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Do you love delicious home-cooked meals but lack the time to shop, prep, cook, and clean up? If only you had your own sous chef, right? Well, it’s easier to get help than you may have thought.

Gourmet meals in a kit companies have been popping up like mushrooms and delivering pre-packaged ingredients right to their customers. Pre-measured, pre-chopped and accompanied with made-to-order sauces, the unpleasant part of cooking has already been done.

Blue Apron is a 2-year-old New York startup that delivers high-end, pre-measured ingredients to your doorstep. It’s much more than a typical grocery delivery service like Peapod of Fresh Direct. This innovative company lets time-starved chef-wannabes go online, select their favorite recipes or recipes they’d like to try and then get pre-measured farm-fresh ingredients delivered right to their home. It’s like a cook-prepping genie!

What makes this especially appealing to quality conscious consumers is Blue Apron’s effort to obtain locally grown ingredients and gourmet recipes that could even impress Gordon Ramsey. Typical upscale entrée choices are quinoa patties with pan-roasted mushrooms or togarashi-spiced tilapia with jade pearl rice. Blue Apron and they deliver to 85 percent of the continental U.S.

Similar gourmet ingredient and deliver services are Plated- (in N.Y) with a specialization in premium cuts of meat and chef-designed recipes.

Gathered Table (Seattle, Washington) prepares customized dinner menus each week with the option for customers to enter their own recipes.

Forage (San Francisco) provides recipes from celebrity chefs with an emphasis on quick to make recipes, that take no than 20 minutes. For people short on time, this option is a real pleaser.

Madison and Rayne(Chicago) delivers pre-chopped, pre-measured ingredients and prepared sauces to their customers.
This segment of the food industry is predicted to become a $3 to $5 billion industry within the next 10 years. Still, it will come down to convenience versus price. Meals at Madison and Rayne are about $19 per serving and Blue Apron runs about $9.99 per single service. Blue Apron owner, Salzberg, says the cost is 60 percent less than if you shopped for the ingredients yourself. But that’s only if you add in the cost of gas and buying an entire bag of ingredients instead of the one or two you might need for the recipe.

While that may be true in principle, some analysts disagree with that line of thinking and believe customers will too. “Technically speaking that’s probably correct, that to make a sauce you have to buy all these ingredients and you only use half of them,” says executive vice president of Technomic, Bob Goldin, “but at $10 a serving, I don’t think they’re going to win the ‘We’re cheaper’ argument.”

How about you? Is it worth between 10 to 20 dollars to outsource the parts of cooking you don’t like, the shopping and prepping – so you can concentrate on the fun part like assembling, cooking and eating?