Almost ready to eat
Back in my twenties I had this idea for a food service business. I thought there might be a market for meals which were almost ready to eat. The dishes would come to your door, fully assembled. All you had to do was pop something in the oven or add a dressing. I wished that kind of service already existed, so I reasoned others must think the same as me.
I looked into the logistics of what it would take to get a business like that up and running. I would have needed various kinds of licenses, training and approvals for safe handling of food. Even though I was not a trained chef, I figured that stuff was manageable. But, from my tiny kitchen in a rented apartment, getting the right kind of plumbing installed was a deal breaker. I had to let that idea go.
Fast forward to present day and there are meal delivery services everywhere. It turns out consumers are willing to work for their finished dinner, as well. As opposed to only taking the last step or the final touch, today there is still about 30 minutes required to put all the dishes on the table. The choices of menu items are extensive, catering to all the particular eating preferences of modern life.
My original idea has evolved into something quite different. I was thinking prepared lasagna ready for the oven, toss the salad, and cut the bread. In contrast, the menu’s on offer are composed of healthy portions of vegetables, with small amounts of animal protein, or fully balanced vegan options. In effect, a person could eat these every day. In some cases, the nutritional balance is better than what most of us might manage on our own.
All of this comes at a price, of course. The shopping, meal planning and a certain amount of prep has been taken care of. Everything you need has been premeasured, packaged and delivered to your door in a cooler bag. The nutritional data is included with each serving, along with instructions for cooking the whole meal, not just one dish at a time. I put a higher value on this service than what I get charged, because I am guaranteed good results every time.
Evaluating the economics depends on where you live and what your current food budget is. I like to compare the cost to a restaurant, (although I know very few who ever serve enough vegetables). In any case, a typical medium-priced restaurant entrée would run 50% more than the food service we are using. If you were to buy all your own groceries, you might save 50%. However, stocking your kitchen with every conceivable type of spice and condiment is time-consuming and expensive as well, something I’m not factoring in.
On the balance, this kind of service is a life saver for our family. Even after using it only for a week, we can already give this glowing report. The icing on the cake for us is that Fresh Prep is local to our market, sourcing from farmers and vendors in our area.
Catering to the tastes of four different people in a house is a tricky thing. This balancing act is too much for me to manage alone. I also resent being the person who doesn’t get it right. (Yes, that’s a personal problem). But, while I work on that, Fresh Prep gives me a hand. Menu planning with nutritional balance, sourced locally, (within reason), takes a huge load off my mind. Providing for a family in this most basic way is a massive responsibility. By being well fed, every part of our lives is better.
The final upside for me personally is that dinner is on the table when I get home from work. We elected for a Tuesday delivery of 3 meals. That means the bulk of the week, when life is kind of hectic, we are sorted. My family is also learning to cook in a good way. I am not their teacher and I am not making demands for ingredients they might otherwise scoff at me for asking to have. I say win-win for this arrangement.
I have not really saved any time, but this arrangement has made possible, the ability to work with a big commute. While this is something I vowed never to do again, after travelling for a year, things change. Opportunities present themselves. I should know better than to ever say, ‘never again’.
I also appreciate how each of us are playing a role in cooking for the family. This is a life skill and the cornerstone of a good home. While I was happy to serve my family in this way up until recently, it is time to step back and let everyone take a turn. This kind of delivery set-up eases everyone into the habit. Over time and if circumstances change again, we will go back to the old way. I also suspect that as my kids become more proficient, they will want to branch out with different recipes, ones of their own choosing. I am excited for that day to come.
When I see creativity at work, even in cooking meals like this, I get really excited. I think this is akin to building a muscle. I also believe that when the mind fires in a creative way, it doesn’t just stop when the current task at hand is complete. There is a spillover. It is ever so satisfying to watch.
#creaspatreat – Join me in this creative journey. I am on a mission to start a global movement, focusing on the importance of creativity in our daily lives. Together, let us see where we can take this. I look forward to hearing from you! Please share your thoughts. Feel free to send an email to: Christine@dailycreatives.com
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