Families aren't eating out so why not take fine restaurant dining to them -- in a retail form? TheSan Francisco Chroniclesays artisan meats specialist and renowned chefPaul Bertolli(Chez Panisse) has created four ready-to-heat meals for areaCostcowarehouse stores.

Varieties include Organic Polenta, Penne Bolognese, Beef Braised in Zinfandel with Vegetables, and Turkey Meat Loaf. They are prepared (never frozen) and sold refrigerated with no preservatives or hormone additives. The meals serve five and retail for less than $14.

Bertolli told theChroniclehe uses premium ingredients including Piedmontese beef, polenta from San Francisco's Al Giusto flour company and free-range turkeys processed at a family farm in Sonora, Calif. Bertolli also found a processing partner -- San Jose's Delmonico Specialty Foods -- that follows his recipes and prepares dishes under his supervision.

Asked why he would consider such a line, Bertolli points to the souring economy and restaurant businesses down 30 to 40 percent. "And those with family aren't going out because they also can't afford child care," he said. "But they still want restaurant-quality meals that they can afford that are also convenient."