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Galley latest entree on the food-delivery menu

From Left,  Eli Kamerow, Marketing Manager; Kelly Desmond, Operations Manager; and Andrew Nevin, Brand Ambassador at Galley foods, walking down the center of light street in Federal Hill holding food delivery bags that their drivers use to deliver orders. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

From Left, Eli Kamerow, Marketing Manager; Kelly Desmond, Operations Manager; and Andrew Nevin, Brand Ambassador at Galley foods, walking down the center of light street in Federal Hill holding food delivery bags that their drivers use to deliver orders. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

While working at Living Social in its early days, Alan Clifford and Ian Costello found they were working late hours and resorting to unhealthy takeout for dinner. They were also missing out on eating with their families.

So the two started putting ideas together and in January 2015 Galley was born. Now in the Washington and Baltimore markets, Galley delivers healthy, cooked meals in biodegradable, microwave safe containers within 30 minutes of receiving an order.

It’s the latest entry in what is becoming the increasingly competitive business of food and meal home deliveries.

Galley has its own delivery staff, including around 60 drivers between Washington and Baltimore, plus around 25 people in its kitchen in Washington.

With satellite offices at Betamore, a startup incubator in Baltimore’s Federal Hill neighborhood, the company brought its services to downtown Baltimore in September and has expanded its reach throughout the city. It recently started delivering in Towson with plans to expand into Baltimore County in the coming months.

As the business grew, Galley found that its best customers are families. Each day there are four menu options from which customers can choose.

Sample packages of some different Galley pre-packaged meals. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Sample packages of some different Galley pre-packaged meals. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

“If you have children in school, that’s really our strongest customer,” said Eli Kamerow, marketing manager and one of Galley’s first employees.

Galley recently introduced family-sized meals, which are cheaper than ordering four individual meals, to cater to its customer base. It also offers kids’ lunchbox meals. Dinner options typically hover around $15 for adult meals and $6 for the kids’ meals.

Users can order food from Galley up to five days in advance or as late as 8:30 p.m. the night they want their meal. Unlike some of its competitors, Galley does not have a subscription-based model.

Galley is just one of the food delivery services that cater to people who want healthy options but don’t want to cook or to take the time to buy raw ingredients for their meals.

Terra’s Kitchen, a Baltimore startup that launched earlier this year and delivers across the country, caters to people who want to plan their meals a week in advance and use the service for three to four dinners a week. The company’s meals are designed to cut back on time needed to cook healthy meals, including time to prepare vegetables. The meals cost between $12 and $19 on average.

Data shows that meal kits are more popular among more affluent households that have an annual income of at least $75,000. Around 1 percent of adults in the U.S. have used a meal-kit delivery service and are between the ages for 18 and 44, CNBC reported.

Across the country, food and grocery delivery startups have become a hotbed for venture capital funding. More than $1 billion was invested in the sector in 2014, and a half-billion dollars was invested in the first quarter of 2015 alone, TechCrunch reported last year.

Experts watching the industry say there is a lot of potential to bring food and grocery delivery services online.

Already, companies run the gamut when it comes to delivering food in any form. Peapod, for example, has been delivering groceries from supermarket companies Stop & Shop and Giant Food since 1989.

In the past few years, one of the most popular names in the grocery delivery sector is Blue Apron, which recently recruited Under Armour alum Brad Dickerson to be its CFO. Founded in 2012, Blue Apron now reportedly ships eight million meals a month. The subscription service requires people to order three meals a week, and it sends packages that come with raw ingredients and a recipe card. A two-person plan costs about $60 a week, or $10 per meal. Subscribers can cancel anytime, according to Blue Apron’s website.

In this market, Galley considers convenience to be its edge. The company’s meals are already cooked and some can be served chilled. Galley also does not require subscriptions and offers same-day delivery.

“A lot of people gravitate toward us because it’s less of a commitment,” said Kamerow.