Home-cooked meal solutions

Want to save your precious and limited time and still provide your family with healthy meals without changing your daily routine? Perhaps home delivery of ready to make meals can help you eat at home, save time, and eat well.

Are you on autopilot after a hectic workday and ready to just set your meal planning to cruise control? Are you having difficulty coming up with a menu for dinner and yearn for a complete meal package that includes literally everything needed? If so, then home “you prepare” food delivery is an option you should consider. This type of service can make dinner almost as easy as ordering it in, while eliminating the guilt.

Most ready-to-prepare delivery services have recipes that offer you balanced and delicious meals. You do not have to waste time at the supermarket, which on average is some 90 minutes per week. Speaking of waste, the average American throws away 40 percent of the food they buy. Home-delivered meal solutions are pre-portioned to eliminate unutilized food.

Each ingredient is personally sourced by the provider to assure the customer highest quality and freshness while trying foods by different chefs each week. It allows you to eat better without changing your daily routine so you can cook and enjoy the comfort of your own home.

A helpful benefit of these types of prepackaged meals is their step-by-step color photos that show the major steps in the meal preparation process starting with instructions to prep all the ingredients before cooking. Most importantly, you can prepare the recipes within 30 minutes, cleanup not included.

One such company has kits that contain all the ingredients needed to cook three meals, each feeding 2, 4 or 6 people. Most companies offer a choice between the meat and fish or vegetarian meal plans. By posting the following week’s menu on their website a week in advance, you have the opportunity to make sure the menu looks appealing before ordering. You may skip any week with unappealing dishes or when it doesn’t fit your schedule, but the option of skipping as many deliveries as desired brings addition charge.

The food packages are sent or delivered directly to your home, depending on where you are located. You can expect your package to be delivered or shipped late in the afternoon to suit your work schedule. The weekly-delivered meals are neatly packaged in a cardboard box and lined with ice packs to protect your food and keep it fresh until you arrive home to cook. Meats are vacuum sealed for food safety and require additional preparation time. Even those not in delivery zones have the possibility to get a box shipped to a FedEx Office that accepts FedEx Ground shipments.

So what is the downside? Not having the choice to select what meal you want other than whether it is meat, fish or vegetarian can be frustrating for some. It will be important to check each week’s menu for food allergies or preferences before ordering. Moreover, some dishes don’t quite add up to the price point, but convenience has its price. This service does provide helpful innovation in shopping and meal prep, or simply the worst of both worlds — expensive take-out food you still had to cook yourself.

Are you looking for a method to improve or be a part of this model? Michigan State University Extension educators working with the Michigan State University Product Center counsel aspiring entrepreneurs looking for new opportunities in the food production and distribution arenas.

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