Pros and Cons
Many dietary meal options
"Set up call" to assist with first-time orders
Can send meals as gifts
Shipping can be expensive
Some meals were unappealing and unappetizing
Inaccurate heating times provided
MagicKitchen.com is a prepared frozen meal service that caters to older people and adults and families with busy lives. The company appeals to many dietary needs, including renal- and dialysis-friendly, low sodium, and gluten-free. Customers can choose from a variety of a la carte options, such as soups and salads, or complete meals, which are all flash frozen.
MagicKitchen.com may be right for people who have recently been discharged from the hospital and require easy-to-prepare, “heat and eat” meals. These meals also can be given as sympathy gifts, or to new parents, college students, and others who might appreciate the ease of this type of meal service. We tested several MagicKitchen meals to see what this service is all about.
How It Works: 2 Plans Available
MagicKitchen.com offers two types of meal plans: an a la carte option to build the meals you want or need or fully prepared meals. You may enroll in a recurring meal plan or subscription, or do a one-time order for yourself, or for sending to a recipient. Older people are encouraged to call and speak to a customer service representative to see if their healthcare plan can help offset the costs of the meals.
The service ships via FedEx or UPS from the company's Kansas City, Kansas, location, and we found shipping to be quite expensive. In July 2021, we paid $26.45 on a Tuesday for a FedEx ground delivery for Friday. This was the least expensive option. Overnight shipping was $92.26.
Choosing Meals: Select Whatever You Like
Navigation for selecting the two aforementioned types of meals can be found at the website's header and sidebar. You can also filter by meal type: breakfast, lunch/dinner, snacks, and dessert. You can further filter by a bevy of dietary needs: diabetic, portion-controlled, dialysis-friendly, renal diet, dairy-free, gluten-free, low fat, low sodium, low carb, senior diet, and vegetarian.
Additionally, MagicKitchen.com offers a large category of gift package options with curated meals appropriate for a special occasion or need. For example, you could send a bundle of prepared frozen foods as a condolence or sympathy gift package that includes beef bourguignon with magic mashed potatoes; salmon caponata with fresh-cut corn medley; chicken ana luisa, polenta with spinach, and roasted peppers; and smoked boneless pork loin, vegetable stew for two servings for a total of $167.99. Other gift bundles offered include college meals, birthday meals, corporate gifts, and new parents packages.
When perusing meals on each menu page, small, colorful icons are listed under each recipe to help you select the right dietary choice, such as low sodium, gluten-free, or dialysis-friendly. The company also states whether a particular meal is out of stock, and provides the date when the meal will be available again, which is helpful for those who like to repeatedly order a particular dish.
What We Made
We selected the signature MagicKitchen.com complete meals and chose a mix of vegetarian, seafood, meat, poultry, and a breakfast egg dish. All of the meals were made for one portion, some required a microwave, and some were gluten-free. We tried to order a few bestsellers to get a sense of the popular dishes.
Here is what we made:
- Cheese tortellini with pesto and mixed vegetables
- Beef short ribs, chayote black bean succotash, and Oaxacan inspired mole
- Chicken breast with mushroom marsala sauce, vegetables, and mashed red potatoes
- Salmon caponata with orzo and spinach
- Cheese omelet, broccoli, and cinnamon apples
Support Materials: Catalogue for Future Ordering
Our package included a catalog, which was placed on the exterior of the delivery box and wrapped tightly in plastic. The catalog identifies and shows a list of items available to order alongside pricing. Options include homestyle soups, bread, magic skillet dishes, meats, poultry, pasta, sides, desserts, and complete meals.
Packaging: Styrofoam and Lots of Dry Ice
The delivery box arrived via FedEx in a large white styrofoam box plastic-wrapped, which was helpful as our delivery was made on a rainy day. Inside of the white styrofoam box was a stapled packet of papers with a packing list and an important reminder printed out, explaining how to remove meals from the cooler; dry ice precautions; reheating instructions; information about the company’s guarantee; and reviews and comments. Below the paper instructions was a cardboard box that was taped shut. Within the cardboard box were packing bubbles and the flash-frozen meals.
