As grocers continue to experiment with meal kits, The Kroger Co. is trying some new things with its subsidiary Home Chef.
In addition to the run-of-the-mill meal kits, Kroger and Home Chef will now pilot innovations such as an oven-ready option that requires minimal prep work and can be baked directly in its packaging, lunch kits and Heat & Eat meals, which are the company’s first ready-to-heat products.
The new options will first be available at Mariano’s in Illinois and Kroger stores in the Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, markets, with plans for a wider rollout as the year progresses.
Pat Vihtelic, founder and CEO of Home Chef, which Kroger merged with last spring, said the new solutions were created because “dinnertime needs are constantly evolving” and the updated options will allow them to meet more of those needs and cater to different lifestyles and levels of preparation and cooking times.
“Our new meal solutions provide additional flexibility for families and individuals who want to get a delicious meal on the table whether they have time to cook one of our meal kits from scratch or need something that can be prepared more quickly,” he said.
The oven-ready meals will offer fresh, ready-to-cook ingredients that are packed in an oven-safe tin so that consumers do not need to dirty a pan. The kits require less than five minutes of prep and are ready in about half an hour. Each meal serves two people at a price point from $8.50 per serving with recipes such as garlic butter salmon; blue cheese-crusted steak; Tex-Mex steak; chicken pesto al forno; arroz con pollo; and feta-crusted chicken.
The companies’ new lunch kits do not require any cooking, with a rotating menu of items, including grain bowls, salads sandwiches and tacos. The kits contain fully-cooked proteins and are priced from $6 per serving.
For the Heat & Eat option, shoppers can choose between several complete meals or mix and match items such as protein and sides. Priced from $6.50 per serving, the menu will rotate on a monthly basis. To start, complete meals include chicken with broccoli and seasoned mashed potatoes; pork al pastor; and bacon macaroni and cheese.
Mix and match options include garlic pork sirloin roast; baby back ribs; smoked turkey breast; sirloin steak; broccoli and rice; green beans; red potatoes; and carrots with rosemary.