New Somerset business makes meal delivery service personal

It’s dinnertime again.

And instead of having a meal planned, with ingredients laid out and ready to cook for our not-so-patient families, many of us find ourselves peering in the fridge, wondering what we are going to make and how we are going to find the time to do it.

In today’s world of long commutes, busy schedules and extra hours at work, this is a familiar conundrum, and it’s is why meal delivery services such as Blue Apron, Plated and Home Chef have grown in popularity. They allow subscribers to select a variety of meals in advance, and then have the ingredients, accompanied with cooking instructions, shipped right to the customers’ doors.

Now, such services aren’t the perfect recipe for everyone. They usually require customers to subscribe for weeks at a time, and convenience comes at a fairly high price right at the start. Not everyone likes the idea of meals sitting on their doorsteps all day long, and of course, while you have the ingredients, you still have to assemble and cook everything. And in today’s transparency-valued world, people like to know where the ingredients are coming from, too.

Sesame chicken from Simply Delicious Dinners. (~Courtesy of Simply Delicious Dinners)

Sesame chicken from Simply Delicious Dinners. (~Courtesy of Simply Delicious Dinners)

That’s where Simply Delicious Dinners comes in.

The meal delivery service business, based in Somerset and owned by Mike Enea and his wife, Kristen, of Hillsborough, currently serves 11 counties, including Somerset, Morris, Union, Hunterdon and Middlesex counties.

Mike Enea launched the ever-growing Simply Delicious Dinners in June of 2015, after coming to the realization that he wasn’t happy with his corporate life of working for a market research firm — he was looking for a change and decided to start his own business.

After doing some research, naturally, the Eneas, who have always loved to cook and try new recipes, settled on a meal delivery service business.

Similar to other meal delivery service options, Simply Delicious Dinners allows customers to review a changing monthly menu online and select their dinners from up to 15 items, such as steak, chicken, pasta, seafood and more. Customers can choose three-serving or six-serving dinners, in any combination that works best for them and their families with a minimum order of 30 servings (18 for first-time customers).

Mike and Kristen Enea. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Mike Enea)

Mike and Kristen Enea. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Mike Enea)

However, Simply Delicious Dinners doesn’t deliver your meal at a randomized time — instead, the customer decides on the desired date and time of delivery, so the meal isn’t sitting outside on the porch all day.

“When we looked into this, I read the reviews and I asked the people trying them,” Mike Enea said. “Most similar services just deliver ingredients in a refrigerated box that could sit on your doorstep all day. This is not something we would ever do. We wanted to be more personal.”

Enea also found through his research that some customers said they were doing too much work with other meal services — they received a box of ingredients and still had a meal to put together. So, his business resolved to do more of the work for their customers. This includes keep the cooking instructions for Simply Delicious Dinners meals as simple as simple, and making sure that most meals are ready in less than 20 minutes.

“We do all the meal preparation work such as shopping, slicing, dicing, chopping and measuring for our customers so that when our customers receive our meals, there is minimal work beyond following our simple cooking instructions,” he said.

Mozzarella stuffed meatballs from Simply Delicious Dinners. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Simply Delicious Dinners)

Mozzarella stuffed meatballs from Simply Delicious Dinners. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Simply Delicious Dinners)

Plus, unlike other meal delivery service options, Simply Delicious Dinners doesn’t require that customers be on a yearly or monthly contract, which Enea said he found was a major qualm customers had with meal delivery services.

It seems to be working out — Enea said that about half of the company’s customers have been reordering continuously and it has about 100 to 120 very solid customers.

To develop its monthly changing menu, Simply Delicious Dinners employs a chef and the Eneas have family recipes that they use; they also incorporate suggestions from their customers into their meals. Among some of the current menu’s highlights: Italian pulled pork with sweet potato fries, Thai basil chicken with carrots, pesto risotto with salmon, and  tortellini with pesto and sun-dried tomatoes. Much of the produce is locally sourced from Dukes Farm Market, Norz Hill Farm, and Hillsboro Farm.

“Our customers really seem to like the diversity of our monthly menus,” Enea said, adding that most meals include a side. “We try our best to provide new and exciting options each month for our customers.”

Hickory pulled pork from Simply Delicious Dinners. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Simply Delicious Dinners)

Hickory pulled pork from Simply Delicious Dinners. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Simply Delicious Dinners)

The price breakdown for a three-serving meal ranges from $14 to $22 depending on the dish. Plus, Enea said that he has found that Simply Delicious Dinners’ portions are much larger than their competitors’.

To help get that word out, Simply Delicious Dinners launched a new website in December that is much more user-friendly, and the service also has also added a catering menu for all of its customers’ special-event needs.

“Many people, such as hardworking singles, couples and families that don’t want to deal with the stress or anxiety of meal preparation are interested in meal subscription services,” Enea said. “They don’t want to shop for themselves but they also don’t want to resort to unhealthy fast foods. Simply Delicious Dinners is a great option for them.”

SIMPLY DELICIOUS DINNERS

Contact: simplydeliciousdinners.com, 908-300-2087

Cost: Ranges from $12 to $22 per three-serving meal

Service region: Somerset, Mercer, Morris, Union, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Warren, Essex and Hudson counties, and some parts of Sussex County

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