Meal Kits: Culinary Creations On Your Doorstep

Meal kits are becoming a big industry. Technomic predicts that the meal kit market could grow to five billion dollars over the next decade. Blue Apron is the biggest meal kit company in the world as it ships over eight million meals every month. After becoming subscribers, people then go online and choose from recipes Blue Apron provides. After people receive their package, they find a box with all of the ingredients and directions on how to cook it.

mealkitsThere are many benefits to this way of handling dinner. The most important aspect is that meal kits are teaching people how to cook and giving them confidence in their abilities. They also allow people to save time by eliminating the grocery shopping and the searching for those hard to find ingredients. Meal kits also can accommodate different types of diets like organic, vegan, and vegetarian. Lastly, they encourage people to try new foods by giving people the ingredients delivered right to their door, and having very easy to follow instructions.

There are some downsides to meal kits though. These kits are more expensive than traditional grocery shopping, with the average per person meal price around $11.50. Another concern is the nutrition, with critics saying the portions are too big and the food contains too much sodium or fat. The final concern with meal kits is the packaging. Many customers do not like the excessive and wasteful packaging these meal kits come in. There is not a perfect packaging solution yet as the concept of meal kits is very new to the market.

A survey taken by Mintel showed 21% of people have used a meal kit service, while 40% of millennials surveyed have used a meal kit. According to this survey, the this trend is catching on and will continue to grow.

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Lemon Blueberry Cake

Slow cooker cake? You bet.  Our culinary team has worked with our bakery division and come up with a mix that takes the guess work out of baking. Request a sample and try this out at home, you will be shocked at how easy it is to bake in a crock pot.

lemoncakeIngredients:
450 g NWF lemon cake mix A20177
3 eggs
½ cup oil
1 cup water
1 ½ cups blueberries

Directions:
• Mix all ingredients, except the blueberries, in a bowl
• Gently fold in blueberries
• Spray slow cooker with non-stick spray
• Pour batter into slow cooker
• Cook on low for 5 hours or until the center is cooked through

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Chef, Plus 1 To The Rescue

TGIF, the weekend is finally here and we are looking forward to some time at home. Except I forgot tonight is the final band concert for the 8th graders. “Looks like a carry out night.” And Saturday we need to get up early to take Sam to his golf tournament. This will leave us just a few minutes to pick up what’s needed at the hardware store to finish our home projects. We can get a coffee and muffin on the way and then eat lunch, near the course, while Sam finishes his round. At least we can have dinner at home. Except Sam is starving after golf so a snack on the go is a must, and now we’ve run out of time to prepare a good home cooked meal. Eating at home for sure on Sunday, if we have time after finishing the yard work and the painting we started last weekend. Oh yeah, Mary is flying home from DC on Sunday, so someone will need to make an airport run. Ran out of time again.

“Let’s make sure we get some dinners planned at home next week.” Sound Familiar?

Help! I want a home cooked meal, but I never seem to have time.

Chef, Plus 1 to the rescue; Plus 1 ideas can help save precious time, making it easier to plan ahead and let you “chef-up” your meals. By adding some unique and quick touches to common food items you can make any meal a little more special and flavorful.

PLUS ONE – PLAN AHEAD

  • ‹ When you roast a chicken always roast more than one since the oven is already on. Now you can eat the parts you like the most first, and save or freeze the rest for another day. ‹
  • Grilling is time consuming, because good things take time. While the grill is on add a few more items that can be used later. If you are cooking burgers and dogs for today, try grilling Italian sausage and onions at the same time, for later in the week. Just combine with a jar of tomato sauce to make it your own.

PLUS ONE – CHEF IT UP

You can Plus 1 (chef it up) any recipe or food prep by taking just a few quick steps. ‹

  • Sprinkle a little flake salt (smoked) on top of your steak just before serving ‹
  • Drizzle a little balsamic glaze (store bought & reduced) over a salad after plating ‹
  • Char or toast the bread when you make a sandwich ‹
  • Buy good olive oil, it makes a difference

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Protein Snacks

With summer vacation behind us, we are back to a regular routine with work and school. As our lives become even more fast paced and we adjust to accommodate our busy schedules, so must our attitudes change towards food. Snacking has become the norm for many Americans seeking to energize and satiate their hunger on the go. Ninety percent of Americans snack during the day and snacking now represents almost 50% of all eating occasions. In fact, 8% of Americans have replaced all meals with snacking throughout the day. It is no wonder that consumers are now seeking high protein snacks to give them the satisfaction and energy that a full meal would provide, and food service providers and consumer packaged goods companies alike have rallied to provide solutions.

protien1In food service, we see many QSR’s and c-stores providing affordable, smaller portioned, handheld, and on-the-go options on their menus. Whether it’s convenience store roller grills or the value menus at your local fast food chain, the options are neatly presented and accessible.

protien2In retail, there is a plethora of new snacking launches incorporating animal and plant proteins. On the animal protein side, companies have launched meat snacks portioned for one. New jerky brands and flavors are popping up, and meat is becoming a key ingredient in snack bars. Plant protein snacks are also attracting consumers, with ancient grains such as chia & quinoa to pulses like lentils or chickpeas being incorporated into crackers and tortilla chips.

We expect to see further innovation activity surrounding protein snacking in the coming years with an even wider range of flavor and ingredient offerings that appeal to the consumer on the go.

