Demand for grocery delivery rose nearly five points in September compared to last year, according to data analytics firm Brick Meets Click.

What’s more, an overwhelming 92% of families plan to continue eating together at home at least as often as they do now, if not more often, research from sales and marketing agency Acosta found. 

“Eating at home became the norm during COVID-19. Our research found 31% of families have eaten dinner at home every day since COVID, compared to only 18% pre-pandemic,” said Colin Stewart, executive vice president of Business Intelligence at Acosta, in a statement. 

But staying creative with meal preparation has had some consumers looking for other ways to keep dinner interesting. 

“Across the world, customers are seeking higher-quality food without having to prepare it themselves from scratch. This has contributed to the popularity of ready-meal takeaways and quick delivery,” management consulting firm Oliver Wyman wrote in a 2020 article. “These demand shifts are transforming the supply side of the market, driving cafés and restaurants to adjust their business models. At the same time, this shift opens new horizons for grocers and supermarkets. The ready-meals delivery market can strengthen food retailers’ competitiveness.”

Restaurant takeout is a convenient option and can provide a variety of menu options, however “costs can quickly add up, with delivery service charges and price markups on third-party apps,” said Mark Fairhurst, VP of marketing at data firm Mercatus, in an article titled “Why ready-to-eat meals are an important investment for grocers.”

Data such as this presents an opportunity for grocery retailers to meet their shoppers’ needs by offering ready-to-eat meals in-store and online, Fairhurst noted. Expanding ready-to-eat meal options available online could be a smart business decision.

Online “ready-to-eat meals are typically available from a limited menu of products. They can be sold separately or in combination to make up a ready-made meal,” Fairhurst said, such as a roast chicken with salad and potatoes, or a pizza with selected toppings. 

Items such as these can be added to grocery orders and delivered to customers’ homes, but if customers go into the store, they have a wider variety of foods to choose from. 

“Entering the ready-meals delivery segment is a way for retailers to retain and increase market share,” Oliver Wyman noted. “This will lead to greater competition between food retailers and services delivering ready meals from cafés and restaurants. The strategy will help differentiate them from the competition and enable them to engage customers with a better value proposition.”