In 1930, English economist John Maynard Keynes famously predicted that his grandchildren would work about three hours a day. Today’s professionals, parents and students balk at this misaligned forecast. A 15-hour work week? Ha! A 2014 Gallup study found that American adults employed full time work an average of 47 hours per week—nearly a whole workday longer than the 9-to-5 standard. Indeed, consumers are busier than ever, which can make preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner from scratch a harrowing ordeal.
So what does this mean for natural retailers? It could mean expanding in-store foodservice options like premade salads, sandwiches, soups and desserts. But convenience shouldn’t stop there. Given the groundswell of smart, innovative brands now offering time-saving natural and organic products, you have even more opportunities to meet busy shoppers’ needs—and boost your sales. This excellent new crop of convenience products makes getting meals on the table super easy and also supplies scrumptious, sufficient nutrition on the go.
New opportunities include fortifying your frozen foods selection, featuring healthier point-of-sale products that delight taste buds while bucking hunger and stocking innovative nosh that shoppers can easily enjoy on the road. After all, ingredient integrity in your convenience offerings is what’ll really set you apart from conventional stores.
“We’re in the business of helping to promote more sustainable food,” says Kelly Swette, owner and CEO of Sweet Earth Natural Foods, which recently debuted a line of artisan-crafted frozen entrées. “To make a difference, we have to offer food that’s convenient, but also offers that something extra. Not everyone has time to cook. So how can you offer shortcuts to prepared foods that offer affordable indulgence?”
Here are some tried-and-true ideas.
How to re-energize a sleepy category? By replacing highly processed staples with next-gen frozen meals featuring organic ingredients, special diet–friendly recipes and global flavors.
Amy’s Meals For Two Chili Mac & Cheese
This creamy, slightly spicy, gluten-free macaroni and cheese is classic comfort food. Organic rice pasta blends with white cheddar, organic red beans, green chilies, organic tofu and smoked paprika for a stick-to-your ribs dish. Every bag contains two sizeable servings, each offering 16 grams of protein. SRP: $8.29
Daiya Supreme Pizza
The ultimate I’m-so-hungry meal gets a kind makeover. This gluten-free, vegan ’za is best baked in the oven until melty and delicious. Made with Daiya’s own soy-free, tree nut–free, dairy-free cheese (a cool concoction of coconut oil, pea protein and vegetable glycerin) and Beyond Meat’s Italian-style meatless sausage crumbles, this crave-inducing pie is perfect for at-home movie nights. SRP: $9.99
Kashi Chimichurri Quinoa Bowl
Kashi jumps on the plant-based meal train with this new (package-pending) frozen meal that delivers generous servings of protein-packed red quinoa sourced from a collective of family farms in Bolivia. This vegan, bright bowl is topped with an herbaceous Argentinian-inspired grilling sauce and tender, Non-GMO Project Verified veggies and lentils. SRP: $3.99
Sambazon Açaí Organic Performance Protein
Morning meals become a cinch with these handy, individually packaged smoothie bases that are USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified. Your consumers will love sipping fair-trade açaí puree, strawberry puree and 12 grams of vegan brown-rice protein for breakfast. Simply blend as is, or mix with almond or coconut milk for a creamier smoothie. SRP: $6.99 to $7.99
Sweet Earth Natural Foods Moroccan Tagine
It would take hours (and extensive culinary know-how) to whip up a dish comparable to this flavorful Middle Eastern–inspired vegan meal. Truth be told, it’s hard to believe this lavish bowl of bulgur wheat, garbanzo beans, sweet potatoes, seitan and almonds comes from a frozen box. It microwaves in minutes and delivers 10 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber. SRP: $3.99 to $4.99
Stock these easy-grab options near your checkout registers to encourage healthy snacking and conscious meal replacements.
