Dinner kits by mail offer gourmet meals at home — for a price

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Recipe packs, dinner kits, and frozen dinners…What price are you willing to pay for the convenience of a gourmet meal at home?

There’s a new wave of startups geared to people who admire tasty food, but aren’t natural cooks themselves. These startups typically have exotic weekly menus and they send you all the ingredients, pre-packaged in exact portions, right to your doorstep.

These sites also have videos to watch that walk you step-by-step through assembling all the ingredients. The idea is that you can create an elegant meal in about 30 minutes.

Now, these sites are not exactly cheap, but they could well be cheaper than going out to eat if you have gourmet tastes. (As for me, I eat off the dollar menu at fast food restaurants!) Here are some of the startups:

  • HelloFresh.com — Requires you to order a minimum 3 meals for 2 people per week; only available on the East Coast.
  • BlueApron.com — Works out to be about $10 per serving; offers a wide range of recipes for different palates.
  • Plated.com — Minimum order is 4 plates — 2 portions of 2 meals or 4 portions of 1 meal — at $15 a plate.
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