Could outsourcing dinner save you money?
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Nov 21, 2012  |  Vote 0    0

Could outsourcing dinner save you money?

Ottawa East News
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My husband is probably the first man in the history of paternity leave to take his role seriously.

Okay, maybe not. But he’s doing an awesome job. While I hide out in my office all day (you know, breadwinning), he’s rocking baby and feeding baby and taking baby for walks. Then he’s supervising homework and cooking dinner and making lunches and cooking dinner. Oh, and did I mention cooking dinner?

It may come as no surprise that – like so many women before him – he has become completely overwhelmed with his domestic duties. One day, as I approached him -- up to his eyeballs in clean laundry, baby gurgling on the living-room floor -- he said, “I think we need to outsource something.”


“What do you have in mind?” I asked him, knowing he’s got an arm’s-length list of home renovations projects he’d like to be doing in lieu of baby care.

“The food, the meals,” he said. “I feel like I’m always in the kitchen.”

It’s true. I know it. I’ve been meal-planning and lunch-making for my family for seven years. It’s a huge pain in the you-know-what – everything from coming up with original ideas, to chopping, to timing and shopping.

As my pal, Kay, quipped the other day, “not another eff-ing dinner.”

Yeah. I get it.

We live in an age where we can outsource everything, from personal shopping to housecleaning. For a family on a budget, it may be hard to think about adding an expense. But in a way, outsourcing dinner makes total sense and it may save you more than just time – it could save you money, too.

Canadians waste approximately $27 billion of food each year, according to a report released in October from the Value Chain Management Centre, an Ontario-based organization that conducts research on waste. In 2010, uneaten leftovers at home accounted for more than half of that amount – 51 per cent. Surprisingly, only eight per cent of food waste was attributed to restaurants.

One possible explanation is that restaurants have systems for ordering and preparing food. In other words, they cook what they buy and people tend to eat what is cooked.

Food at home is another story. Most people go into the grocery store with good intentions: They load their carts up with fresh produce, then bask in the glory of fridges full of greens. But a busy week at work, a sick child, one too many extracurricular activity and the good intentions to cook from scratch go out the window. Suddenly, Friday pizza night is starting to occur three nights a week and all that fresh food ends up in the green bin.

Eleven years ago, Julie Broczkowski, a chemical engineer by profession, launched her business, The Magic Fridge. Like most personal chefs, the crux of her business model is to cater to households. What makes her stand out, however, is that she doesn’t just make a bunch of stuff and bring it to you. For $200, plus the cost of groceries, Broczkowski will help you plan a menu, do your grocery shopping and cook approximately eight meals in your own kitchen.

“When I first started out I thought seniors would be my target market,” says Broczkowski. “But the vast majority of my clients are families where both parents work, the kids have activities, and they’ve become sick of landing at McDonald’s three nights a week.”

Broczkowski says people may be intimidated by the cost at first glance, but they quickly realize that having the grocery list tailored to the meals, which are prepared and frozen the day the groceries are purchased can actually save them money in the long run.

“A lot of my clients have been paying for their food twice,” says Broczkowski. “They go grocery shopping, put everything in the fridge, then wind up eating out. So I say, instead of paying for takeout, pay me. For $200, they can have two weeks’ worth of Monday-to-Thursday meals and no waste.”

And to my friend, Kay, who posted this on Facebook at midnight last month: “If you need me, I’m probably lost in the back of the Tupperware cupboard #makingkidslunches,” it turns out, you can outsource that, too.

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