Retail Foodservice

Leverage prepared foods for weeknight meals

Macaroni and cheese
Photograph courtesy of Sandridge Food Corporation

Consumers are always seeking quick and easy meals they feel good about feeding their families—and as more people return to work and school, timesaving solutions are as in-demand as ever.

According to the Center for American Progress, 53% of U.S. school districts are now fully open, while 46% are following a hybrid model and just 1% are still fully remote. As for working Americans, more than one third of employees who switched to at-home work earlier in the pandemic are once again commuting to work, according to Technomic’s Q2 2021 C-Store Consumer Marketbrief.

Amid all these adjustments, it comes as no surprise that parents are outspending non-parents on foodservice by a wide margin, with parents spending nearly $58 more per week on average, according to Technomic research. This gives retailers an opportunity to compete with other foodservice operators; the grocerant can provide peak convenience for weeknight meals by offering dinners for busy consumers to pick up on the way home or while they shop for groceries.

Average Weekly Spending on Food Away from Home

Indeed, supermarket foodservice already boasts an advantage over restaurants in terms of convenience—and retailers can further compete by tuning into busy families’ food preferences and shopping habits.

For example, a great selection of prepared sides is key to increasing spend among those shopping prepared entrees, such as pairing rotisserie chicken with Sandridge Food’s White Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese or Butternut Squash. Offering an array of dishes that complement the grocerant’s most in-demand entrees ensures that any shopper can find something they want to add on to complete the meal and increase spend overall.

Prepared sides ought to look appealing, too: Unplanned purchases of grocery store foodservice have been gradually increasing each quarter starting in Q3 2020—so sides with great “shelf appeal” will help make the sale among undecided shoppers. Communicating quality and great taste is key; nearly half of consumers say quality is “very important” to them, according to Technomic’s March 2021 Supermarket Foodservice Consumer Marketbrief, and nearly half say the same of great taste, according to Technomic’s February 2021 Attribute Snapshot.

The Food Industry Association’s 2019 Power of Foodservice at Retail report identifies three additional priorities among retail foodservice shoppers: variety, speed and technology.

Delivering on variety and speed of service, as well as maintaining a digital presence, can require more time and labor behind the scenes, however. As labor challenges affect a number of industries, supermarkets can benefit from seeking ways to reduce labor in the prepared foods section.

For example, while keeping a variety of dishes on rotation is something most consumers want to see, it can also result in food waste and additional labor. One solution is to lean on prepared options to keep the grocerant menu fresh, especially when it comes to LTOs or seasonal offerings. Prepared foods not only boost efficiency behind the scenes by eliminating the need for prep work, but they also eliminate the risk of purchasing surplus ingredients that eventually go to waste.

When selecting prepared side dishes for the grocerant, lean into shopper food preferences. And to appeal to busy families, retailers should pay special attention to foods that complement their most popular entrees—all while keeping kid-friendly options and shoppers’ health priorities in mind.

If they were available, which of the following side items would you consider purchasing from retailers at least occasionally for lunch or dinner?

Prepared foods with scratch-made quality are a one and done solution for retailers looking to satisfy consumers with a variety of palates and dietary needs, all while keeping efficiency high and labor low. With entrees and sides ready to heat and serve; ready-to-eat salads and seasonal items; and precooked proteins, pastas and sauces that make housemade offerings a breeze, Sandridge has a solution for any retailer with any budget and any consumer base.

The grocerant is poised to be consumers’ one-stop shop for busy weeknight meals—Sandridge Food Corporation is here to help. To learn more, visit

This post is sponsored by Sandridge Food Corporation