Prepared meals are one of the hotter trends in retail foodservice, capitalizing on consumers’ needs for quick dinner options that don’t necessarily come in a paper sack with fries and ketchup. A good portion of this trend centers around better-for-you foods, jumping on the trend of consumers keeping a closer eye on what they eat.
Now, Wegmans is rolling out a line of prepared meals developed from start to finish with nutrition in mind. The company’s Power Meals feature fresh, whole ingredients they say are “packed with amazing flavor served with balanced nutrition.” Instead of the company’s nutritionists tweaking existing recipes to make them healthier, the process began with those nutritionists setting parameters for the Power Meals.
“We’ve learned a lot in recent years about how nutrients like protein and fiber can help people feel satisfied longer, so they’re less tempted to make choices which don’t align with their health goals,” says Wegmans nutritionists Kirby Branciforte, RDN, says. “We also know what many people struggle with in terms of putting together well-balanced meals. So we created the guidelines for Power Meals for the chefs to follow in order to make it easier for folks.”
The meals range in cost from $8 to $15. More importantly to the health-conscious consumer, perhaps, are the nutrition facts, which never break the 600-calorie mark. Each meal has at least 25 grams of protein, at least one cup of vegetables and fewer than 1,000 mg of sodium and 10 grams of added sugar.
Programs like the Power Meals also help consumers track their eating habits, which is another burgeoning trend, boosted by smart watches and smart phone apps. With readily available nutritional information, consumers might be more likely to pick up a prepared meal.