Technology Chomps at the Bit

Please join me in welcoming Courtney Paige to A News Cafe.com. She is a Sonoma County journalist and blogger of many talents who wears many hats. You’ll learn more about her in an upcoming Q&A and her many columns, but in the meantime, here’s her first post. Enjoy! – Doni 

America’s eating habits are changing as fast as technology changes while gourmet meal delivery has people taking a byte out of traditional meal planning.

We’ve come a long way since ‘Super Size Me’ hit the mainstream and created a cultural culinary shift with how we view nutrition as a nation.

People are trading their microwave instant dinners and quick on-the-go pre-made Whole Foods meals for gourmet, organic, home delivery meals. Quick, frozen food dinners are taking a backseat to fresh ingredient service meal companies like GobbleSun Basket, Blue Apron, and Hello Fresh.

Families are busier than ever, so the need for effortless meals hasn’t changed. What has changed though, is the demand for fresh healthy ingredients. The anxiety that accompanies planning healthy meals weighs heavily on the average person’s mind. Thinking of new original recipes is a constant challenge – especially if you are cooking for more than one person.

From New York to San Francisco, gourmet innovative fresh meal services have taken the stress out of dinner planning for millions of Americans across the nation. Many people describe the experience like it’s a weekly Christmas gift. Each delivery includes a fancy recipe brochure for each meal with step-by-step instructions and cute little-labeled ingredient bottles.

My friend Catherine likes Gobble. She said her husband – who never cooked in the past – now has dinner waiting when she arrives home from work. As an added bonus, he tries to match the meal to the brochure picture. She said, “He’s often spot on, and, if this gets him excited in the kitchen, I’m all for it.”

Photo courtesy of Gobble www.gooble.com

Photo courtesy of Gobble www.gooble.com

Yet, home meal delivery isn’t for everyone. Susan, another friend of mine said with Blue Apron, she feels as though she can easily gather the ingredients and craft recipes herself. For Susan, all the packaging is a waste, and the concept is pointless.

My neighbor Jennifer however, loves the convenience! She’s a single mom with a demanding job and little time. She settled on Hello Fresh, and said, “It’s the best innovation in the world.” Jennifer thinks the best part of using the service is the amount of time she saves by not schlepping to the grocery store for obscure ingredients. An added perk; recreate your favorite meals from the reusable glossy recipe brochure. The icing on the cake; she’s saving money due to less waste from over buying or rotting food.

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Photo courtesy of Hello Fresh – www.hellofresh.com

Organic gourmet dinner delivery isn’t a fad. It’s just beginning to simmer. For instance, Blue Apron, located in New York, is one of the largest & fastest growing food technology companies. Proving this point, they recently purchased Niman Ranch, a local Bolinas cattle company that has been supplying high-end restaurants with grass-fed beef for decades.

I’m tempted to try Blue Apron. I liked their support of a local farmer concept. They’re implementing programs that operate more like a Community Supported Agriculture(CSA) than a technology gourmet food delivery system. The fact that they purchased Niman Ranch is an incredible accomplishment and shows their commitment to quality products. According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, the original owner of Niman Ranch will stay on with Blue Apron as a quality control consultant.

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy of Blue Apron www.blueapron.com

Sun Basket is a Northern California local company, but they had too many comments on their review page reporting bad customer service. For example, once they have your credit card reviewers say, you’re locked in, and no one responds to email inquiries.

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Photo courtesy of Sun Basket www.sunbasket.com

After all my research, and despite Blue Apron’s accolades, my family decided on Hello Fresh. The reason is, Hello Fresh allows customers to refine menus to more than just vegetarian, organic or pescatarian. Hello Fresh seems to have the most options with the most flexibility. Prices on all services average around $60 a week for six meals. That’s about $10 for a gourmet meal you don’t have to shop for; count me in!

Photo courtesy of Hello Fresh – A weekly surprise

Photo courtesy of Hello Fresh – A weekly surprise

Our first delivery should arrive within ten days, so look for an update on our journey joining millions of Americans in this new food phenomena.

