CONVENIENT QUALITY: Launched as a family meal solution in April 2023 by Sophie McNally, Kitchenette just added Bettina pizzas to its menu of frozen foods that are delivered to doorsteps from Goleta to Summerland every Wednesday and Saturday. | Credit: Courtesy

Like so many food companies conceived during the pandemic, the frozen dinner delivery service Kitchenette blends convenience with quality, preparing family-sized, one-pan meals of fresh, healthy ingredients that customers merely heat up in their ovens. Since launching last April, Kitchenette added smaller portions aimed at busy couples or single professionals without much time to cook, as well as separately packaged side dishes and desserts. And just last week, the company announced a partnership with Montecito’s popular Bettina Pizzeria, whose margherita and white pies can now go straight from your freezer to your oven to your tummy. 

Sophie McNally | Credit: Blake Bronstad

“Kitchenette started as a way to meet my own needs,” said founder Sophie McNally, the daughter of the famed restaurateur behind New York City hotspots Pastis and Balthazar. “I love to cook, but it’s a whole different ballgame once you have kids. I felt like there wasn’t a great option for the nights when I was in a pinch and wanted to have a family dinner.”

She was not a fan of the many meal kit subscription services that kicked off during COVID, finding it stressful to stay on top of the scheduled shipments. She couldn’t find healthy options in the frozen food aisles of grocery stores, and if she did, they tended to be made for individuals rather than families, and she cherishes sitting down and eating together. “I can’t think of anything more depressing than sitting down and each unpacking our own meals,” said McNally, who also became concerned about the astonishing amount of waste that the food industry creates. 

“I started freezing a lot of simple meals during the pandemic,” explained McNally, who moved to town in the summer of 2021. “That’s what really got me thinking about frozen food for families.”

She is battling the stigma that surrounds frozen food in the United States. “My impression is that it comes from the association with TV dinners from the 1950s,” explained McNally. “Just because those were mass-marketed and poor-quality doesn’t mean that you can’t have things frozen that are really good quality. The freshest peak flavor and nutrition is preserved when you freeze something, and it’s often better than if you went through the typical supply chain.”

She recognized the success of the frozen food store Picard in France, where nearly 1,000 stores sell these sorts of dishes all across the country. “If it’s good enough for the French people, frozen food could be good enough for Americans, even those with discerning palates,” she believes. 

My family tried three of the $48 meals: the 100 percent plant-based Buddha Bowl, whose coconut-spinach chickpeas, maple-roasted sweet potatoes, and beluga lentils are topped in avocado tahini dressing and roasted almonds; the Harvest lasagna, whose “cheesy goodness” soaks into the butternut squash and gluten-free brown rice pasta, with parsley walnut pesto and roasted leeks on the side; and the Santa Maria BBQ chicken, which is tangy in sauce and served atop ranchero beans, corn-pea succotash, and buttered broccoli. 

With our own homemade salad on the side, the dishes easily fed the four of us, and I even had some leftovers from all of them. The heating process is about as simple as it gets: just plop it in at the designated temperature and wait. My sense is that it’s almost impossible to overcook the meals, so there’s not even much stress when it comes to the simple act of watching the cooking time. And since it is not subscription-based — that’s a new option, though — you needn’t fret to stay on schedule. You just order meals to be delivered on Wednesdays and Saturdays when McNally and team run their routes from Goleta to Summerland. 

Bettina’s Brendan Smith and Rachel Greenspan | Credit: Courtesy

I’ve yet to try the Bettina pies, but that collaboration with Rachel Greenspan and Brendan Smith’s beloved eatery is sure to amplify the young Kitchenette, which is just growing by word-of-mouth right now. The blast-frozen margherita ($20) features tomatoes, mozzarella, basic, olive oil, and salt on Betttina’s homemade dough, while the white pie ($23) pairs mozzarella, fontina, cherry tomatoes, basil, and house-made pork sausage on the same crust. 

“On busy nights at the restaurant, quote times for pizzas can get up to two to three hours, or we aren’t able to accommodate every order,” said Greenspan. “We’re hoping that this is an easy way for our regulars and patrons to get better access to our pizza to enjoy at home.”

The meals can stay in the freezer for at least three months — “most of the food industry says they last a year, but we’re being conservative,” said McNally — serving as an “emergency plan” for those days when you’re too tired to cook but hungry enough to eat a full meal. 

And every one of the meals, which change a bit seasonally, is run through the judging panel of McNally’s own children. “I made my kids taste test everything,” she said. “We’ve tried to make meals that both kids and parents can enjoy.”



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