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Grocery Consumers Choose Convenience Over Nutrition

Prepared food has become a massive industry at about 29 billion dollars a year, growing twice as fast as overall grocery store sales. A recent survey of 63,000 participants found that more than 50% had purchased prepared meals at the supermarket. This trend can be explained by the convenience aspect where people can shop for retail and foodservice products in the same place, as well as following the other themes of time efficiency, health/nutrition and value for the money. Consumers have been buying prepared food at a very high rate, but possibly not all consumer expectations are being met.

supermarketNot all prepared food is fully prepared in store, according to a study conducted by Consumer Reports. Only around 50% of prepared meals purchased were actually made on premise. Another potential problem can be found in the nutritional value of the food. Made in store does not necessarily mean free of preservatives or ingredients found in processed foods. Many meals reviewed in the survey were found to have higher than recommended levels of sodium, fat, and other undesirables. The nutritional value is also hard to judge because there are no serving sizes available for consumers. An additional concern could be the higher price for prepared meals compared to those made at home. In some cases, the prepared foods could be twice as expensive.

Even with these downsides, convenience is key. Consumers have limited time and the last thing they want to do is spend their few free minutes in the kitchen. This is what is driving the prepared food trend.

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Dry Rubs & Pastes

Sometimes you already have that perfectly tender piece of meat, but it could use a little flavor enhancement. Enter the dry rub. It forgoes the acids normally used to break down connective tissue in the protein, and instead focuses on dry components like aromatics and spices to add taste and visual appeal.

dryrubAnother benefit is that the dry rub will form a crust, adding a great texture to the eating experience. You can add in an oil or soy sauce too, forming a paste if desired, but in either case application is the same. Gently apply the rub or paste and evenly coat the protein. The best way is to just use your hands.

Unlike a marinade, you can apply a rub just before cooking and get the same great taste benefit. However, if you want to get the rub flavor deeper into the muscle, wrap the meat in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for a few hours. Careful! You don’t need a lot of rub to get that flavor. A little goes a long way and you could overpower that delicious cut of meat.

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Plus One Ideas

Cream Cheese

Strawberry Yogurt Dip
1lb cream cheese
½ cup strawberry puree
½ cup vanilla Yogurt

Chive Cream Cheese
Whip 1lb of cream cheese
Add fresh chopped chives from your backyard garden (TT)
I like a little cracked black pepper

Salad Dressing

Italian Bacon Parm
1 cup of your favorite Italian dressing
1 tbsp “fresh” grated Parmesan (not the green plastic jug)
3 tbsp “cooked” Benton’s Bacon pieces (or you favorite bacon)

Spicy Avocado Ranch
1 cup ranch dressing
¾ cups pureed avocado
2 tbsp hot sauce
1 tsp lime juice

Mustard

Zesty Orange Mustard
¾ cup Dijon mustard
1 ⅓ cup orange marmalade

Creamy Dijon Sauce
1 cup Dijon mustard
2 cups sour cream
Black pepper (TT)
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 tbsp tarragon

Mayo

Shrimp Dip
1 cup mayo
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp Chesapeake Bay seasoning
2 tbsp chopped chive

India Dip
1 cup mayo
⅓ cup sour cream
½ cup orange marmalade
1 tsp curry powder

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Keep It Hot

Don’t forget; always cook food to its minimum safe temperature to prevent foodborne illness.

  • Ground beef, pork, and lamb – 160⁰F
  • Poultry – 165⁰F
  • Fresh beef, pork, or lamb – 145⁰F

newdefenstat

Cooking to a safe temperature is your first line of defense against foodborne illness but, Newly Weds Foods’ DefenStat can provide a further layer of protection from E. coli and Salmonella in raw meat and poultry if and when minimum temperatures are not achieved. Contact your Newly Weds Foods sales representative to find out more.

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S’mores Popcorn

popcorn¼ Cup Popcorn Kernels
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
Salt To Taste
2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
¼ Cup Confectioner’s Sugar
¼ Cup Crushed Graham Crackers
¼ Cup Mini Marshmallows

  • Make Popcorn: Combine 1 Tbsp vegetable oil and ¼ cup popcorn kernels in a disposable pie pan. Seal the pan in foil, making a dome shape on top. (Use 2 sheets of foil, if needed, to cover.)
  • Grill over high heat, shaking, until the popping stops, about 8 minutes.
  • Season with salt.
  • Toss popcorn in a bowl with 2 Tbsp cocoa powder and ¼ cup each confectioner’s sugar, crushed graham crackers and mini marshmallows.

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Adding Fuel To The Fire

As a first step, determine the cooking method for that optimal grilling experience. More traditional grilling tends to call for the use of charcoal briquettes because of consistency and quick prep time. Pit-masters and barbecue enthusiasts like to try their hand with hardwood to add desired flavor characteristics from the smoke to their barbecuing masterpiece.

charcoal

Interesting Facts:

Charcoal Briquettes:

Invented by Henry Ford as a by-product of making fuel to run his factory. They are manufactured by burning wood product in the absence of oxygen until the wood is reduced to carbon and starch binders, then ground coal is added. The result is the formation of briquettes.

Hardwood Lump Charcoal:
Additive free charcoal that comes in irregular shapes, also known as pure charcoal. Hardwood is burned in closed containers with very little oxygen, until it is turned into carbon. Using Hardwood Lump Charcoal creates a hotter fire, burns clean, holds heat longer, and responds to oxygen more quickly allowing for greater control of the fire.

Hardwood:
Can be difficult to cook with because of the irregularities in size, consistency and moisture, even within the same log. Resin and knots within the wood will affect the burn. This method of fuel requires a longer set up time to cook correctly, and should be noted that only woods that are seasoned and aged are recommended for use.

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