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Kroger Co. stores test new Home Chef meal kits

Pilot brings meal solution brand into ready-to-heat category

Following up a broader retail rollout earlier this year, The Kroger Co. is adding several new convenience-focused choices to its Home Chef meal kit lineup.

Home Chef said Tuesday that it plans to test oven-ready, heat-and-eat and lunch kit meals at 68 Kroger Co. stores, beginning this month. The first locations to offer the new varieties will be Mariano’s stores in Illinois and Kroger stores in Ohio, the latter through the retailer’s Cincinnati and Columbus divisions.

Currently, Home Chef meal kits are sold in more than 900 Kroger Co. stores. The Cincinnati-based supermarket giant plans to roll out the new meal kits to stores in more markets this year.

“Our customers’ dinnertime needs are constantly evolving,” said Pat Vihtelic, founder and CEO of Chicago-based Home Chef, acquired by Kroger in May 2018. “We’re thrilled to meet more of their needs with high-quality meal options that consider different lifestyles and levels of preparation and cooking times.”

Designed to eliminate post-meal cleanup of cookware, the Home Chef Oven-Ready meal kits have fresh, ready-to-cook ingredients packed in an oven-safe tin. Each kit, serving two people, requires less than five minutes of preparation and cooks in about 30 minutes.

The oven-ready kits are priced at $8.50 per serving, and Home Chef said six recipes will be available in stores and rotate monthly. For the pilot, the kits include garlic butter salmon, blue cheese-crusted steak, Tex-Mex steak, chicken pesto al forno, arroz con pollo and feta-crusted chicken.

Home Chef noted that the heat-and-eat meals mark the brand’s foray into fully cooked, ready-to-heat products. Shoppers can buy complete meals, priced at $6.50 per serving, or mix and match separate proteins and side dishes.

New Home Chef Heat & Eat recipes will be introduced each month, including three complete meals and a variety of mix-and-match options. The first complete meals are chicken with broccoli and seasoned mashed potatoes, pork al pastor, and bacon macaroni and cheese. Initial mix-and-match dishes include garlic pork sirloin roast, baby back ribs, smoked turkey breast, sirloin steak, broccoli and rice, green beans, red potatoes, and carrots with rosemary.

No cooking is needed for the new Home Chef Lunch Kits, which include grain bowls, salads, sandwiches and tacos with fully cooked proteins that the company said can be prepared at home or the office. Priced at $6 per serving, the lunch kit recipes rotate weekly and currently include guacamole chicken salad sandwich, Greek pasta salad, chipotle steak and guacamole salad, buffalo chicken pasta salad, Baja chicken salad, green chili chicken sandwich, snappy chicken guacamole tacos, and Mediterranean steak and feta sandwich.

"Our new meal solutions provide additional flexibility for families and individuals who want to get a delicious meal on the table, whether they have time to cook one of our meal kits from scratch or need something that can be prepared more quickly,” Vihtelic said.

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