Valentine’s Day Is Coming – and So Are Prepared Meals, Menus

As consumers continue the trend of cooking at home, grocers offer ideas and specials
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Heart sushi
Heart-shaped sushi is one Valentine's Day idea for shoppers who want to celebrate the holiday at home.

As grocers gear up for Valentine’s Day, many are continuing their holiday tactics of offering seasonal meals and foods that align with shoppers’ tastes and budgets.

Despite the less COVID-centric environment this year, consumers remain somewhat cautious as the Feb. 14 holiday approaches. Although inflation has shown some signs of easing, food prices remain elevated and many shoppers are still looking for deals or not overly splurging on holiday celebrations. 

The good news is that food retailers can tap into sustained interest in cooking and eating at home. A new survey from Morning Consult showed that consumers are reducing their spending at restaurants by 8%.  Another recent report from Attest found that 52% of consumers in the United States are making more food at home as they strive to manage their budgets.

The Fresh Market is one retailer that is touting the value of its Valentine’s Day solutions. The retailer is promoting prepared, ready-to-cook meals, including a Valentine’s Day meal for two for $59.99 with a choice of two proteins (chateaubriand-cut filet mignon, lump crab cakes and/or lobster tail) and a prime rib meal for two for $49.99. Fresh Market is also offering a specially-priced brunch for four for $25, consisting of quiche Lorraine, bacon, fruit and blueberry muffins ready to bring home in a store-brand reusable shopping bag.

Wegmans Food Markets is also sharing suggestions for a Valentine’s Day, spotlighting ideas with a variety of price points. For those going all out, Wegmans put together a surf and turf menu with ribeye steaks and lobster tails paired with rosé wine, and shared suggestions for Valentine’s Day sides, including microwaveable asparagus tips for $2.79 and store brand prepared Tuscan potatoes for $8 per 12-oz. container.

The Kroger Co., for its part, is promoting ingredients and supplies for Valentine’s Day, including the perennial staples of candy, flowers and greeting cards as well as foods for a romantic dinner for two. Among this year’s spotlighted recipes: seared strip steaks and shrimp with chimichurri, sun-dried tomato and gnocchi and pesto salmon pasta.

Heeding the fact that culinary skills vary, Whole Foods Market has created Valentine’s Day menus for different cooking levels. Novice cooks can get tips for making easy shrimp linguine with chocolate dipped strawberries while those who fit the bill as a “chef in progress” can download recipes for a cheese board, Chilean sea bass with caramelized lemon sauce, topped with a chocolate heart cake available in the bakery department. Advance cooks can pick up some caviar to make parsley toasts before serving herb-roasted lobster and steak and finishing with a chocolate mousse vegan tart.

Based in Greensboro, N.C., The Fresh Market, operating 159 stores in 22 states, is No. 78 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Family-owned Wegmans operates more than 100 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and Massachusetts, and is No. 34 on The PG 100. Serving 60 million households annually nationwide through a digital shopping experience, and almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 on The PG 100.  The first certified-organic national grocer, Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods has more than 500 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Seattle-based Amazon, which is No. 2 on The PG 100.

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