Meal kits – chop chop flop

29 Oct 2019

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Meal kits – chop chop flop

Do It Yourself meal kits have been around since the early 2000’s and rose quickly in popularity. Globally the business size is well over $2B. So why has this service become so popular?

Most of these companies win customers with a free meal or a discount on their first order. With pre measured ingredients and easy to follow instructions they offer a solution to busy people who wanted to prepare fresh meals for. Some companies even offer specific menu’s catering to special diets such as Paleo, Vegetarian or Keto. As a concept it seems like a great solution to a common problem.

But all good things come with a downside. They offer fixed menus in rotation and limited options for variety. The portions don’t generally allow for left overs and the packaging creates a bulky excess amount of trash or recycling to deal with. Not to mention the work of actually preparing the food. Although they advertise saving time, by allowing you to skip a trip to the grocery store. They usually don’t provide more than a few meals a week, so you still end up at the store to buy staples. You also still have all the work of chopping, cooking and cleaning up after the meal. A task that is less time consuming for singles then for families.

Although this industry quickly blossomed, the bloom might be fading from the rose a bit. Blue Apron is the largest and most widely used meal kit delivery service (Followed by Hello Fresh and Plated.) Although they seem to be able to easily lure in customers with free meals and trial packs, they have trouble maintaining a customer base long term. In fact Blue Apron’s stock has dropped precipitously since its IPO in 2017. Per meal costs or around $10 without leftovers is an issue.

In conclusion these services fill a need for some consumers. Or are at the very least a good short-term solution for people who need a few quick easy meals in a busy season. But in the long-term families are still looking for something better. Something that actually saves time, produces less waste, and offers variety, and healthy food prepared from fresh ingredients. All at an affordable cost.

Allowing our Genies to cook you a fresh healthy meal in your own kitchen may go towards solving the problem that some of the DIY meal kit companies could not solve.

Refernces:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-meal-kit-delivery-service-market-worth-usd-8-94-billion-by-2025-hexa-research-300811555.html

https://slate.com/business/2017/06/blue-apron-customer-retention-low.html


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30 Oct 2019

Workarounds to cooking are ubiqitous. From food delivery apps to meal kits. Quietly, unobserved by mainstream food industry, private individuals are selling meals right from their own kitchens. Allowing neighbors to pick up from their homes or offering delivery or meet up options. These individuals can make a decent side hustle providing regular menus and meals for a small group of customers. Things like Facebook groups make this easy to expand and reach a wider customer base.

But how do you know the condition of the kitchens in which this food is getting cooked? Cleanliness? Safety? Commercial kitchens have to be mindful about environmental cleanliness. There, your food is prepared in a safe and sanitary environment. You can expect safe handwashing practices. Safe food handling. Attention is paid to proper food storage and safe cooking temperatures to avoid illness. Professional restaurants even have to think about food safety during delivery. Such as keeping hot and cold items packaged separately and insulated properly to maintain proper temperatures. For your average neighborhood cooks, you have to take for granted that their homes are safe places to cook in. The Board of Health is not inspecting these home kitchens. If they did a surprise inspection on one of these home chef kitchens what would they find? In each of our homes we have different levels of cleanliness that we deem acceptable. What is acceptable to you might not work for me. Let’s explore some of those grey areas. Does the home have pets? Is the owner’s precious kitty walking on the same counter your chopped salad will be prepped on? Perhaps after she’s been digging in kitty litter? Is there smoking in the home? Even if not while the cooking is being done, are those chemicals in the air? What about common kitchen pests? Are their kids in the home? Are they helping to prepare the food? That’s a lovely thought unless we consider all the things little hands touch, and the lack of thoroughness in their hand washing.

We all love the idea of eating home cooked meals. We enjoy eating freshly prepared food that is lovingly prepared. We aren’t saying that all these kitchens are biohazards. But we do encourage you to find out for yourself. The provider of such foods should not be offended by questions regarding food prep and safety. When in doubt ask the provider in question what levels of food safety are being practiced keeping your food safe before you eat it. If you’ve ever been affected by food poisoning, you’ll understand the threat skimping in any of these areas can cause.

Alternately, if you put your faith on us, we will simply use your kitchen to cook your meals. Now, that is a surest way to ensure that your food is being prepared fresh in an environment you trust.

Reference: https://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/operations/food-safety-strategies-safer-delivery-takeout

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29 Oct 2019

A recent article released by NPR revealed a startling statistic. It published the results from a Survey by US Foods. That survey interviewed 500 food delivery drivers and 1500 food delivery customers. The results were disappointing to say the least. First revealing that 54% of those drivers found themselves tempted by the smell of a customer’s food. Additionally, nearly half of that 54% admitted to sampling the very food they were tasked with delivering. Not only is this a huge breach of trust, but it also raises issue of sanitization. The hands touching your food have been exchanging money with other patrons, getting in and out of their car, possibly even smoking. Those are the hands now rifling through the French fries you bought and paid for.

Even more unfortunately, this is a best-case scenario. We won’t even reference the many articles of vindictive drivers who tampered with food in retaliation of poor tips. You will not have to search hard to find plenty of stories of body parts and bodily fluids mixed together and even live streamed on Facebook before the food was delivered. Hardly appetizing you say? We agree.

Last year TheTakeout.com ran an article about a loophole in the Uber Eats Delivery Service policy. Basically, it stated that if the driver makes an attempt to contact the person who ordered the food but isn’t able to reach them, they can keep the food. According to a few posts from people claiming to be Uber drivers this was an easy way to score a free meal.

