Eating Your Ready-to-Eat Dinner in Style

This is not a focus on ready-cooked fast-food, but on well-prepared, high-quality, nicely presented everyday (home-delivered) dinners and party dinners. A little bit different from the famous fish-and-chips wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper. Your choice: Eating your ready-to-eat dinner directly from a plastic tray or off a proper china plate.

Cryovac’s Ovenable Foam Trays

Until now, ready-cooked meals have had a limited market because there has not been a good way of presenting them onto a china plate, let alone transfer them from the plastic transport tray to a china plate. Most people dislike eating directly from a plastic tray, they simply prefer to eat their dinner off a proper china plate.

The possibility to be able to eat the ready meal directly from one‘s own plate through a simple manoeuvre, makes way for a quality improvement in terms of the overall meal experience.

Disposable packs for convenience food (ready-to-eat meals) usually consist of a tray manufactured from cardboard, metal (mainly aluminium) or a plastic material with a thin, transparent plastic film which serves as a lid.

Conagra's rPET Microwaveable Tray

The majority of packs are manufactured with the intention that the food will be heated before it is consumed. Various different methods of heating are available, although the most common is, with the food still sitting in its packaging, to be heated in a microwave, in a conventional oven or by placing the package in hot water au-bain-marie. The lid of the package is removed either before or after heating. The meal can then be eaten directly from the pack.

Conagra's Healthy Choice Steaming Package

The presentation of the meal is not of a particularly high standard, because paper, aluminium and plastic plates impart a cheap feeling that cannot be compared to that of plates made of porcelain or other solid materials.

An alternative to eating directly from the packaging and improving the eating experience is to transfer the prepared meal manually to a china plate. However, not everybody is apt to arrange prepared food in an aesthetics way which leads without exception to the contents of the package becoming mixed together in an undesired fashion, with the consequence that the presentation of the meal is not as intended.

A falsely claimed solution for transferring the prepared meal to a plate without messing up the various components of a meal is to subdivide the package into different sections with dividing walls. The disadvantage of this solution is, among other things, that the edges of the sections make it difficult to eat directly from the tray. The presentation of the meal is also impaired in this case by the fact that the packs are manufactured from a disposable material. The presentation of the meal by this method depends entirely on the person who transfers the meal to the china plate.

Presently there are no packaging solutions available from which food can be transferred in a simple and smooth manner to a proper dinner plate, without spoiling the presentation of the food after it reaches the plate, or without spending a lot of time and effort in order to achieve an aesthetically pleasing arrangement.

So, what’s left for the consumers who want to break out of their everyday (fast-food or frozen) dinner routine and are hungry for great-tasting, restaurant quality meals they can easily prepare and present restaurant-style at home.

The Swedish company Innovative Design of Scandinavia AB differs from other players in the market of trays for prepared meals by offering the possibility of transferring the food from tray to plate while retaining presentation. The patented solution features the ability to transfer the nicely presented pre-packed portion of food to a (china) plate without losing the aesthetic value of the food’s presentation. All trays feature a simple mechanism allowing people of all ages to easily remove the bottom section of the tray pack.

The trays with their unique bottom are made in CPET and PS, while recently the company has been able to produce PP versions of the tray, using moulding technique. The packaging can be used for industrially produced ready-to-eat meals sold in the food industry, but also for culinary dishes from caterers, takeaways and hotels and restaurants open at night and where meals should be served, even when the usual kitchen staff is absent.

Beyond this, many companies will position their products as a more affordable alternative to going out, creating premium ready meals that give a restaurant experience at home, positioning themselves as a provider of healthy home-delivered meals.

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