Monday, November 30, 2009

Meal Preparation Franchises

Before Julia, S and I used meal preparation franchises quite a bit. In these places, you can assemble your own meals & take them home and put them in the freezer. They are kind of a compromise between going out to eat and making the same ol' spaghetti dish each night. Around here they went by the names of Dinners Ready, Designed Dinners, Dinners Done Right & Dream Dinners. Yeah, they all had "dinner" in their names & they completely saturated the market. When the market was booming, that wasn't a bad thing. We had plenty of options, and S & I made a date of it once every few months to make a ton of meals to freeze. You see, S and I are very boring people, so assembling food on a Saturday afternoon while wearing aprons was our kind of fun.

As you can probably predict, the recession has hit these businesses hard. They were almost all franchises, meaning sole proprietors had invested their life savings in getting one of these businesses going in a specific territory. When the recession hit, no one was spending that kind of money on food anymore. Not that it was ridiculously expensive, but it was about $12-14 for a 2-person meal. Not as expensive as dinner at a restaurant but definitely more expensive than you would pay if you were to buy the groceries yourself.

When Julia came into our life, which coincided with the recession, we pretty much stopped going to these places. Well, we went twice in late 2008. Once in August when Julia was 2 months old, my mom watched her while we assembled meals. And once in October we took her with us while one of us made meals and the other held her. After October of 2008, we never went back. I dunno why, not necessarily because of the money - but maybe it was more that all of the ones around us closed.

We were on all of their mailing lists because we went to each different franchise a few times. When each location has gone out of business, our e-mail has been absorbed by the next closest competitor. In the last 2 days I have gotten e-mails from the closest office of two of the franchises. One's closest location is now 35 miles away (Dinners Ready) & one's closest location is 40 miles away (Designed Dinners). These far away franchises are willing to deliver down here since they're likely close to going out of business too.

It's all very sad. Yes, the market was likely way too saturated with these types of businesses. But it's so sad to see sole proprietors go out of business like that.


Melissa said...

There was one of those about an hour from here. It didn't last long at all!

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I’m thinking of starting up a group with some friends from church, and my hsband has dairy allergy. Can you suggest some good recipes that have worked for your group?