Uber is stuck between a rock and a hard place on this one. Obvious acts of fraud or theft will result in termination from the company. But in the technical age of dropped calls and dead cell phone batteries it’s not hard to imagine a real failure to connect. As much as we’d all like to believe the best about everyone, the evidence clearly points to the faults of this system.

Food safety issues will always be a problem if the food you are eating wasn’t prepared in your own kitchen. The more steps we place between where our food was cooked and when we eat it, the more chances there are for human failure, contamination or theft. For the safest dining experience, eat food that’s been prepared in your own kitchen by someone you trust. CookinGenie does exactly that. We send our Genies to cook in your own kitchen.

References:
https://www.npr.org/2019/07/30/746600105/1-in-4-food-delivery-drivers-admit-to-eating-your-food
https://thetakeout.com/ubereats-drivers-loophole-steal-eat-food-1830879242

https://www.ibtimes.com/food-delivery-driver-dipped-his-testicles-customers-salsa-2769495

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A Whirlwind Tour of US Barbecue - CookinGenie

03 Mar 2021

“Southern barbecue is the closest thing we have in the US to Europe’s wines or cheeses; drive a hundred miles and the barbecue changes. 

 John Shelton Reed, sociologist, writer, and all-around expert on all things Southern.  

 At its most basic, barbecue is meat that’s cooked low and slow over a smoky fire. But barbecue aficionados will tell you that “authentic” American barbecue is so much more—and, just like the wines and cheeses of Europe, the answer to just what real barbecue is will vary state-to-state, even region-to-region, with each area insisting that their version is the one true style. 

 The variations by region can be dizzying. Some swear barbecue needs a vinegar-based sauce, others swear by a tomato-based sauce. Some sauce their meat with mustard, some with mayonnaise. Up your barbecue IQ by taking a quick tour of American BBQ with us and learn about just some of each region’s specialties.  

North Carolina

You’ll find not one but two distinct styles of barbecue in North Carolina. In the Eastern method—which John Shelton Reed calls the “original” American barbecue—whole hogs are smoked and then chopped and served with a vinegar-and-pepper-based sauce. Further west another style of barbecue, known as Lexington-style, emerged. Here, just the pork shoulder is smoked and it’s served on a sandwich with a bright red tomato-based sauce.  Confused yet? Hang on, we’re just getting started… 

South Carolina 

South Carolina is just one state to the south, but their take on barbecue is worlds away. Like its neighbor to the north, pork is largely the meat of choice but South Carolinians put their own spin on the sauce. A very specific condiment developed in the area stretching from Charleston to ColombiaAccording to the South Carolina Barbecue Association, German settlers brought a love for mustard with them to South Carolina, and were soon pouring golden, mustard-based, vinegary sauce they christened Carolina Gold on their pulled pork.1  

Texas 

Deep in the heart of Texas, barbecue is all about the beef—brisket specifically—smoked low and slow over oak, mesquite, pecan, or hickory wood for up to 20 hours until it’s so tender it falls off the bone. How it’s served depends on where you are: in East Texas, brisket is marinated in a sweet tomato-based sauce, while in South Texas, the sauce is molasses-based. Near the Rio Grande, Mexican-style barbacoa dominates, while in Central Texas they do without sauce altogether and settle for a simple rub of salt and pepper.2  

Kansas City 

In Kansas City, all kinds of meat are smoked—beef, pork, chicken, or sausage—but what makes it unique is the thick sweet molasses- and tomato-based sauce that the smoked meat is smothered in. The most famous specialty of KC barbecue is burnt ends, the crunchy, caramelized, intensely smoky ends of brisket. Once considered a throwaway piece of meat, these tasty nuggets have become a favorite of barbecue enthusiasts.  

Memphis 

Hold the sauce in Memphis! Here, another style of barbecue developed: slabs of pork ribs are flavored with a dry rub of garlic, paprika, chili pepper, cumin, and other spices and cooked over a hickory fire. And in Memphis, they like to think outside the box: barbecued meat is added to nachos, pizza, and even spaghetti.3  

Alabama 

Last but not least is Alabama, famous for its unconventional white barbecue sauce. This combo of mayonnaise, vinegar, apple juice, and cayenne pepper has been served with smoked chicken since the 1920s and has gradually gained national attention. In fact, Texas Monthly declared 2015 “the year of Alabama barbecue.”4    

 Our virtual road trip through American barbecue just scratches the surfaceSt. Louis, Kentucky, Georgia, and more.. they’ve all developed their own local barbecue traditions and have their own share of passionate fanatics who swear their regions are the best 

 Our newest Genie, Ryan Pascoe, brings his passion for BBQ to your home. Choose one of Ryan’s falling-off-the-bone, slow-smoked specialties and he’ll arrive at your house in the morning to set up his smoker in your backyard, driveway, or garage and get your meat going, then come back later that day to finish it off. He offers everything from traditional finger-lickin’ favorites like Saint Louis Ribs smothered in a homemade barbecue sauce, to a tender, Coffee-rubbed Brisket, to a decadent Smoked Prime Rib with Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes. Let us know when you like the food done and we will work the right start time with you. Ryan brings the smoker with him. And takes it away – no cleanup for you. All you need to do is to find a dry spot for the smoker and a regular power outlet. Fresh meat from the nearby butcher shop, slow-cooked to perfectionIit’s not raining, even a chilly February day will not hamper an outdoor smoking event from CookinGenie 

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