Meal Kits: The Future of Restaurant Delivery

Meal Kits: The Future of Restaurant Delivery

Posted by May. 04, 2017 | BY Emma Alois on May 19th 2017

Meal kits are the new billion-dollar food industry.

Diners want to enjoy their favorite restaurant dishes at home—but not by ordering takeout. Instead of sitting back and waiting for a food delivery to arrive, customers are ready to take an active role. Your loyal patrons want to cook their favorite dishes from your menu at home.

If you haven’t heard, meal kits are the new billion-dollar food industry in the United States. In 2016 alone, meal kit sales generated $1.5 billion, a number that’s expected to multiply by 2021.

Their success is a result of their simplicity. Customers receive a box that contains everything required to make one meal. Inside is a recipe with simple instructions anyone can follow, even the most novice of home chefs, and the exact portions of ingredients the recipe calls for. From start to finish, recipes are designed to take about 30 minutes. The result is a delicious plate of food—plus happy customers who are proud to have made a restaurant-caliber meal in their own kitchen.

Meal Kits from Restaurants

Meal kits are a new concept for restaurants. Although not many are offering them, the meal-kit revolution has been going strong for a few years now. Amid effective marketing campaigns from industry leaders like Plated, Blue Apron, and Goodfood, a new demographic of eaters has cropped up. Part gourmand, part health-conscious dieter, and part aspiring chef, each member of this group is interested in creating meals from restaurant-prepared meal kits. A large percentage of meal-kit shoppers are millennials living in urban centers.

How to Prepare a Meal Kit for Your Restaurant

Restaurants can have a piece of the meal-kit-industry pie. According to the National Restaurant Association, 49% of consumers say they would buy meal kits to prepare at home if their favorite restaurant offered them. If that’s not a clear indication to try something new, what is?

Creating a meal kit by your restaurant will take some planning and a new marketing campaign, but it’s simpler to get started than you might think. The keys to success is using fresh ingredients, delivering simple cooking instructions, and having a delivery system in place.

Develop Easy-to-Follow Recipes

Your guests want to eat their favorite dishes from your restaurant, but it’s likely that they don’t have:

1. The kitchen utensils needed to cook it (such as a deep-fryer)

2. The cooking skills to prepare it

Your culinary team needs to devise a new recipe with instructions a novice cook can follow. It’s important not to lose the flavor of your original dish, though. Help your customers by including a premade helping of the most complex part of the dish. For instance, you can prepare a more intricate sauce in-house, and then include a portion in the meal kit.

Include the exact portions of meat, vegetables, cheese, and other ingredients. It’s important that these items are fresh too; one key appeal of meal kits is the freshness of their ingredients. They are an alternative to frozen meals, which are high in sodium.

Start with your most popular dish or two. If there is strong interest, you can start to diversify the options, appealing to different cravings and dietary preferences.

Remember: Keep the cooking time within a 30-minute timeframe.

Plan Your Delivery Strategy

While guests may buy your meal kits when passing by your restaurant, the appeal of meal kits is that they are delivered to one’s door. Setting up a delivery system is integral to growing your meal-kit business. Decide on how many drivers you can afford to staff, and go from there. If you’re on a tight budget, schedule deliveries on a weekly basis.

You’ll need to source the right packing materials. Since you don’t know if a customer will be home, you will need to use refrigerated boxes to keep ingredients fresh.

With Americans spending more money than ever on restaurants, providing meal kits is a new way to stay competitive in a new dining/cooking market.

Another way to expand your restaurant's reach is by retailing your most popular recipes.