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From taking up to 50 minutes in the oven to healthful, fresh tasting meals in minutes steamed in the microwave, the TV dinner has come a long way since the 1950s.
Massive improvements in the quality and taste of frozen meals have set the bar high and today’s meals are portion controlled and made easy with real, fresh-tasting ingredients that can be steamed in minutes. This is one of the reasons why frozen food is up 22 percent or $10 billion annually and is projected to be a $70 billion category by 2015, according to food giant ConAgra Foods.
In recognition of National Frozen Food Day on March 6, ConAgra is celebrating its decades of preparing frozen foods. From the original TV dinner, which came packaged in an oven-proof aluminum tray, to the vast array of fresh tasting options today, frozen meals have changed the way Americans eat. The aluminum tray was replaced in the 1980s with a plastic version suitable for the microwave, dramatically reducing preparation time. As American lifestyles and tastes changed over the decades, the frozen meal category has responded to consumer demand for healthier meals with more nuanced and sophisticated fresh flavors.
“As we mark National Frozen Food Day, we should acknowledge the great strides that have been made to improve the taste, convenience and nutrition of frozen meals,” said Al Bolles, ConAgra’s executive VP of research, quality and innovation. “Frozen meals today are prepared with fresh-tasting, high-quality ingredients featuring a variety of flavors from traditional to ethnic-inspired cuisine – many with lower fat, calories and sodium for great tasting, real food you can feel good about serving your family.”
ConAgra Foods’ frozen foods, including Healthy Choice and Marie Callender’s, have been at the vanguard of improving the taste, quality and nutritional content of frozen meals.
“ConAgra Foods is a pioneer when it comes to frozen food and we just keep making it better and better,” Bolles said. “When I look back at the progress and changes of frozen meals over the past half-century, I am excited to see what comes next.”
Omaha-based ConAgra Foods Inc. markets brands including Chef Boyardee, Egg Beaters, Hebrew National, Hunt’s, Marie Callender’s, Orville Redenbacher’s, Pam, Reddi-wip, Slim Jim and many others sold in grocery, convenience, mass merchandise and club stores.