Beneath the box containing the food was a piece of brown paper and five bags of dry ice in five plastic bags.
Some meals were placed in black trays with a plastic lid and a sticker label with the title of the meal, cooking instructions, ingredients, and nutritional facts. Others were wrapped in plain white sleeves and placed in papery-plastic trays, sealed in plastic. Stickers were also included with the same information as above.
The Cooking Process: Mostly Microwave With Uneven Heating
Most of our meals had cooking issues when microwaved. We’d usually start with the minimum heating instructions and then add from there. For example, with the beef short rib dish, we followed the instructions for heating for 3 to 5 minutes. We heated for 3 minutes and some of the sauce had burned, yet most of the dish was cold and the beef was still partially frozen.
When we microwaved the chicken marsala dish, we started with the minimum time, but the meal was still frozen so we added the additional 2 minutes. After we inspected the dish, parts of the marsala sauce had burned to a crisp as well. The salmon caponata dish also did not heat evenly or thoroughly. And, unfortunately, the apple sauce in the egg omelet also burned during the cooking process.
We did not experience heating issues with the pasta pesto dish.
One other note: We found that, for the meals that were microwaved in the papery-plastic trays, it was difficult to remove the plastic film after they were heated. The heating instructions said to keep the film in place as the heat of the microwave was supposed to lift the film. However, the corners of the tray kept ripping when we’d try to remove the plastic film, which was frustrating.
Flavor, Freshness, and Quality: Flash-Frozen, Bland Meals
Overall, our tasting panel found the meals to be unexciting and a bit unappetizing, akin to grocery store frozen food. The first meal our tasting panel tried was a tortellini pesto with mixed vegetables. The vegetables included chopped-up carrots, peas, corn, string beans, and lima beans, similar to the frozen mixed medley you may have grown up with. The vegetables were mushy and overcooked. The pesto was quite mild and we could barely taste the basil or cheese in the sauce.
Our tasting panel had a difficult time enjoying the short rib meal. The only heating instructions provided were for microwaves and we don’t love microwaving meat, especially beef. We followed the heating instructions and managed to overcook the sauce in some places and underheat it in others. The dish had an overall unappealing appearance. The beef looked dry, the mole sauce was partially burned and undercooked, and the vegetables looked like another frozen medley. Upon tasting, once the short rib was cooked through, it was tender but the rest of the meal had an off-taste and was a bit unappetizing.
Upon inspecting our chicken marsala out of the freezer, the entire entree looked freezer-burned. We cooked it in the microwave for 3 minutes as instructed, and most of the meal was cold, so we cooked for an additional 2 minutes. After it was cooked for a total of 5 minutes, the marsala sauce looked very unappetizing; part of the sauce was burned and had nearly crusted over, and the other part of the sauce looked almost like dried baby food. The chicken had a freezer taste as did the mashed potatoes. This was not one of our favorite dishes.
The salmon caponata had some strengths and weaknesses. The orzo was mushy with a lack of flavoring despite the basil and caper, but the actual caponata sauce was well seasoned. Unfortunately, we found the salmon to be dry as it was heated in the microwave.
The egg omelet we tasted was a bit watery and the cheese was reminiscent of creamy processed cheese. The applesauce had burned in some spots and was very tart, and the broccoli didn’t have any seasoning so it was quite bland.
All in all, we encountered cooking and flavoring issues with nearly all of our MagicKitchen.com dishes.
We followed the heating instructions and managed to overcook the sauce in some places and underheat it in others.
Nutritional Value: Serves a Variety of Dietary Needs
MagicKitchen.com tends to be marketed toward older people or discharged hospital patients who require specific dietary needs. Many of our meals tended to be low in calories, high in protein, and also higher in fat and sodium.
