Meal kit delivery services are blowing home cooking out of the water. Looking to compete, the number of prepared foods at Whole Foods and prepared foods at Costco has steadily ticked up. Supermarkets are losing customers as more and more avoid the long lines in favor of foods they don’t have to shop for or cook. Call the trend lazy, but after a long day at work, picking up the kids from soccer practice, and responding to those eternal emails, it seems that no one wants to spend time over a stove, hot or otherwise. While home cooking is your best bet for a healthy and affordable dinner, grocery stores and outlets that sell groceries are creating pre-made meals that are are focused on local produce, fresh proteins, and nutritious ingredients.
Meal kit companies like Blue Apron and Chef’s Menu have quickly developed a cooking replacement industry of easy, delivered-to-your-door ingredients that are perfectly portioned and ready to cook. These meal kits make cooking a breeze and with pre-portioned ingredients, yit’s easier to avoid food waste. Although the price is higher per serving than shopping for ingredients yourself, people are willing to shell out a little extra cash for the convenience factor. Supermarket chains like Whole Foods, as well as big box stores like Costco jumping on the meal kit bandwagon in an attempt to keep customers. (For more about meal kits and meal delivery srvices, look here for our recommendations.)
Kroger Co. is jumping right into the industry with their own meal kit, Prep + Pared, which you can find at four stores across the country (more are anticipated to start carrying the product soon). Dishes include Moroccan Inspired Spring Vegetables, Creamy Chicken + Bacon Alfredo, Japanese Inspired Beef Bowl, and Chimichurri Steak and clock in at around $14 (serves two). The meals take about 20 minutes to prepare with no chopping required.
Prepared Foods at Whole Foods
While Whole Foods doesn’t sell their own branded meal kits (yet), you can find Purple Carrot, a plant-based meal kit service, selling their pre-packaged dinners at Whole Foods stores around the country. Meal offerings include Mongolian Seitan Stir Fry, Pan-Seared Tofu and Black Rice Noodles, and Cashew Korma with Cauliflower Rice, to name a few.
Prepared Foods Sell. A lot.
Started in 2012, the meal kit market is seeing a huge spike in sales. Since its inception, the industry has generated about $1.5 billion in U.S. sales in 2016, according to Packaged Facts, and is expected to double to $3 billion in the next few years. Grocery store revenue, on the other hand, is in decline, so these markets are doing all they can to stay relevant. Only 49% of customers see a supermarket as the primary outlet for groceries and the average number of weekly trips to a grocery store is declining. These companies hope that meal kits will help bolster sales, and maybe even help families eat easily and healthily for affordable prices.