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PeopleImages / istock.com consumer focus Dinner Delivered By Jacob Uitti I open my front door and find a square cardboard box with the words PeachDish emblazoned on the side. With a sense of anticipation, I pick up the heavier- than-expected delivery and take it to my kitchen to see what tonight’s dinner is going to be. Atlanta-based PeachDish, which offers recipes with a southern flavor, is among the dozens of companies contributing to one of the hottest trends in dining today: meal-kit home deliveries. While the services vary greatly, many of the brands allow you to choose savory dishes from an online menu for generally about $10 to $12.50 per serving. Within a few days of ordering, the company delivers to your front door a box that contains everything you need to make the meal: pre-portioned ingredients and step-by-step instructions. Most of the ser- vices leave the box near your front door, just like any regular delivery. Others will notify you that the meal has been delivered. I’ve ordered the tomato pie with Vidalia onion and herbed chicken breast. Pretty fancy fare for a bachelor. Inside the box, I find well-packed and individually wrapped ingredients, including two chicken cutlets, vegetables, packets with spices and herbs, two peaches and a chocolate chip cookie. Looking at all the ingredients on the kitchen counter is a little intimidating. However, by following the instructions, I am pleasantly surprised. The meal takes about an hour to prepare. PeachDish’s chicken cutlets are tender and flavorful, and the ingredients fresh and appetizing. Quick quality It’s the combination of a quality meal, home delivery and ease of preparation that has made such meal services so popular. New York City–based Blue Apron, one of the largest and most visible of the services in the United States, launched in 2012 and has experienced amazing growth. It now delivers about 8 million meals per month to customers across the country. Dozens of other companies are also vying for a piece of this burgeoning market, with many trying to carve out their own niches, including Boston-based Purple Carrot, which offers home delivery of vegan meals to 36 states and the District of Columbia. Most services offer complete meal ingredients, with a main dish, side dish, salad and sometimes a dessert. Other services offer each part of the meal à la carte. With plenty of customers interested in buying fresh, healthy and creative meals that are easy to prepare, experts estimate that the meal-delivery service could be a $5 billion industry in the next 10 years. Helping to fuel the industry are people such as Seattle’s Liza Danger. In July 2015, Danger started ordering meals from Blue Apron because of its many positive online reviews. A co-owner of Seattle’s Octopus Bar, Danger says there are several benefits to the service—including convenience, the high-quality ingredients, the chance to sharpen her cooking skills and ensuring there is a good, hot and portioned meal available on late nights after closing up her business. “It’s great,” Danger says of the Blue Apron deliveries. “You never have to second-guess what’s in your kitchen or whether you have the right spices or if your vegetables are still fresh.” Some meal-kit customers such as Jewel Loree would rather have the meals already prepared and precooked, leaving only the need for a warm-up. A data analyst for Tableau, a Seattle-based software company, she travels regularly throughout North America for her work. When at home in the Seattle area, Loree has an active social life, including playing bass guitar in the indie rock band Golden Idols. She has little time for grocery shopping or cooking. In 2015, she started using Maven Meals, a Burien, Washington–based service that delivers nutritious, organic and locally sourced prepared meals to customers in the Greater Seattle and Bellevue area. Customers order by Sunday, and the à la september 2016 Alaska Beyond Magazine 143 ABM 09.16 Consumer Focus.indd 143 8/17/16 5:22 PM