Online Food Any Way You Want It

For “wanna-be” chefs looking to skip the prep work, CookExpress.com says check the Internet. For those who want even the cooking done for them, Food.com says check the newspaper. Today, the two online food services unveiled news ways for the Internet world to satisfy its appetite.

San Francisco-based CookExpress.com takes its local gourmet delivery service nearly national this week, rolling out service to the 48 continental states. CookExpress.com delivers “Mealkits” featuring all the ingredients needed to prepare a gourmet meal. The items come already cut up, measured, marinated and mixed, so all the lazy chef has to do is cook the meal according to the directions supplied by CookExpress.com. The kits are delivered via FedEx in temperature-controlled containers.

Time-Saver

CookExpress.com is trying to cater to fast-paced families that no longer have time to prepare their own meals.

In a national survey commissioned by CookExpress.com, 58 percent of respondents said the hassles of shopping for and preparing a meal, in contrast with the desire to sit back and relax, are the primary obstacles to preparing a sit-down dinner. Nearly 40 percent said planning and preparing a meal typically takes two or more hours. With the ingredients already prepared, the “Mealkits” cut the customer’s time investment down to 15 to 30 minutes, perhaps leaving more time for surfing the Internet to choose the next day’s meal.

CookExpress.com was founded by Darby Williams, a former Microsoft executive who says he learned his fair share during those days about having no time to cook. Now he is putting that experience to work for busy adults with thick wallets – entrees for two start at $22 plus shipping.

Patience-Saver

For those lacking even the 15 to 30 minutes needed to cook meals from CookExpress.com, food.com offers meals prepared, cooked and delivered based on an order through the Internet. In a new series of alliances unveiled Monday, Food.com hopes to gain exposure and clout through local newspapers in seven major cities. Food.com struck deals with the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Orlando Sentinel, the Tampa Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Miami Herald to integrate Food.com’s online order form into each newspaper’s website.

The Food.com order form has been added to the newspaper sites on pages that discuss dining and restaurants, such as the “Food” section of the Washington Post. In addition to ordering dinner online, visitors to the sites can search for restaurants, read reviews and get directions to the restaurant in case they decide to eat out instead. Food.com’s sales department agents, and newspapers, are working together to market the service to area restaurants. Food.com will also include links to the newspapers on its site.

Food.com, founded in December 1996 in San Francisco, lists more than 12,000 restaurants across the country. The company plans to expand its service to include restaurant reservations, reviews, sending meals as gifts, specialty food offerings and news related to food and dining.

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