Cook - less Meals - A Macro Food Trend blog

According to an article in leading food journal, Food Technology, meal solutions that require less cooking, culinary narratives and whole food nutrition are among the macro trends driving the food industry.

Cook - less Meals - A Macro Food Trend blog

15 March 2016

The trend for cook-less meals is the result of consumers’ increasingly busy lifestyles which results in an increasing need for convenience:

  • More than half (57%) of grocery shoppers are buying fresh ready-to-eat items (e.g. rotisserie chicken) often or sometimes.
  • 44% are buying fresh heat-and-eat foods.
  • More than a quarter (28%) of consumers say that they are preparing more meals in less than 20 minutes than they did five years ago.
  • One-pot meals up 29%.


Oven baking is the most common cooking method, but there is a difference in age when it comes to who is more likely to be preparing dinner at home with younger consumers less likely to be doing so:

  • Millennial consumers prepared dinner at home an average of 4.5 nights per week in 2014.
  • For Gen Xers, the average was 5.0.
  • Baby Boomers prepared dinner at home 5.1 nights per week.
  • At 5.2 nights per week the most meals prepared at home per week were for those 65+.


While consumers may prefer to cook-less, whole food nutrition remains important:

  • Half (49%) of shoppers are preparing more nutritious meals.
  • One in five U.S. households—mostly affluent, health-minded couples —overspend on fresh convenience foods.


In terms culinary narratives and ingredients for cook-less meals:

  • Meals using marinated meats/poultry were up 21%.
  • When it comes to sauces/marinades, spicy/hot flavors are preferred by 52% of consumers.
  • Ethnic dishes and marinated and value-added meats are more likely to be popular with younger millennial consumers.
  • Items that can “stretch the meat” (e.g. pasta), have risen 36% over the past five years.
  • Flavored basics (e.g., pasta, butter) that replace the need for a variety of spices are increasingly offered.
  • Garlic is the most popular flavor in meals prepared at home, followed by onion, red/green peppers, avocado, jalapeño peppers, nuts, balsamic vinegar, chives, feta cheese, ginger, scallions, cooking sherry, and seeds.


Cook-in-bag plays perfectly to the cook-less trend

Quickly prepared, nutritious meals are a fast-growing market with consumers interested in new products, upscale presentation and more exotic, gourmet food, with an eye on natural, nutritious, organic, and fresh foods.


Cook-in-bag packaging allows consumers to cook the product perfectly by simply putting the whole product in the oven and then cooking for the required temperature and time.  No preparation is required and the bag locks in moisture during cooking which results in nutritional values, flavor and color being retained, and a more succulent texture.

Cook-in-bags not only offer an easier, cleaner way to cook fresh food products in the oven or microwave, they also save 30-50% energy due to reduced cooking time as a result of holding in the steam, juices and heat to cook food faster.

Plastopil’s cook-in-bag solution - Thermo-Cook -  has a high shelf impact and low carbon footprint. Thermo-Cook films offer an easier, cleaner way to cook already-delicious, fresh food products that are meant to go directly into the oven or microwave. Available with high barrier or medium barrier, good tear and puncture resistance and excellent transparency, gloss, and clarity, the films can also be reversed-trapped printed and are designed to always open during the cooking process.



Are you interested in learning more about our chilled food flexible packaging solutions? We're waiting to hear from you!


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