Dinner Distress

Let’s face it. Dinner isn’t as easy as it used to be. Running to your neighborhood restaurant or ordering take-out on a daily basis is a thing of the past. The recession has caused consumers to change their eating behavior and make numerous compromises to stay within their shrinking budgets.

One trade-off is that consumers are cooking at home more often to save money. Therefore, consumers are giving up many things associated with this new behavior − the restaurant dining experience, trying new and unique foods, and and sampling meals from talented chefs who get the food right every time. Just because consumers are cooking at home more often doesn’t mean that they know what they’re doing in the kitchen.

What does this all mean? Less money, less time, and less confidence to create meal solutions every single day.

Luckily, many retailers and manufacturers are responding to the concerns of their distressed shoppers. They have rolled out programs that offer shoppers easy-to-make meal solutions on a tight budget or chef-quality meal solutions for less than the restaurant price. Both types of programs have been well received with different types of shoppers. Here are a few examples:

Kraft® iFood Assistant. This app gives consumers simple, delicious food ideas, anytime and anywhere they go. It provides how-to videos, smart 1-2-3 recipes, shortcut tips, and a built-in shopping list − all of which are designed to save time. It is now one of the 100 most popular iPhone® paid applications.

• ConAgra Foods® Simple & Delicious e-Newsletter. This weekly e-mail newsletter provides shoppers with a database to find recipes, meal ideas, meal-planning tips, and special offers that are all related to ConAgra products. In a recent newsletter, Simple & Delicious featured “Meal Ideas for Under $10” − an enticing offer in today’s environment. The Simple & Delicious website also offers Simple & Quick Meals, Budget-Friendly Meals, and Cooking 101 videos − solutions for every type of cook.

Safeway® “Make It Tonight” Meal Solutions and Safeway® Blog. The “Make It Tonight” program showcases proprietary recipes made from national-brand products that can be used to make quick, cook-at-home meals under Mexican and Italian culinary themes. The recipes are featured on double-sided recipe booklets that also contain product coupons. The Safeway® blog also features meal solutions and consumer comments about recipe ideas and current Safeway deals.


• ShopToCook Meal-Planning Kiosk. ShopToCook, a provider of recipe
content for supermarkets, has kiosks installed in supermarkets across
America. The kiosks provide recipe ideas, ingredient lists, and aisle
locations for each ingredient. ShopToCook data shows that 62% of
shoppers who printed a recipe in the store purchased ingredients on
that same trip.

• Kraft® and Walmart® “Simple Mealtime Ideas.” These solutions include an entire dedicated aisle at Walmart Supercenters that group 51 Kraft products into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacking sections. It is an integrated campaign that includes text messages and print ads that drive shoppers to the aisle. The program improved sales for both Walmart and Kraft, and enhanced the shopping experience for shoppers.

Kraft Walmart Meals

These meal-based programs are not the only “recession solutions” that retailers have developed. Target has rolled out several programs that focus on enhancing shoppers’ at-home experience and include taglines such as, “So much fun for such small prices,” and “Impress your guests for less.” Home Depot has also focused on turning shoppers’ attention to upgrading their homes rather than building or buying a new home. With any luck, this economic situation will teach consumers that less is actually more and that making trade-offs really isn’t that bad.

– Contributed by Vanessa Munson