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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February 2017

Take a magical journey through China's divine culture. Classical dance, music and storytelling highlight this live show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $70-$150

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC
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Enjoy a nature-themed fairy tale and build a fairy home. Ages 2-10. Register online. Choose course #200057.

Cost: $3/child

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Chase away the winter blues with a hike through the winter garden. After the walk, warm up inside with a book and winter craft. Meet at the visitor center. Ages 3-12. Register online.

Cost: $5/child

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University
4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
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Hear the old-time folk band based in Raleigh that plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, and other instruments, including the saw. Free tickets for the concert are distributed while they last beginning at...

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Preschoolers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Ages 3-5 enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Teens in grades 6-10 read, create and take on challenges.  March is the month of movie release parties, including "Logan" and "The Beauty and the Beast." Build circuits and...

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Toddlers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
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You will be looking out your window when something wonderful comes your way. You will want to keep him. You and your alien will strike up a fabulous friendship and all will go well. Until bedtime....

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Babies enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Website »

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Camp S.W.A.G. (Students With Ambitions & Goals) will be hosting a series of free Girls' Group Mentoring Seminars open to all middle and high school girls 13-19 years of age. Register...

Cost: Free

Where:
West Regional Library
4000 Louis Stephens Dr.
Cary, NC  27519
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Sponsor: Camp S.W.A.G. (Students With Ambitions & Goals)
Telephone: 919-443-5866
Contact Name: Sherry Pulcher
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Celebrate Mardi Gras with a parade at 7 p.m., followed by live entertainment at area venues. All ages.

Cost: Free

Where:
CCB Plaza
201 Corcoran St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Durham Mardi Gras
Contact Name: Kathy Violette
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Toddlers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Preschoolers enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Website »

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Explore colonial life for kids and their families during the Revolutionary War. Ages 6-9. Register online.

Cost: $1/member, $3/nonmember

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Telephone: 919-807-7988
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Join others for an easy paced hike around the greenway. Ages 3 and younger; older siblings, strollers and leashed pets welcome. Register online. Choose course #199060.

Cost: Free

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Center
950 Peterson Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

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Babies enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Discover nature with a story, followed by outdoor, hands-on nature exploration and a craft. Meet at the Beech Shelter. Ages 2–5. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Website »

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Create a barrel necklace. Ages 12 and older. Registration required.

Cost: $22.50 plus $8 materials fee

Where:
Durham Arts Council
120 Morris St.
Durham , NC  27701
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Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2726
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Adam Savage, co-host of the hit TV show "Mythbusters," and Michael Stevens, creator of award-winning YouTube Channel “Vsauce,” can’t wait to unleash their collective...

Cost: $39.50 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Learn what choices folks made in North Carolina before and during the Revolutionary War. Ages 10-13. Register online.

Cost: $1/member, $3/nonmember

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Join others on an easy-paced hike around the park to explore what's happening in nature. Ages 5 and younger. Register online. Choose course #200087

Cost: Free

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Registration required.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Enjoy a craft, activity and a guided walk along the greenway. Ages 2-6.  Register online. Choose course #199101.

Cost: $3

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Center
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Preschoolers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
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
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Cost: $12-$35

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durha, NC  27701
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Dig In to community, healthy food access and learning. The 8th Annual Dig In informs adults about how to start and maintain community, school and child care gardens, along with local trends in...

Cost: $15 early bird registration; $25 regular rate

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC
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Sponsor: Advocates for Health in Action (AHA)
Telephone: 919-210-0310
Contact Name: Michele McKinley
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Join bird enthusiast, Vernon, for an easy walk while looking and listening for our feathered friends. Discover different types of birds and their habitats.​ Meet at the Waterwise Garden.

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

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Kids learn how to make a beaded wind chime  Best suited for ages 3 and older  (though some of the little ones might need a little more parental assistance). Register online. This class...

Cost: free

Where:
Garden Supply Company
1421 Old Apex Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
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Sponsor: Garden Supply Company
Telephone: 919-460-7747
Contact Name: Gretchen
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Enjoy demonstrations, youth safety preparedness activities, solar cooking and more. Register online.  

Cost: Free

Where:
St. Paul AME Church
402 W. Edenton St
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Youth Exploration Services, PreparednessMojo Media & Triangle Tribune
Telephone: 919-832-2709
Contact Name: Flo Avery
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Make your own candle.

Cost: Free. Suggested donation of $1/person.

Where:
Historic Stagville
5828 Old Oxford Hwy
Durham, NC  27712
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Sponsor: Historic Stagville
Telephone: 919-620-0120
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Families enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the history of pigs in North Carolina and cast your vote for what you think is the best kind of pork barbecue. All ages with adult. Registration required.

Cost: $5/family

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Enjoy the story about hardworking trucks that get ready to say goodnight.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Website »

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Durham Bulls fans can take batting practice on the field, enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the DBAP and photo opportunities with Wool E. Bull, purchase single-game tickets at the ballpark and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Bulls Athletic Park
409 Blackwell St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

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Learn about what lives in a vernal pool. Peek into the ponds with dip nets, meet live critters, and learn about the wonders and mysteries of life in this environment. Ages 6 and older with adult....

Cost: $8/member, $10/nonmember

Where:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
100 Old Mason Farm Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
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Sponsor: North Carolia Botanical Garden
Telephone: 919-537-3370
Contact Name: Elisha Taylor
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Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park Community Center
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Take part in a fun family-friendly scavenger hunt to look for things found around the preserve in winter. Warm up inside after the hunt with a cup of hot cocoa and a craft. Ages 5 and older with...

Cost: $6/child

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Website »

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Learn about the interesting life cycle of these elusive amphibians, see some up close, then head out to search the temporary wetlands along the trail for eggs, larvae and adults.  Register...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

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Seven delightful stories come to life in a music revue performed by Theatreworks USA. Books featured in the show include "Teacher from the Black Lagoon," "Dogzilla,"...

Cost: $12/person

Where:
Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27695
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Sponsor: NC State LIVE
Telephone: 919-515-1100
Contact Name: Mark Tulbert
Website »

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