The Great Meal Cost Comparison

September 2, 2022

As the strain on consumers’ wallets persists, prepared meals at retail come to the rescue with fresh and convenient solutions that ease sustained inflation impacts

The Dining Out Price
is Not Right

While it’s no secret that prices across industries are on the rise, ever-increasing costs for meals are presenting an especially challenging hardship as consumers look for reliable, convenient ways to feed their families – and themselves – without breaking the bank.

A recent price index study conducted by FreshRealm found that meals are up by wallet-shattering percentages year over year. The price index evaluated the places consumers shop for meals out of home - fast food, fast casual, and traditional restaurants. The index showed that for example, at McDonald’s, the Big Mac that was $5.29 last summer now costs $7.39 (and that’s without fries) while in some cities, the price of a Steak Burrito Bowl at Chipotle jumped from $8.95 to $12.70 between 2021 and 2022. Outside of drive-thru and fast casual, the cost of Red Lobster’s Wild Caught Snow Crab Legs rose from $22.99 in 2021 to a whopping $39.99 this year.

Consumers Get Creative

Consumers are not immune to these rising costs – and they are already on the hunt for viable new ways to navigate inflationary prices. According to a recent CNBC report, second quarter reports from McDonald’s and Chipotle confirmed that customers squeezed by inflation are opting for cheaper menu items and visiting both restaurants less overall. And when it comes to traditional restaurants, consumers reported similar levels of spending at restaurants in June 2022 compared to June 2021 amid signs of slowing growth according to Morning Consult’s 2H 2022 The State of Food and Beverage report.

As consumers look to lower their food costs, they have been replacing trips to restaurants with trips to the grocery store. Leading to the growth of the “hybrid meal,” where consumers are making meals by cooking some items from scratch, and some items are either semi-prepared or fully prepared, according to IRI’s Fresh Pulse podcast.

Dining Out at your
Grocery Store

Fresh prepared high quality meals at retail present a great value for consumers in both single serve and family formats. According to the FreshRealm price index study, fresh prepared meals at grocery retail range from $6.99 - $9.99 for a single serving meal and family meals that serve 4+ range from $5.00 - $6.00 per serving. FreshRealm’s recently launched branded meal portfolio, Kitchen Table, includes delicious, chef-tested microwave-ready and oven-ready meals including Wild Caught Everything Spice Salmon, Alfredo Truffle Cavatappi with Spinach, and Family Meals that include Butter Chicken with Turmeric Rice and Cheese Enchiladas with Rice and Beans. 

FreshRealm, a leading provider of fresh meals for top retailers nationwide, equips grocers with meal options that deliver on convenience, quality, and value all at once. FreshRealm’s assortment of branded and private label meals range across cuisines to ensure there are meals that suit every palate. Each chef-created, fresh, and flavorful meal requires no or low prep, resulting in a grocery meal option that not only eases strain on wallets, but also eliminates meal prep pressure.

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