how to do it yourself with hands-on lessons?  They'd love to.  Cary Dinner Fairy is operated by "fairy" chef Jenny who specializes in helping families with dietary restrictions.  Chef Joe at NC Chef for Me says his service provides you with more time to spend with your kids.  With both of these personal chefs, price is varies widely depending on what you request, what you need, meals prepared, and what services they provide.  Your best bet is to contact them directly.

An option that you may find cheaper ($100 for five made-from-scratch meals) but less customizable is the Family Dinner plan from Foster's Market. Both Foster's locations, in Durham and Chapel Hill, offer an order-ahead family meal plan for the week.  Get your request in on a Friday before 2 p.m., and the next Monday you can pick up a week's worth of delicious gourmet meals that just need to be heated and mixed according to the directions provided.

Meal Preparation

If you are more of a DIYer, you may like a meal prep option that lets you prepare healthy, delicious freezer meals for your family.  Dinner Savvy in Apex is a place where busy folks like us can take one night out to place precut ingredients into freezer-friendly storage according to instructions laid out on easy-to-follow recipe cards.   Entrees feed between four to six people and cost from $22 to $34 each, with a minimum of three meals required.  At the end of the night you leave with weeks' worth of freshly made frozen meals, and you didn't have to grocery shop, recipe hunt, or even chop!

Takeout Delights

If you are not the type of person who plans in advance or if your family feels the fierce calling of a particular craving some nights, you no longer need to pack up the kids in the car and fight boredom and "is my food ready yet" whining at a restaurant.  A number of Triangle companies can help you get what you want.  Thanks to Tar Heel Takeout, Durham Takeout and Raleigh Takeout, food from hot spots such as Shiki Sushi, Satisfaction, Mediterranean Deli,  Shaba Shabu, The Q Shack and more can show up at your door. Just call the appropriate takeout service for your area, pick your restaurant, and order.  With a minimum $10 food order and a $4.99 delivery fee, the staff will do all the restaurant waiting and get your food for you.   919Dine offers the same service for families in Garner, North Hills, Triangle Town, Downtown Raleigh, Brier Creek, Cary, Apex, Morrisville, and Durham.  The delivery fee for 919Dine varies anywhere between $3.99 and $6.99, dependent upon how many miles you live from the restaurant of choice.  However, not only will 919Dine bring you an order from Champas or The Big Easy but you can also get dessert from Cold Stone.  Get 919Dine's app on your phone to make it even easier.

Grab and Go

Of course, gourmet and specialty food stores throughout the Triangle offer cases of pre-made, delicious, and nutritious food for a quick stop to fit any budget.  Fresh Market serves up some remarkable and creative pasta, meats, casseroles, vegetables, and more goodies that you can buy in bulk.  Chapel Hill gourmet behemoth A Southern Season has a similar case filled with delectable eats. Whole Foods Market has a fabulous family dinner option in its refrigerated prepared foods section. Use it to pick a main entrée and side salad to feed a family of four for as little as $14.99. Just reheat and toss for a healthy, well-rounded meal. If you place the food in your own serving ware, no one has to know you didn't cook it yourself!

Whichever service works for you, remember that fresh, healthy meals are only a phone call or click away.  Treat your family, make things easier for yourself, and, above all, remember that you are worth more than frozen lasagna every night.

Personal Chef Services
Cary Dinner Fairy carydinnerfairy.com
Chef Joe at NC Chef for Me chefforme.com

Order-Ahead Family Meal Plan for a Week
Foster's Market fostersmarket.com

Meal Preparation
Dinner Savvy in Apex dinnersavvy.com

Take-Out Delights
Tar Heel Takeout tarheeltakeout.com
Durham Takeout durhamtakeout.com
Raleigh Takeout raleightakeout.com
919Dine 919dine.com)

Grab and Go
The Fresh Market thefreshmarket.com/
A Southern Season southernseason.com
Whole Foods Market wholefoodsmarket.com

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Calendar

June 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
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The summer heat is back, and so are the insects! Join us in the Finley Center exhibit hall to do some fun insect-themed crafts. We will make butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs, and other insect...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Website »

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Read stories together and enjoy an arts and crafts activity based on the books.

Cost: $5

Where:
Read With Me
111 E. Hargett St., #110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  17560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

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Learn more about Earth's amazing star, the sun. Safely view the sun through a solar telescope, hear about unusual space weather and current solar research, and more. International SUNday...

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences Nature Research Center
121 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Telephone: 919.707.8239
Contact Name: Rachel Smith
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Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Age 6 & under free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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The Eno River Farmers Market celebrates its 10th anniversary. Take a blanket and dish to share.

Cost: Free

Where:
Eno River Farmers Market
144 E. Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC
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The summer heat is back, and so are the insects! Join us in the Finley Center exhibit hall to do some fun insect-themed crafts. We will make butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs, and other insect...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Read stories together and enjoy an arts and crafts activity based on the books.

Cost: $5

Where:
Read With Me
111 E. Hargett St., #110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Cost: $20 per session

Where:
Art Therapy Institute of NC
200 N Greensboro St. Suite D-6 (2nd Floor Carr Mill Mall)
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Telephone: 919-381-6068
Website »

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Read stories together and enjoy an arts and crafts activity based on the books.

Cost: $5

Where:
Read With Me
111 E. Hargett St., #110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Whole Foods Market (North Raleigh)
8710 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Cost: Free

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Barnes & Noble
760 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Read stories together and enjoy an arts and crafts activity based on the books.

Cost: $5

Where:
Read With Me
111 E. Hargett St., #110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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Quail Ridge Books
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Cost: Free

Where:
Chatham Marketplace
480 Hillsboro St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Sponsor: Chatham Marketplace
Telephone: 919-542-2643
Contact Name: Craig Kolman
Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Read stories together and enjoy an arts and crafts activity based on the books.

Cost: $5

Where:
Read With Me
111 E. Hargett St., #110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Read stories together and enjoy an arts and crafts activity based on the books.

Cost: $5

Where:
Read With Me
111 E. Hargett St., #110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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Take part in a 5K on a USATF certified course hosted by Inter Development Futbol Club. Enjoy post-race refreshments and prizes for winners. Register online. 

Cost: $25/advance registration; $30/day of race

Where:
WakeMed Soccer Park
201 Soccer Park Dr.
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: Inter Development Futbol
Contact Name: Lydia Matombo
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Cost: Free

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PNC Arena
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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds, Kerr Scott Building
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Website »

More information

Read stories together and enjoy an arts and crafts activity based on the books.

Cost: $5

Where:
Read With Me
111 E. Hargett St., #110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $10-$12

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3900 Bonsal Rd.
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Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 or 3 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's history...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Age 6 & under free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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The Children’s Saturday Matinee series presents performances by three of the acclaimed professional dance companies that perform during the season. These one-hour performances are specially...

Cost: $17.25/person

Where:
Reynolds Industries Theater
Duke University
125 Science Dr.
Durham, NC
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Sponsor: American Dance Festival
Telephone: 919-684-6402
Contact Name: Sarah Tondu
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Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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