Frances Brattos doesn't shop for milk, and she doesn't shop for meat.
She's not exactly lazy, since she's a wife, mother of six grown children and grandma to 10 grand-children who stop in frequently and are always welcome at mealtime. Additionally, one grandchild, a toddler, lives with her and her husband full time.Brattos has found that home-delivered groceries are a time- and energy- saver worth every penny.
She's been getting Winder Dairy products delivered to her West Valley home since 1981 and frozen foods from Schwan's Sales Enterprises since 1982.
"It's easier to just go out and get your stuff from the (insulated porch cooler) box than go to the store. When you're busy, you just don't have time to run to the store and drag your little granddaughter out of the car to shop for milk and eggs and orange juice," Brattos said.
Besides the food tastes better, she insists.
Home-delivered food costs more than grocery store merchandise, as much as 20 percent to 30 percent for a gallon of milk or even higher for certain frozen meals. But vendors say the arrangement is economical in the long run because people tend to spend more than they'd planned when they walk into a grocery store.
Traditionally thrifty Utahns are becoming increasingly willing to fork over more money for the convenience of home delivery.
"We're just finding that as people's lives get busier, as more streets get torn up, it makes home delivery a great convenience," said Kent Winder, vice president of the 118-year-old West Valley firm now in its sixth generation of ownership.
Winder said that a Du Pont survey shows the average customer pays 66 percent of his shopping dollars on impulse items. And the Reader's Digest book "Eating Right" said each trip to the store takes 24 minutes and people on average will spend $32 on that trip. Other studies have shown that the more time you spend in a grocery store, the more money you'll spend.
Winder Dairy currently serves about 22,500 Utah households, up from 20,000 only two years ago. Five years ago, the dairy served only 16,000 households.
The dairy has ordered six more trucks to supplement its 42-truck fleet, expanded its routes and undertook more Saturday deliveries to keep up with customer demand.
Its territory once stretched east-west from Park City to Tooele and north-south from Brigham City to Payson. But Winder has moved into St. George and now stops at 475 homes there.
Despite fears about crime, the company has had only three of its insulated porch coolers stolen.
Winder Dairy offers a long list of foods, including the popular dairy products as well as such staples as a variety of breads, peanut butter, honey and margarine. Special promotions run before holidays with savings on items such as whipped cream, fruitcakes and eggnog. Summer means a full range of picnic items. One of the most popular offerings besides dairy products is Winder Dairy's ground beef.
Winder also offers non-food items such as water softener salt, garden compost and laundry detergent.
Meanwhile, Schwan's, which is a Winder competitor, grew out of a Minnesota dairy operation. It has now turned into a frozen food delivery firm operating in 48 states and five Canadian provinces.
Since it is a privately held company, Schwan's does not release sales or customer numbers or other information.
"I can tell you that our customer base in Utah continues to grow rapidly," said Bob Otterson, director of communications. "Schwan's continues to have good growth in Salt Lake City and its larger metropolitan area and steady growth in other parts of the state."
Schwan's glossy 60-page full-color catalog advertises everything from frozen entrees to side dishes to desserts. It also offers cooking tips and recipes.
Otterson said Schwan's ice cream and steaks are among the most popular items, as well as its lasagne, pizzas, egg rolls, burritos, corn dogs and an assortment of chicken meals. Many customers like to buy a full assortment of party fixings from appetizers to entrees to desserts, which avoids any trips to the grocery store.
Customers can fill out order forms or ask a delivery person to get certain items off the trucks, which carry 225 products. Evening deliveries are available.
Again, the cost is higher than the supermarket. For example, Schwan's frozen mashed potatoes cost $2.79 for a 21/2-pound container.
But Otterson said convenience and taste are the big drawing cards. Not only is the food delivered to your door, but the preparation is easy. "Schwan's is not a company that can put more hours in the day for you, but we can make some of your hours at home less stressful," he said.
Futurists predict that home delivery services will continue to grow.
One person who thinks so is Faith Popcorn, head of Brain-Reserve, a marketing consulting firm to Fortune 500 Companies and author of two books predicting social trends.
Popcorn (whose name was Plotkin before she changed it) is the person who years ago coined the phrase "cocooning," predicting the trend that Americans increasingly would retreat to their homes for recreation and respite from what they perceive as a hostile outside world.
Popcorn has observed in her updated book "Clicking" that there's a new phenomenon afoot that she terms "AtmosFear." Among other things, society is worrying about the water it drinks, the food it eats and such food-borne dangers as E. coli bacteria.
Brattos of West Valley City is no exception.
"I buy Winder Dairy's ground beef," she said. "Whenever I hear about E. coli, I go, `Oh, no!' but my husband will say to me, `Frances, don't worry. We get our meat from Winder Dairy, and they won't have E. coli in it.' "