The sale of frozen foods has tip-toed along at about 1% gain a year so a number of large food producers are making bets they can see larger growth. ConAgra is making R&D investments in the Marie Calendar and Banquet brands in an attempt jump start things. Efforts to reduce preservatives, salt and sugar are all smart moves but frozen food will never have the allure of dishes that require some assembly. Frozen food is a convenience play and one that is counter to the new craft economy.
Busy moms and dads who have to do some food manipulation, e.g., cutting peeling, shredding, stirring, however slight, feel better about meal preparation. Today’s two income families we are all busy. And dinner prep takes time. But when parents ask why aren’t the kids at the table, they should know the answer: the food is average. Some assembly required meals makes a convenience dinner a better dinner. More smells in the kitchen. More commitment to ingredients. More participation.
Eight minutes of prep time and about 10-20 minutes of cooking sounds about right. Let’s turn the R&D people loose on this type of meal. Healthier eating, healthier preparation and perhaps a few pennies saved.