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Nestlé Takes a Fresh Look at Frozen Food Habits

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Solon, Ohio

 When it comes to frozen, ready-made meals, some of us are keeping secrets! According to a new survey by Nestlé USA, 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 Nestlé USA (commissioned with Impulse Research), which explored how today’s consumers perceive and use frozen foods.

Nestlé – a dominant force in the frozen aisle with such well-known brands as Lean Cuisine®, STOUFFER’S®, HOT POCKETS®, LEAN POCKETS®, DIGIORNO® and HÄAGEN-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, vice president of Marketing and Innovation, Nestlé Prepared Foods Company. “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,” she said.

According to Mintel, net household usage of frozen or refrigerated meals is nearly universal (94%) among U.S. households. (Mintel, Frozen Meals – U.S., May 2012.) And a recent Harris Survey conducted by  nestlé showed of all meals consumed, more than 80% are prepared at home and nearly 2 in 10 of those consist of frozen meals, an average of 4 meals per week.

Fresh Look at Frozen Foods Survey Results:

Frozen Foods at Mealtime

  • One in four (25%) 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% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 38% of 25- to 34-year-olds admit to taking credit for a frozen meal.
  • 72% said serving frozen food with a freshly made side dish or presenting it on a nice plate (65%) helps make it more believable as homemade.
  • 64% said their meals often consist only of frozen food.
  • 27% said they mix frozen foods with fresh ingredients most of the time.
  • 31% said they’ve tried to create their own version of a favorite frozen meal.
  • Of those who use frozen foods to customize their family meals, 70% said they do it to accommodate personal taste preferences in their family.

Frozen Meals in the Workplace

  • 23% said they prepare frozen meals at work.
  • Of these respondents, 51% said they turn to frozen as a convenient lunch option and 35% said frozen is a good option for a hot meal.
  • 14% admitted to having “accidentally” stolen a frozen meal from the freezer at work. That number jumps to 27% among 18 to 24-year olds.

Inside America’s Freezers

  • While 72% called their freezer neat and tidy and well-organized for easy access, 44% 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.
  • The most popular items in freezers? Frozen meat or seafood, frozen vegetables or fruits, ice cream and ready-made meals.

View infographic

More Benefits of Ready-Made Meals:

Today’s families can choose from a wide range of frozen ready-made meals that deliver great taste, solid nutrition, and cherished convenience. It’s easy to find portion- and calorie-controlled varieties that contain vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains especially when compared to restaurant offerings.

Additionally, ready-made frozen meals can easily be complemented by fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy balanced diet.

Not sure if you’re getting the most out of frozen foods? Try these tips from Nestlé Prepared Foods Company:

  • Mix frozen with fresh. For a variety of meal ideas, mix frozen with ingredients from your refrigerator. Respondents to the Harris Survey said that about one-third of their frozen meals are supplemented with fresh items. One way is to start with a main and add a vegetable as a side – or maybe multiple sides if you’re serving a whole family. Visit the Meal Maker tool at, or pair one of Lean Cuisine’s new Salad Additions with your own lettuce to create a delicious salad.
  • Freeze for flavor. Fresh produce in ready-made meals is often frozen rapidly, which helps to lock in flavor, color and texture. You can do the same at home with in-season produce, like blueberries for instance. Space them out on a tray (to avoid clumping), freeze them until they are firm and then store them in space-saving sealed bags or stacking containers. Freezing is a natural way to preserve food so it’s ready when you need it and is also a great way to minimize food waste.
  • Minimize your prep work. Frozen produce is already chopped and cleaned. It minimizes prep work so you can focus on creating a nutritious and delicious meal. Try using frozen produce as a short-cut in recipes for stir fries, casseroles, smoothies, and fruit desserts and use ready-made meals as a kick-off to your own creation.
  • Keep your portions in check. Individual frozen meals are portioned and calorie-controlled, so there’s no guesswork about their nutritional value. Along with portion size, you’ll find Nutrition Facts on each package, making frozen meals an important and convenient component in any weight management plan.

About the Surveys

The Impulse survey was conducted online with a random sample of 1062 men and women, 18+ -- all members of the Impulse Research proprietary online panel. The Impulse Research proprietary online panel has been carefully selected to closely match U.S. population demographics and the respondents are representative of men and women 18 +. Research was conducted February 28 - March 3, 2013.

The Harris survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of FoodMinds and Nestlé among 2,213 adults ages 18 and older. The results reflect respondents age 21+, who are grocery decision makers, and who prepare meals for their household (n=1,512). Research was conducted February 21-25, 2013.

About Nestlé USA

Named one of “The World’s Most Admired Food Companies” in Fortune magazine for sixteen consecutive years, Nestlé provides quality brands and products that bring flavor to life every day. From nutritious meals with Lean Cuisine® to baking traditions with Nestlé® Toll House®, Nestlé USA makes delicious, convenient, and nutritious food and beverage products that make good living possible. That’s what “Nestlé. Good Food, Good Life” is all about. Nestlé USA, with 2012 sales of $10 billion, is part of Nestlé S.A. in Vevey, Switzerland — the world’s largest food company with a commitment to Nutrition, Health & Wellness — with 2012 sales of $98 billion. For product news and information, visit or

Media contacts:

Roz O’Hearn
Nestlé Prepared Foods Company
(440) 264-5170
[email protected]

Mike Durand
MSL Seattle for Nestlé USA
(206) 270-4628
[email protected]