Food & Wine

Technology chomps at the bit

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 Apronand 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

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.

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 Apronlocated 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 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.

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

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.

~by Courtney Paige

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