When it comes to frozen, ready-made meals, some of us are keeping secrets. According to a new survey by NestleUSA, 25 percent of Americans confess to having passed off frozen meals as their own culinary creation. Another 14 percent admit to having “accidentally” taken a co-worker’s frozen meal in the workplace.
These and other findings were released in a national poll by NestleUSA (commissioned with Impulse Research), which explored how today’s consumers perceive and use frozen foods.
Nestle, whose frozen aisle selections include brands like Lean Cuisine, Stouffer’s, Hot Pockets, Lean Pockets, DiGiorno and Haggen-Dazs, uncovered some unexpected insights, including the fact that frozen meals serve as an inspiration for many aspiring cooks. More than a third of respondents said they’ve tried to create their own version of a favorite frozen meal.
“This sneak peek into America’s freezers shows how ready-made meals have become must-have menu items,” said Christine Dahm, VP of marketing and innovation at Nestle Prepared Foods Co. “With today’s hectic schedules, people appreciate not only how frozen meals fit with their lifestyles, but also the better quality, variety and convenience that is available to them. It’s fun to discover how they’re using frozen every day.”
According to Mintel, net household usage of frozen or refrigerated meals is nearly universal (94 percent) among U.S. households. (Mintel, Frozen Meals-U.S., May 2012) And a recent Harris Survey conducted by Nestle showed, of all meals consumed, more than 80 percent are prepared at home and nearly two in 10 of those consist of frozen meals, an average of four meals per week.
Frozen foods at mealtime
• One in four (25 percent) of those surveyed said they’ve passed off frozen food as their own. Among this group, the trend is even higher among younger home cooks: 69 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 38 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds admit to taking credit for a frozen meal;
• Seventy-two percent said serving frozen food with a freshly made side dish or presenting it on a nice plate (65 percent) helps make it more believable as homemade;
• Sixty-four percent said their meals often consist only of frozen food;
• Twenty-seven percent said they mix frozen foods with fresh ingredients most of the time;
• Thirty-one percent said they’ve tried to create their own version of a favorite frozen meal; and
• Of those who use frozen foods to customize their family meals, 70 percent said they do it to accommodate personal taste preferences in their family.
Frozen meals in the workplace
• Twenty-three percent said they prepare frozen meals at work;
• Of these respondents, 51 percent said they turn to frozen as a convenient lunch option and 35 percent said frozen is a good option for a hot meal; and
• Fourteen percent admitted to having “accidentally” stolen a frozen meal from the freezer at work. That number jumps to 27 percent among 18- to 24-year-olds.
Inside America’s freezers
• While 72 percent called their freezer neat and tidy and well organized for easy access, 44 percent said they often find a U.F.O., or Unidentifiable Frozen Object, in their freezers;
• Survey participants report unusual items are stored in America’s freezers, including fish bait, glow sticks, bras, cigarettes, candles, batteries, money as well as credit cards, paintbrushes and even small family pets frozen until proper burial arrangements can be made; and
• The most popular items in freezers? Frozen meat or seafood, frozen vegetables or fruits, ice cream and ready-made meals.