There is an old story that cake mixes didn’t take off until manufacturers took out the powdered eggs and let women add their own fresh eggs to the mix. Cracking those eggs allowed women to say they had “made” that cake.
But does the same hold true for dinners? How much help does the home cook want? Where is the sweet spot between getting help with dinner and feeling like you’re cooking for your family?
You know fast food, you know frozen food, you know prepared fresh foods (like rotisserie chicken) and then the stores where you pre-assemble your dinners for the week or month and freeze them.
But now companies such as Blue Apron, Chefday, HelloFresh and Plated are offering similar fresh dinner kits delivered to your home.
“Home-delivered food, of course, is not news, and neither is online shopping. Over the last decade, services like Peapod and FreshDirect have accustomed millions of consumers to buying fresh ingredients online, while frozen-dinner delivery businesses like Schwan’s have sold them on fully prepared meals.
“But the dinner kit aims for a sweet spot somewhere between the bunch of asparagus and the finished asparagus-stuffed salmon. And it addresses some paradoxes peculiar to today’s home kitchens: while Americans, fed a steady diet of TV cooking shows and nutritional news, care increasingly about what they eat, many feel too harried to hunt down new recipes and make dinner from scratch. Yet they remain unwilling to live on takeout and heat-and-eat meals alone.
“John Leeman, the director of marketing for FreshDirect, the New York-based company that has become the nation’s largest all-online grocery, said his company’s research shows that while prepared, or “turnkey,” meals are a cornerstone of its business, customers feel uneasy if they do not cook often enough.
“Heating food up night after night is not what a mom does,” Mr. Leeman said one regular customer told him. “ ‘That’s no better than taking them to McDonald’s.’”
So how do these delivered dinner kits compare price-wise to other options?
According to The Times, home-delivered meal kits run from $7 to $17.50 a serving, more than it would cost to buy the raw ingredients. A precooked version from Schwan’s would run about $6 a serving and from Boston Market about $8.50.
So what do you think: Would you want dinner kits delivered to your home? Have you ever gone to one of those shops to put together meals for a week or a month? Do you regularly use prepared foods from the grocery store or frozen foods?
What level of contribution do you need to feel like you’re “cooking” for your family?