Last year, we wrote about three fix-and-freeze companies that allow customers to assemble prepped food into healthy dinners. The concept has exploded in the past year. Entrepreneurs across the US have started their own dinner assembly stores, and the field’s leader, Dream Dinners, has expanded from 49 locations in April 2005 to 163 today, thanks to an active franchise program. (Dream Dinners’ franchise fee is USD 35,000 plus monthly royalties, and total start-up costs are between USD 175,000 and 250,000.) Though they vary in style, all of the dinner assembly companies offer essentially the same service: customers schedule a session online, picking meals from a monthly menu. The store, a large commercial-grade kitchen, organizes freshly chopped and prepared ingredients in practical stations. Customers move around the store, assembling a meal at each station by scooping ingredients into freezer bags or disposable baking pans. Meals are easily customized to accommodate personal tastes or diets – the customer just adds more or less fresh garlic or ginger, or substitutes pork for beef. Finally, the packaged meals are clearly labeled with cooking instructions. The whole process takes about 2 hours, preparing 12 six-serving, or 24 three-serving meals at a cost of around USD 3 per serving. And no time spent shopping for food, planning meals, prepping beforehand and cleaning up afterwards. Business is booming for a reason: the meal assembly concept offers time-starved consumers (especially working moms) an innovative and convenient way to provide their families with nutritious, tasty, home-cooked meals, with more variety, healthier options and at a lower cost than take-out or frozen supermarket meals. We haven’t spotted similar companies outside the US: time for entrepreneurs to bring fix-and-freeze to busy families across the world! A few examples to get you started: Let’s Dish, Sayrelyn’s, Super Suppers, My Girlfriend’s Kitchen, Dinner by Design, Supper Thyme, Supper Solutions, Let’s Eat Dinner, and Gourmade Cookery.