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July 6, 2020

The Family Dinner is Back!

It’s five o’clock on a Tuesday pre-pandemic. Time for soccer practice, ballet class, helping with homework, taking the dog on a walk, and finishing up work reports. How on earth does one squeeze in a family dinner? Flash forward to five o’clock on a Tuesday mid-pandemic and you’ll see the family dinner is back! As uprooted as Covid-19 has made us all feel, it has forced a slowdown of our busy lifestyles and given families the opportunity to connect once again at the kitchen table.
The past few months have brought on a lot of meal planning, grocery delivery, and cooking at home. From that, 25% of consumers say they are sick of having to cook more. That number increases for Gen X to 32% and households with children to 35%. To create additional revenue streams while traffic is low, restaurants have seized the opportunity to create meal kits and family bundles for guests to enjoy at home. They’re welcoming these with open arms, as 42% of consumers have ordered a family meal bundle at least once during Covid-19, and the concept has staying power. Thirty-eight percent say they will likely continue ordering family meal bundles after Covid-19 (Datassential, Here I Come Report, May 20, 2020).

protein_blog_11-14.pngOne approach is to start the meal for them, and let customers finish it at home. Send them with a packaged tin of an assembled Chicken Pot Pie, pastry crust and all, along with instructions to complete baking it at home. Pair this comforting classic with a green salad and other vegetables that can roast in the oven as the pie bakes.  
Let family members of all ages join in the fun of preparing dinner. Provide wooden skewers, chunks of ancho-flavored chicken thighs, fresh pineapple, and bell peppers for parents and kids to assemble kabobs. Complete this package with instructions for cooking the skewers, an al pastor sauce for drizzling, and a side of Caribbean cilantro lime rice.
Or give them all the finished components and family members can customize their individual meals. Create a family pack of Tinga-Style Pulled Pork by slow braising pork shoulder in a chipotle vegetable broth finished with our Custom Culinary® Tomatillo Serrano Sauce. This pack can work for bowls, tacos, or salads and include griddled corn and poblanos, black beans, and rice.
The challenge of finding ways to serve families from their own kitchen tables is a fun one. For more menu ideas, along with suggestions of on-trend flavors, packaging, and promotions, see our Inspired Carryout & Delivery Menu Guide. And as you continue to push through 2020, take a few minutes to read our latest white paper for a look at recovery and the new normal. As always, we’re just a click away if you need anything. Stay healthy, friends!

Joe Beitzel
Brand Marketing Director
Custom Culinary, Inc.