Courtney Paige
A writer with a passion for travel, wine, food and lifestyle writing, Courtney loves sharing hidden gems of the world near and far. Her blog, Good to Know, features articles about ‘all things good to know’ touching on an array of genre’s. Topics range from food & wine, travel & leisure home & garden, beauty & fashion, to community & spirituality. She shares practical information you can use in your daily life while having a chuckle or two along the way. Courtney’s artistic photographic compositions beautifully reflect the subject matter. She also includes links to key sites and resources featured in her blog. You don’t know, what you don’t know, and there are lots of good things to know so take a visual journey with her through peaks, valleys, swish and swirls.
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17 Responses

  1. Darcie says:

    Welcome to a ANC!   Your article was timely in that I have been exploring this option of meal preparation.   I  look forward to a follow-up after you have had your deliveries for awhile.  So far, the people who I know have tried them have only subscribed  for a short period of time.    I would  also love to hear feedback from  other who have their  food boxes delivered.  Pros and Cons.

    • Hi Darcie – thank you so much for a lovely welcome 🙂 I’m happy to hear this article gave you some insight to this new trend of convenient, healthy and  nutritious meal planning. So far it’s been great! We love it! My 13-year-old daughter loves to open the box and get everything organized. The recipes are easy to follow so she also feels confident enough to create an entire gourmet meal on her own.

      Of course there are pros and cons for all things. So far we find there are more pros than cons. One element I do suggest looking out for is, make sure to stay on top of meal selections. Hot tip – select meals in far advance as the service allows. When Hello Fresh sends a reminder email to pick your goods – get right on it because – they only give a 24 hour notice and if you delay, Hello Fresh picks the meals for you. Of course, all their meal choices are excellent, but to insure 100% satisfaction be proactive.

  2. cheyenne says:

    It is not just food that is being delivered.  Supurb of Tempe, AZ delivers medical marijuana and has almost 5,000 customers.  They plan on increasing in the Phoenix area and next year move into Colorado and Maryland.

  3. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    We’ve considered trying such a service when the school year starts again. This was illuminating.

    Welcome to A News Cafe, Courtney.

    • Thank you Hal. I agree, this is a perfect service for busy parents with kids during the school year. We have found summer a bit more loose in our meal planning. I like that customers can place delivery schedules on hold. It’s just like anything else in life – it must be managed. Given the choice – I love going on the computer and ordering without having to make a trip to the grocery store.

  4. Darbie says:

    We have used Hello Fresh and loved it. Never a problem and never disappointed in the quality, the innovative recipes, the detailed simple recipe cards. Always great and we still use the recipe cards. We quit the service temporarily because we ended up with a house full of temporary residents but we will start again.

     

  5. #Truthismessy says:

    I wish there was a service priced between Schwan’s frozen ($2-4/person per meal) and these alphabet-free fresh meals in expensive insulated packaging ($10-13/person).

    Give me ddt & gmos — I’m too old for it to make a difference at this point.

  6. Hi Truthismessy – love the handle. And, I also appreciate your honesty and candor. Thank you. I struggled as well with the insulation and packaging aspect of the service but was able to rationalize that my carbon footprint is either lessoned or canceled out due to less grocery store runs gathering ingredients for healthy meals.

    Regarding the ddt and gmo’s – I have heard this comment from many folks and I totally get what you are saying. For some it matters and for others it’s moot.

  7. Beverly Stafford says:

    How do the ingredients get to one’s door – UPS?  FedEx?  USPS?

  8. Michael Karas says:

    Check out Abundant Harvest Organics…they used to deliver in Redding.  They, currently UPS fresh produce weekly, their produce is wonderful!

  9. name says:

    Blue Apron lost $59 million last year, so we will see if they can make it.  Interesting that they bought Niman Ranch – are they in the ranch biz, or the food delivery business?

    Amazon tried this 10 years ago, and it did not pencil out.  Also Spoonrocket and another one, Maple? are already bust.

    Once Amazon finishes buying Whole Foods, they will have an unprecedented footprint and delivery network that nobody else will be able to compete with.

  10. Truthismessy says:

    Amazon just filed for a trademark for its own meal-kit; Blue Apron shares drop over 10%: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-blue-apron-hldg-amazon-stocks-idUSKBN1A21X1?feedType=RSS&feedName=newsOne&google_editors_picks=true

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