Tag Archives: Meal

All Kitted Out

There is a relatively recent phenomenon in the food world which is our topic this Foodie Friday. I’m talking about the explosion of companies offering food kits. Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh, and others have been joined by Amazon in offering up boxes of already measured and portioned ingredients along with the recipes that tell the cook how to combine and cook everything to create a meal. For busy people, not having to shop for ingredients or to research and think about recipes is a godsend. That said, there are several things I find wrong with meal kits and they just might be helpful as you think about your business as well.

I’ve tried Blue Apron. The food was pretty good and the quality of the ingredients was better than I expected. Not having to shop or to think about what I was making (once I’d chosen the meal from the website) saved time. That said, a less experienced cook wouldn’t really have been able to save much time. You still need to chop vegetables (although I know some kits have them pre-chopped – not great for flavor or texture!). You still need to be able to interpret the recipe and follow the instructions (which contain cooking terms inexperienced people might not quite grasp). And they’re not cheap: $10 per meal per person is generally a lot more than most people spend per portion on home-cooked meals.

The real issue I have is that you’re trying to change habits. How so? Many people dread going to the supermarket but most of the better cooks I know relish shopping. I know that many supermarkets now offer a service where you can shop online and the store will fill your order either for pickup or delivery. I’ve never used them because I’m picky about produce and I’m always looking for opportunistic specials to plan a menu around. That experience is taken away with these kits. You can’t keep them either. Like many folks, I’ll buy ingredients and when my plans change, I can freeze the proteins for later. That doesn’t really work here.

The people who don’t cook don’t do so because they either don’t know how or they don’t like it. They find recipes with more than three steps complicated (these kits often are a lot more). They’re slow – I can chop an onion in under 30 seconds. It might take an inexperienced cook a few minutes. They don’t have tools that make the jobs easier: sharp knives, the right pots and pans, a decent stove, etc. Meal kits don’t solve any of those things as they try to change people’s habits.

Pay more, save time shopping, and worry less doesn’t solve the basic problem: people don’t like to cook and this is an expensive program that doesn’t solve that problem. In addition, you’re adding another issue: managing the subscription online. And customers seem to be finding that as well. Blue Apron reported that customer retention is their number one issue. Business Insider reported that:

According to a new poll by Morning Consult and Money Magazine, 49% of respondents who canceled a meal kit service cited the cost as the biggest reason for their cancellation…Not liking the recipes (13%) and unavailability in their area (15%) were the second biggest factors for those who canceled their service and those who have never tried a meal kit service.

As we try to solve consumer’s problems we need to be sure we’re actually doing so, and doing so in a way that doesn’t create other problems. I’m not sure that meal kits meet that test. You?

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Filed under Consulting, food

The Thanksgiving Menu’s Business Tip

Thanksgiving Turkey

Happy Cooking Day!  What?  You’re waiting until tomorrow to get going?  Well, maybe you’re better organized than I am.  Today, in between phone calls, emails, and project work, is spent baking the pies, turning the stock we made yesterday into gravy, prepping vegetables, making the appetizers, and many other little things so that we can get tomorrow’s feast in front of everyone all at once and on time.  Those of you with frozen turkeys should have them thawing (maybe in your bathtub if space is an issue?).

The menu we offer this year is the same as last year’s and most prior years.  Frankly, I find it kind of boring to make.  But therein lies the business lesson. Continue reading

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Filed under Helpful Hints

The Three F’s

I started to write a Thanksgiving post and for inspiration I went back and looked at what I wrote last year.  You know what?  Like the holiday we celebrate here in the USA today, what’s going on around here hasn’t changed much so I’m reposting the tome below.

To those of you who had a great 2009, give thanks.  To those of you who didn’t, give thanks it’s almost over and 2010 looks better.  Let’s all of us give thanks that we’re here to enjoy the holiday and the three F’s it represents.
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Filed under food, Helpful Hints, Reality checks, What's Going On