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Tasty home-cooked meals? Five firms that offer help and inspiration

This is part of a series exploring the cultural, technological and social trends that are informing the way we dine and select what we eat. Read the rest in the series here.

We've come a long way since TV dinners, but entrepreneurs are still coming up with creative – albeit much tastier and healthier – ways to simplify dinner time.

Short of having your own private chef, here are some clever businesses that want to make mealtime fresh, easy and more enjoyable for everyone.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

SupperWorks – a week’s worth of meals

Chris Wood and Joni Lien, two busy moms struggling with consistently getting hot, healthy meals on the table while raising kids, opened their “assembly kitchen” in 2005. Set up like a large professional kitchen, each SupperWorks facility – there are now more than a dozen across Ontario – offers recipes, tools and ingredients that allow customers to move from station to station and prepare about a week’s worth of meals during each one-hour session.

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Dashing Dishes – assembly kitchen will travel

Combining the convenience of an assembly kitchen with the nomadic exoticism of a food truck, Dashing Dishes, sets up in different community centres across Calgary and small communities in southern Alberta each month.

Lufa Farms

Lufa Farms – pick, pack and eat

Operating from a 31,000-square-foot greenhouse atop a retrofitted building in Montreal, Lufa grows enough crops, using captured rain water and recirculated irrigation, to feed 2,000 people a day. Customers order from an online marketplace and pick up their produce each week at the drop point most convenient to them.

Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press

Foodshare – eat local produce

A leading non-profit community development organization, Foodshare has been addressing hunger and food issues in Ontario since 1985. The organization’s Good Food Box program operates like a large buying club and relies on volunteer co-ordinators to create delivery boxes of produce, supplied mostly by local farmers, to customers each week.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Young Urban Farmers – grow your own

Taking dinner back to its source, Christopher Wong and Young Urban Farmers want to help urbanites grow more of their own food. His company, launched in 2007, is a kind of consulting service for wannabe farmers. Catering primarily to city dwellers in and around Toronto, Wong and his crew provide the know-how, supplies and ingredients to help people grow everything from a few window-box herbs to entire greenhouses full of produce.

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