Chimp Food Nuts
When sitting down for a full meal is impossible, this 380-calorie meal replacement chock-full of protein, fiber and nutrients does the trick. It features a flavorful blend of raw almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios and walnuts, plus raw dates to infuse sweetness and moisture. Also check out Chimp Food’s whole-food pureed beverage brimming with 25 fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. SRP: $3.49 to $3.99
Seven Sundays Blueberry Lemon & Chia Muesli Square
This slightly soft Non-GMO Project Verified breakfast bar is Seven Sundays’ answer to a hearty bowl of muesli on the go. Made with wholesome foods like gluten-free oats, organic honey, sunflower seed butter, coconut oil, date paste and chia, this fruity-tangy bar certainly satisfies. Each square delivers 250 high-quality calories and 5 grams of protein. SRP: $1.99
Gaea Olive Snack Pitted Green Olives with Chili & Black Pepper
Place these handy packets of salty, tangy green olives at checkout and watch them disappear. Marinated in Greek spices, this vitamin E–filled snack satisfies sans sugar. We also love this company’s commitment to developing long-lasting agricultural partnerships in Greece and making carbon-neutral products. SRP: $2.99
Navitas Naturals Superfood + Goji
From a brand known for its antioxidant-packed single ingredients comes a 190-calorie snack bar filled with nutritious fruits and grains, including goji berry, pomegranate, açaí powder and quinoa. It’s a tasty way to consume wholesome foods, and with 4 grams of protein, it’ll stave off shoppers’ hunger until their next meal. SRP: $2.29
Justin’s Maple Almond Butter with Pretzels
No spoon or knife needed for this genius snack pack from a beloved brand. Instead, just dunk crunchy, salty pretzel sticks (made with wheat, non-GMO malt extract, salt and yeast) into Justin’s signature maple sugar–spiked almond butter. This mess-free 190-calorie snack is perfect for lunches or long car trips. SRP: $1.99
Goodbye, fast food. Hello, exciting new array of natural products that make it easy to eat well on hectic mornings, during rush-hour commutes and while picking the kids up from school.
10th Avenue Tea Tropical Instant Tea Powder
Hot tea is pretty easy to make at home. But what if you don’t have access to a microwave? That’s where this super-fine, mango-kiwi-peach-flavored green tea powder comes in. In hot or cold water, add a few shakes of this dissolvable tea powder—no tea bag needed. It’s an eco-friendly, convenient way to get in the good stuff. Bonus: Each 1.38-ounce container makes 60 cups. SRP: $10
Cucina & Amore Artichoke and Roasted Pepper
A cup of cooked quinoa? Great! A cup of cooked quinoa with a savory-spicy veggie sauce? Even better! Cucina & Amore wins by packaging a high-fiber, high-protein meal in a BPA-free, microwave-safe container. Two compartments separate the quinoa and sauce until ready to eat, keeping the grains from getting soggy. Oh, and there’s a spoon included, too! Also check out the fantastic Mango & Jalapeno flavor. SRP: $3.50 to $4.50
Plum Organics Mighty Mealtime Cheesy Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese
These toddler-approved meals are dried and shelf stable, and can be fixed in minutes for "hangry" little ones. Each USDA Organic packet contains miniature whole-wheat macaroni perfect for messy eaters, organic cheese and sweet potato for added nutrition. A dusting of nutmeg boosts flavor and interest. Just add water, and microwave for two-and-a-half minutes. Viola, dinner. SRP: $1.89 per packet
We can’t think of a better breakfast. Each bottle of this drinkable, high-protein yogurt—supercharged with spinach, pineapple and ginger extract—is wrapped in a tube of nutrient-dense granola made with toasted oats, chia seeds, almonds and honey. Dump the granola into the yogurt, and you’ve got a dreamy, creamy beverage with a satisfying crunch. SRP: $4.79
Burma Love Laphet Fermented Tea Leaf Salad Mix
We’re obsessed with this Burmese salad kit, a hot commodity at San Francisco-based restaurant Burma Superstar. Take the pouch of umami-esque fermented tea leaves (called "laphet") and mix with fresh romaine, your choice of freshly chopped vegetables and a sprinkle of the garlicky, peanut-y traditional Burmese crunchy mix. Boom! There’s lunch or dinner. SRP: $12