Consumers Turned to Pre-prepared Food Meal Kits

Three meal kits tins are opened with a holiday themed meal
Artwork by Anthony Faust
Three meal kits tins are opened with a holiday themed meal

In the United States, the pandemic led to increased interest in meal-kit delivery and recipe boxes, as families stayed at home and looked for convenient and healthy meal options. Meal-kit companies had been on the scene for about ten years before the pandemic, but the U.S. meal-kit market took off like crazy, growing over 68 percent, reaching $5.8 billion in 2020.

At the height of the pandemic, around 10 percent of Americans reported using a meal kit in the past 30 days, according to the market research firm NPD Group. The groups that were the most likely to use these meal prep kits were millennials and Generation Xers, especially those who lived in urban areas.

The pandemic provided a perfect storm of conditions for the meal-kit popularity surge. People had more disposable income, as the first $1,200 stimulus checks went out in April 2020. People had time on their hands, with many people working remotely, and not a lot of ways to spend disposable income with many entertainment options still locked down. Dining options were either limited or made people feel uneasy to be eating in restaurants.

Meal kits filled a gap in the market. These delivered boxes from companies like Hello Fresh, Sun basket and Blue Apron, would deliver the ingredients right to the door, with easy-to-follow recipes and delicious foods, that would allow families to try something new, while also having an activity to do in their homes.

Restaurants such as Chick-fil-A, Bob Evans, and Denny’s also entered the meal-kit market, offering take home kits for families to prepare on their own, especially around holiday times, with turkey, ham and traditional holiday foods all packaged together. The popularity caused grocery stores like Kroger, Albertsons, Walmart, Whole Foods, and Publix to expand their offerings in the deli and freezer aisles.

Meal kits were a way to try new recipes and improve cooking skills. Others found meal kits helpful in reducing decision-making fatigue and keeping their children satisfied with dinner options. It was a fun way to stay home and eat delicious food during the pandemic.

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About the Author

My life as a husband and father transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sent home from work in March 2020, I've yet to return to the office. Adapting to the new pandemic world proved challenging for us all.

However, we managed to find silver linings. Drive-by birthdays brought joy to my kids' friends. I'll never forget stumbling upon a heartfelt hand-painted rock during my jog, reminding us that we're all in this together. Regular Zoom happy hours with close friends created cherished memories.

While quality time with my family was a blessing, we also faced hurdles. Assisting my youngest daughter with frustrating math homework on a poorly designed iPad app tested our patience. Both girls struggled with wearing masks during sports and school.

Sadly, witnessing COVID-19 being politicized and witnessing the closure of small businesses while the wealthy thrived was disheartening.

I wrote this book to document our experiences, learning from them and striving for better decisions in the future. Join me on this rewarding journey of resilience and growth.

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