My mother-in-law likes to gift gourmet meals in a box. Since we live so far away, it is the perfect gift.  With the 2012 launch of Blue Apron, the first online meal delivery subscription service, gift choices for the foodies or cooks in our lives have increased significantly. Here are my top picks.

Meal Delivery: I tried a couple online mail subscriptions and was impressed by the quality of ingredients, ease of ordering, and inclusion of eco-friendly packaging. Popular companies like Hello Fresh and Martha Stewart’s Plated deliver fresh ingredients in cold packaging, which must be immediately refrigerated. They also include detailed instructions on preparing your meal and offer a variety of gluten-free, vegetarian, and other diet-friendly choices. The meals I tested were quite tasty, but portions were a little small for us. Of the top-rated services in the U.S., Sun Basket caters to the most food allergies and diets, Veestro is 100% plant-based, Blue Apron offers the best pricing ($7.49/serving), and ButcherBox delivers grass-fed meats. Stay Idaho local with Family Dinners or vegan salads delivered by Lucid Roots with Dani Lundquist in Coeur d’Alene. Follow this company on Facebook or Instagram for menus and ordering instructions. Give a subscription to the cook in your own kitchen or buy a gift card for a set number of meals for friends.

Snack Boxes: Snacks are great stocking stuffers, and companies like Urthbox, Nature Box, and Graze make healthy snacking easy and adventurous. Like meals, these online delivery services are usually subscriptions. They can seem a little sparse (sample sized packages or limited selection), but they often supplement with coupons and online codes for additional snack foods. PaleoPax specializes in paleo-friendly snacking. Daily Harvest serves smoothies, harvest bowls, and lattes.

Something Special: Whether it’s a monthly bottle of wine through Winc, cocktail inspiration with Flaviar Whiskey Club, or a craft coffee discovery with Angel’s Cup, it’s easy to go online and gift something truly special to that exceptional person in your life. Surprise your partner with a date night from Datebox or create your own food gift with local products like Savor Tooth paleo pizza crust, a mini apple pie from Bean & Pie, or Apple Cider Syrup from Athol Orchards. //