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Meal kits usually deliver dinner to your door — but the food inside the box may be more work than you have time for.
If you’d rather “heat and eat” than learn how to cook, an entrepreneur has created a simpler option. Gobble, a meal preparation service that’s part of the growing category of food kits, promises to “make cooking easy for busy families,” founder and CEO Ooshma Garg told CNBC’s “On the Money” in a recent interview.
A Gobble box arrives from one of the company’s seven warehouses, and contains pre-cut, fresh ingredients that can be combined and cooked quickly.
“We have an army of sous chefs around the country that are preparing sauces, spice mixes, and chopping vegetables so that you can make dinner in 15 minutes and one pan,” Garg said.
With Gobble, like other meal kit providers, you go to a website and select what meals you want, and how frequently they’ll be delivered.
“We allow you to order as much of any meal as you want and we allow a minimum of two nights,” Garg explained.
“Most busy families are home and they need, they want, a home-cooked fresh meal for at least two nights a week,” she added. “We (also) have people who are ordering seven nights a week. And that flexibility is important for busy folks. “
Gobble joins a list of companies like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron that are looking to bridge the gap between convenience and healthy eating. As a category, U.S. meal kit sales are worth $5 billion, and grew by 40.7 percent last year, according to data from Earnest Research.
Garg said she got the idea for Gobble in 2010 when she was a student entrepreneur at Stanford University, studying biomechanical engineering. At the time, she neglected her own diet and health.
“I was working on my first internet startup company…working 24/7 and relying basically on takeout,” she said.
“My dad visited and actually brought a suitcase of his home-cooked northern Indian food and he stayed with me and basically healed me with his home-cooked food,” Garg said. “And I realized it wasn’t just food as nutrition but actually in my life, food is family.”
About half of Gobble’s customers are between 35 and 44 years old. She told CNBC the food shopping, prep and cooking time saved allows busy, often dual-career families to spend more time together.
Gobble costs $12 a plate, each kit contains two servings for $24—but Garg insisted they don’t scrimp on portion size.
“Our executive chef is a family man and these are large, generous portions,” she said, adding that a $24 box is capable of feeding “a family of 3 or 4.”
In the competitive meal kit market, Gobble announced a partnership with Walmart in August, becoming the latest meal kit company to expand its reach by getting real estate in brick-and-mortar stores.
“Partnering with the largest retailer in the world has leapfrogged Gobble and our innovative one-of-a-kind product to a next level,” Garg told CNBC. She believes the current boxed meal delivery model is only the beginning for an industry that will continue to evolve.
“This is the tip of the iceberg…We can automate your meals based on your tastes,” she said. “It will become the highest personalization for the consumer, with the best cost and the most reasonable price point.”
On the Money airs on CNBC Saturday at 5:30 am ET, or check listings for air times in local markets.