Sharon Albrecht entered a crowded field of meal-assembly businesses when she launched Dinner Savvy eight years ago.
“When we opened, there were 15 or 16 of this type of business,” she said. “Most of them were franchises, and too many opened too fast without a good business plan.”
Dinner Savvy is independently owned in Apex. “We have always been one little location, just us doing our own thing.”
Albrecht not only competed with the others; she outlasted them. She attributes her success to good recipes and quality ingredients as well as the decision to have a full kitchen on site.
“We said from the get-go we we were going to have a full kitchen and the ability to cater,” Albrecht said. “We use all fresh meats and hand-trim our meats daily.”
Each month, Dinner Savvy publishes a menu with at least 13 entree choices. Each entree is designed to feed three to six people, and most can be split into two half-size portions. Customers decide how many meals they want and schedule a day and time to either assemble the meals themselves or pick up pre-assembled meals.
“Once the appointment is made, the customer just shows up,” Albrecht said.
The cost of the three-meal minimum averages to $4.66 per serving, she said. “That’s less than a fast-food meal.”
All meals are ready to freeze, and special dietary needs can be accommodated.
Customer favorites include baked manicotti and creamy chicken enchiladas. All of the recipes are customizable, allowing customers to leave out an ingredient they don’t like or to add extra of a favorite spice.
This time of year, Albrecht said, plenty of grillable meals are offered. A simple side comes with a few of the meals. Other sides are available for purchase separately.
“Lots of people try things they might not have cooked at home without investing in ingredients they might not ever use again,” she said.
Albrecht says Dinner Savvy is ideal for families heading to the coast for vacation.
“If you’re renting a house or condo for a week at the beach, who wants to cook? You can make six meals for six people for $156, and all you have to do is pack it right in a cooler,” she said. “When you’re on vacation, you want to be sitting on the beach enjoying yourself.”
She said customers who have tried this have come back saying, “It’s the greatest thing we ever did.”
Children are welcome to help parents put together the meals. Adults with parents living out of the area will sometimes assemble meals to take to them.
Dinner Savvy welcomes private parties. Baby showers for a second- or third-time mom are popular.
When someone questions the cost of the meals, Albrecht points out the time it takes to plan, shop for and cook a meal at home.
“Then there is the waste factor,” she said. “You have to buy a whole bottle of spice when you might only need one teaspoon and never use it again.”
She added: “Your time is worth something.”
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