Here is a nutritional breakdown of each of the meals our tasting panel tried:
- Cheese tortellini with pesto and mixed vegetables: 770 calories, 35g fat, 9g saturated fat, 85g carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 30g protein, 6g sugar, 67mg cholesterol, 1000mg sodium
- Beef short ribs, chayote black bean succotash, and Oaxacan inspired mole: 520 calories, 34g fat, 12g saturated fat, 38g carbohydrates, 12g fiber, 19g protein, 5g sugar, 50mg cholesterol, 1290mg sodium
- Chicken breast with mushroom marsala sauce, vegetables, and mashed red potatoes: 320 calories, 9g fat, 4g saturated fat, 37g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 24g protein, 4g sugar, 85mg cholesterol, 1020mg sodium
- Salmon caponata with orzo and spinach: 280 calories, 14g fat, 2g saturated fat, 7g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 34g protein, 4g sugar, 70mg cholesterol, 240mg sodium
- Cheese omelet, broccoli, and cinnamon apples: 250 calories, 13g fat, 5g saturated fat, 10g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 13g protein, 12g sugar, 245mg cholesterol, 600mg sodium
MagicKitchen.com Is Good For
MagicKitchen.com is good for older people and individuals who may be interested in homestyle, one-serving meals that can be made in minutes, and who may require special diets, such as diabetes- and renal-friendly foods.
MagicKitchen.com Is Not Good For
MagicKitchen.com is not good for people who enjoy cooking and appreciate fresh, home-cooked gourmet meals.
Add-ons: A La Carte
Since MagicKitchen.com is essentially a mail-order meal service, you can select any of the a la carte items, such as soups and bread; main courses and sous vide meals; side servings of vegetables and grains; and desserts.
Customer Service: Warm and Friendly
MagicKitchen.com offers telephone support, email, and online form assistance. The company also offers a call-back system. On the top navigation header, click on “Meal Programs,” and select “Set Up Call.” After filling out a brief questionnaire about the best time to be reached, a customer service representative will call you to help you get started. We thought that was a nice feature for folks who are new to ordering food services online. An international phone line is also available for customers calling from outside the U.S. We used the online submission form to ask a question about what to do if a meal appears to be frost burned. We sent in our question on a Tuesday and received an automated email that our message was received, but we did not receive an email response.
We also used the direct phone number and were immediately connected to a warm and friendly customer service representative who was kind and helpful. We asked her about the freezer burn and she assured us that meals are flash-frozen when they are warm, so oftentimes crystals appear on the food, but the food itself is not freezer burned.
Making Changes and Canceling: Easy
While MagicKitchen.com does offer a subscription program, you can use the service and order the meals without creating a subscription, which is great, especially if you plan to use the meals to send to a recipient as a gift.
The Competition: MagicKitchen.com vs. Mom’s Meals
MagicKitchen.com and Mom’s Meals are two homestyle prepared meal companies that offer many dietary options without the need for a subscription. MagicKitchen.com delivers flash-frozen meals and Mom’s Meals are all refrigerator-ready. Overall, we found the cooking times and flavor profile of Mom’s Meals more preferable than those of MagicKitchen.com.
We really enjoyed the concept of having a service designed to send meals to loved ones, or to people who may be in need of a delivery meal service after a hospital stay, but unfortunately, most of our meals were unevenly heated and unappetizing.
We spent numerous hours looking through 48 meal delivery services’ websites, ordered meals and cooked them at home, photographed the process, spoke with customer service representatives from the companies, filled out detailed surveys about each company and their meals, and wrote in-depth reviews and comparison articles. Our expert panel includes dieticians, chefs, and long-time food writers. The one thing they all have in common is their love and knowledge of food.
The criteria we used to evaluate each company included:
- The ordering process
- Meal selection
- Packaging and support materials
- The cooking process
- The flavor, freshness, and quality of each meal and ingredient
- Nutritional information
- Customer service
- Product Name MagicKitchen.com
- Lowest Price per Serving $12
- Number of Diets Served 11
- Number of Recipes 28
- Delivery Area 49 States
- Serving Sizes Available 1