Americans have a fascination with food. They love reading about it, watching innumerable TV shows about it—and, of course, eating it. But they aren’t always able to plan and prepare the homemade meals of their dreams.

Two Twin Cities entrepreneurs recently set up businesses to help such people, delivering everything needed to create healthy, locally grown, restaurant-quality meals directly to their customers’ homes.

One is Solo by Bonicelli, founded by Laura Bonicelli, a former producer for commercial food photographers. A self-taught cook, Bonicelli grew up in the Iron Range town of Chisholm. “I had an Italian grandmother and a French mother, and any chance I could, I’d visit other people’s kitchens,” she says. For years, Bonicelli prepared food for friends and family. She got the idea to start her own food-delivery service after providing meals to a friend who was “going through this horrible period in her life,” Bonicelli says.

“I packaged up everything she’d need for three days—breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” she recalls. “Her reaction was so strong and so positive, and the work felt so satisfying, that it got me thinking. I started researching fresh meal services in the Twin Cities, and I decided that there was room in the market for the kind of meals that I could deliver.”

This spring, Bonicelli launched Solo by Bonicelli, a fresh-meal delivery service that offers several meal packages, including a 31-day, three-meals-a-day service that costs around $40 a day per person. She also offers smaller packages, like three days of meals for $150 per person. Typical entrées include a fresh scone or oatmeal with nuts and berries for breakfast; a salad, soup, or sandwich with protein for lunch; and for dinner, fish or chicken with vegetables.

“I don’t cook just Italian food,” Bonicelli explains. “I take an Italian approach to cooking, which means I really love preparing food and savoring the process of cooking.”

Bonicelli doesn’t cook to order for her clients. She sets the menus weekly, depending on availability of fresh ingredients and whatever culinary whim overtakes her. Her customers range from new parents overwhelmed by baby care to people who are seriously ill to those who simply prefer not to cook for themselves.

“I have a couple of clients who have extremely busy lives and move around a lot,” Bonicelli says. “I cook for the whole month for them. They don’t have to go to the grocery store except to buy milk.”

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