The back-to-school season is hectic and crazy, with new schedules, new activities, more homework and, well, more of everything except time to spend in the kitchen. Sometimes getting dinner on the table is its own challenge, and planning weekly meals just doesn’t fall into place. If there’s no time to cook, much less hit the grocery store, Memphis now has some great options for picking up prepared meals to take home, heat and eat. Here are our top picks:
8100 Macon Station #102, Cordova • (901) 207-5337
4750 Poplar Ave., Memphis • (901) 207-2597
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Ultimate Foods offers healthy meals based on the 40-40- 20 principle, which is to say 40 percent protein, 40 percent healthy carbs and 20 percent healthy fats, all low on the glycemic index. The meals are simple, but tasty. Chicken Parm features well-seasoned chicken and sauce balanced over brown rice pasta. Black bean enchiladas are spiced and feature a corn tortilla. There are also many gluten-free options available. Ultimate Foods offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for pick up at locations downtown (inside WellWorx Gym), Poplar at Colonial and in Cordova. They also have a weekly meal delivery service.
327 South Main, Memphis • (901) 409-6433
Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Bedrock Eats & Sweets offers organic, whole, unprocessed food with a paleo slant. The location on South Main is a café, with a large cooler full of grass-fed meats, breads and a selection of grab-and-go meals. Dishes like saucy organic Italian sausage meatballs marinara; tender, well-seasoned wild-caught shrimp cakes with spicy aioli, and grass-fed beef enchiladas are tasty and filling. And you can pick up some desserts or breakfast for the next morning. Bedrock Eats also has self-serve kiosks in the Yolo locations on Cooper and in East Memphis.
6300 Poplar Ave., Ste. 110, Memphis • (901) 509-8675
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Julles Posh Food has a range of healthy, fresh options with a menu that changes weekly. The food is unique and packed with flavor. We are big fans, and highlighted Julles in May in this article, “Who’s Getting Fresh? Julles Posh Food Company, That’s Who!” They also offer a no-commitment delivery service. Guests can get fresh meals to go, and takeaway dishes are packed in oven- and microwave-safe trays for easy reheating. With vibrant flavors and fresh ingredients, these are not your average heat-and-eat meals.
800 S. Cooper St., Memphis • (901) 871-6879
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Cooper Street 20/20 owner Kathy Katz focuses on local ingredients used in fresh and interesting ways. The menu of salads, soups and casseroles is both creative and unique. The African peanut soup is a particular favorite, and the Ultimate Mac and Cheese is very good and family pleasing, but look out for their unique special offerings. Chicken Newport, a favorite from the old Harry’s on Teur restaurant, is braised chicken thighs with mushrooms, white wine, oregano, feta and Parmesan. Sign up for the weekly email to see what’s new each week, like crawfish mac and cheese, seafood-stuffed shells or beef pot pie. You can drop in their location at 800 South Cooper or pick up at their booth at the Memphis Farmers Market on Saturdays.
9056 Poplar Pike #109, Germantown • (901) 754-8444
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Katie’s Kitchen in Germantown has a menu of casserole classics, like Rotel chicken spaghetti and King Ranch chicken, but they also offer a few unique options, including a comforting, creamy and satisfying shrimp and wild rice casserole and veggie burritos. Like most of these places, there are the always-available standards, plus weekly rotating specials. Katie’s Kitchen also sells Buntyn Rolls, pillowy rolls from the recipe of the late, lamented Buntyn Café. Meals are sold frozen and are best thawed before cooking, but can be cooked from frozen with enough time.
5030 Poplar Ave., Memphis • (901) 761-4044
Hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Lisa’s Lunchbox is a nice place to stop for a sandwich at lunch, but they also have a large selection of prepared meals to take home from their Freezer Friendzie menu. Poppy seed chicken is an old favorite featuring shredded chicken in a creamy sauce with a classic Ritz cracker topping. Or push out the boat with some zippy Pinky’s Voodoo Pasta, a creamy Cajun-style sauce loaded with chicken and Andouille sausage served over fettuccine. And we’d be remiss not to mention the tangy buffalo chicken ziti. Meals are sold frozen and best thawed before cooking, though they can be cooked from frozen; just make sure to allow enough time.
711 W. Brookhaven Circle, Memphis • (901) 726-6566
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The butcher shop at Porcellino’s is a wonderful and much-needed addition to the Memphis food scene. Of course, you can walk in and grab a few sausages or steaks for the grill, but check out the ice box as well, frequently stocked with handmade pasta and the famous MawMaw’s gravy served at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen. There are also rolls of frozen cookie dough ready to slice and bake and buttermilk biscuits ready to heat. Call ahead to see what’s currently being offered.
504 S. Mendenhall #3, Memphis • (901) 766-9922
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Lucchesi’s has been serving up fresh pasta to Memphis since 1990. It is an easy stop to pick up ready-to-boil ravioli, tortellini and pasta with a choice of mix-and-match sauces. Buy a salad and some dessert, and you’ve got a complete meal. The barbeque ravioli is true Memphis, or try some seafood tortellini with a tub of lemon zest sauce. There are also servings of lasagna, chicken Parmesan and other main meals ready to take home and heat up. Try the tamale blanketed in chili and cheese. Perhaps not an Italian specialty, but they’re really tasty! Lucchesi’s take-and-bake pizza makes a great family dinner, as well. Try the Chicken Alfredo for a twist, with pesto Alfredo sauce, cheese, chicken and sliced tomatoes—no tomato sauce on this one.
5130 Wheelis Drive, Memphis • (901) 761-0287
Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Curb Side Casseroles is the trusty standby for quick, pick-up meals. Owner Bradford Williams starting sharing her homemade casseroles with friends before opening the business in 2007. Family-favorite casseroles, like King Ranch chicken and, our personal pick, almond chicken, are always on the menu, as are delicious Beneva’s dinner rolls, spicy Saltine firecrackers and some cold salads. There are weekly specials that are worth a look on the website or the chalkboard outside their jewel box location on Wheelis. Plus, there’s a drive-through window for extra convenience. Meals are sold frozen and best thawed before cooking, but if you have the time, you can cook from frozen.
Pick up from any of these places and serve them in your own dishes—no one will be the wiser! Dinner on the table has never been easier!