I only worked outside the home as a mom for a few years, but I still feel for the working parents of today (along with very busy stay-at-homes) who want to give their kids something better than take-out or highly processed dinners. Thankfully, the “nearly homemade” market is booming.
This moment may sound familiar: It’s 4 p.m. on Wednesday, and you realize the dinner you had been planning to make isn’t going to work out.
It’s one of the most stressful points of weekday life, according to consumer research. Now in response, packaged-food companies and grocery stores are developing meals that aim to strike a delicate balance. They are quick and simple to prepare, but still feel like cooking a homemade meal.
The target market is a lucrative one. Companies say these are homes where women – and increasingly men – like to cook when time allows, and they generally spend more on groceries. They often feel guilty relying on frozen foods or boxed meals, but a busy day can back them into a prepared-food corner.
Companies are concentrating on meals that include just the right amount of steps, take just the right amount of time to prepare, and can include a little bit of fresh product that the consumer can add. These meals are an attempt to strike the balance between simplicity and activity, so parents can get a nice meal on the table without feeling like they’re “cheating.”