Make It Easy

It seems that consumers are all on their way to somewhere else when they’re right in the middle of something. Grocery is an industry particularly subject to this rushed pace: Our customers want quality, taste, smell, appeal and nutrition in a snap. As retailers, we should consider this cohort of customers a focus and adapt meal solutions for those making it work on a tight schedule.

When developing meal ideas, you should first consider price point and lifestyle. Although “time is money,” and therefore convenience may mean an inflated register receipt, using various brands, vendors and even ingredients can really change up the price tag. Consider your lower or value tier in creating meal ideas for on-the-go customers who are a little more sensitive to price. That said, generating meal solutions with natural or organic ingredients may resonate well with health-conscious customers less prone to “sticker shock.” Further, more indulgent, culinary-focused consumers could opt for true masterpieces that are made with innovative cooking styles and leave room for more creativity at home after purchase.

The Dietitian’s Role

Registered dietitians are a wonderful resource in recipe design relative to healthful meal solutions. The dietitian can pair up with a chef, or work alone to formulate diverse dishes that can extend the use of a meal’s ingredients. For instance, a large tub from the deli of ready-to-eat baked beans can be eaten solo, made into an easy pumpkin chili, puréed for a chip or veggie dip, or thrown on a tostada, while a generous helping of cooked pasta from the deli case is perfect for primavera, Alfredo or a noodle casserole. Multiple easy recipes using minimal yet flavorful ingredients can be advertised on packaging, nearby signage, take-home cards or even your company website.

The dietitian also has a terrific grasp on allergens and free-from foods to facilitate decision-making at mealtime. Whether by medical necessity or dietary preference, customers may need to have certain meal components emphasized or eliminated. The “Big 8” (wheat, soy, egg, milk, fish, shellfish, tree nuts and peanuts) encompass 90 percent of all food allergies, so offering some alternatives (brands or dishes with rice flour instead of wheat flour, or seeds instead of nuts, etc.) can garner more attention from this community. Additionally, those avoiding gluten, lactose or animal ingredients could benefit from some creative dishes that address such restrictions.

Finally, fast meals are available for the center or perimeter aisles in the forms of meal kits and par-baked/pre-cooked items. Whether DIY coleslaw in the produce area, with bagged cabbage and slaw pouches; par-baked baguettes in the bakery, which can be warmed to accompany salad; or heat-and-serve full meals, they certainly make life simpler. Other ready-to-eat answers, including reduced-sodium and low-fat selections, reside in the frozen section: Entrées, sides and vegetables can be promoted alongside grab-and-go or easy-to-make dressing mixes.

Customers continue to demand more from their retailers in terms of shopping experience. Their fast-paced lives and long to-do lists sometimes equate to less opportunity for meal preparation and consumption. Create displays that acknowledges this time crunch but make an exciting meal presentation, all while accounting for price, lifestyles, recipes, nutrition, ingredients, food intolerances, preferences and the assembly needs of your busy customers.

Registered dietitians are a wonderful resource in recipe design relative to healthful meal solutions.

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