Everybody needs to eat, thats a pretty simple idea to understand, but its what we eat and how we eat it that seems to very so drastically.
I was lucky to grow up with a stay at home mom who would cook dinner for my siblings and I most nights. We did get take out or go out from time to time, but most meals were homemade and served at the dinner table. Although I will defend my moms cooking as delicious, she would say that she is not much of a cook, in part because she was not particularly interested and also finding the perfect recipe became hard when you had to cook for four kids, one who did not eat cheese or most dairy and a husband who was a vegetarian. Cooking became both a logistical nightmare, and difficult. Two things that it should never be.
Having the luxury of someone who can buy the groceries and then cook the food is something most people do not have, and as everything else in life gets more expensive, fewer and fewer people have in general. This meant there needed to be a way to solve the problem of dinner time.
When my parents were growing up the microwave was just becoming popular, to be fair, my dad was actually a teenager by the time microwaves became an affordable and good sized appliance, but this brought a whole new way of cooking to the American home. With microwaves came microwave meals, for my parents, this was an easy meal for their parents to make after a long day at work and was easy to store in the freezer. And although some people might genuinely enjoy a microwave dinner, it does not come across as healthy and fresh like many consumers are now demanding.
Now there are some people who are too busy to even do most grocery shopping. Typically this has meant that the person has to either go out to dinner or get takeout. This option is still popular because of its convenience, you can even order online from a large number of websites that offer a wide variety of foods. Personally I love takeout because it means I have access to an even larger variety of foods than I could cook, and I do not have to worry about grocery shopping. However, the costs can add up, and it can be hard to track what is in everything you are eating and how fresh it may be.
There is a growing number of people who want to cook their food because it gives them a better understanding and more control of what they are eating. This group typically wants to see fresh produce and meats with more control over the health of their meals. For them, takeout may make sense every now and then, but they typically want to cook. There is also the group that wants to cook but struggles to come up with recipes or find the time to buy the ingredients. For both of these groups, meal kit delivery services are hoping to fill the need.
Some of the more popular services are Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and Plated, although there are many more ranging from typical meals to specializing in certain flavors. These businesses take advantage of well designed websites and applications for smartphones that allow the user some control of the meals they will get that week. These companies are built on a subscription based model and rely on their digital connectivity to communicate with subscribers.
The three named services all follow a relatively similar model, a variety of plans based on the number of people and the nights per week you want to have a planned meal. For Blue Apron and HelloFresh, a plan for two people three nights a week is around $10 per serving, or about $60 per week. Plated is more expensive at $12 per serving. They also all offer plans for families, ranging from two to four nights a week. Although there are cheaper options, the price per meal is fairly competitive with healthy takeout options, if not cheaper. The price also does not account for the time saved grocery shopping as the insulated box is delivered at the start of each week to your home or apartment.
The services rely on their digital platforms to keep customers up to date with the options each week. They all have websites and apps that work similarly to each other. Both allow the customer to choose the meals they would like to cook that week, there are usually a few more options than nights so the customer has some control and does not have to choose a meal they do not like. They also allow the customer to search for and find recipes they have made and enjoyed in the past, so that they can make them again. The focus of these services is to provide and easy to follow set of instructions with the ingredients necessary to prepare delicious fresh meals.
There are some drawbacks to these services, most notably that they do not do full week meal plans and they do not cater to individuals. But using a digital strategy they have been able to provide fresh home cooked meals to more people who otherwise relied on takeout.