Heat and serve meals or ready meals or T.V dinners are a prepackaged frozen or chilled meal that usually comes as an individual portion. It requires very little preparation and contains all the elements for a single-serving meal.
The original TV Dinner came in an aluminium tray and was heated in an oven. Most frozen food trays are now made of microwaveable material, usually plastic.
Unfrozen pre-cooked ready meals, which are merely chilled and require less time to reheat, are also popular and are sold by most supermarkets. Chilled ready meals are intended for immediate reheating and consumption. Although most can be frozen by the consumer after purchase, some may have to be fully defrosted before reheating.
Many different varieties of frozen and chilled ready meals are now generally available, aimed at different market groups. These including "gourmet" recipes, organic and vegetarian dishes, diet specific, traditional foreign cuisine, and smaller children's meals.
A TV dinner usually consists of a cut of meat, usually beef or chicken, with a vegetable, such as peas, corn or a potato, and sometimes a dessert, such as a brownie or apple cobbler. The entrée could also be pasta or a common type of fish, such as Atlantic cod. Rice is a common side item.
The freezing process tends to degrade the taste of food and the meals are thus heavily processed with extra salt and fat to compensate.
In addition, stabilizing the product for a long period typically means that companies will use partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (a type of trans fat which is considered to have negative health benefits) for some items (typically dessert).
The dinners are almost always significantly less nutritious than fresh food and are formulated to remain edible after long periods of storage, thus often requiring preservatives such as BHT (a controversial additive which is linked to hyperactivity and cancer). There is, however, some variability between brands.
TASK 6: Heat and Serve Meals 1. List 3 consumer groups which heat and serve meals are marketed towards. Give a reason why each of these groups may purchase this type of product. - Elderly people: Because they do not want to have to make a big dinner for just themselves every night and it's a much easier as well as healthy approach. - Single parents: Very convenient, do not have to get home from a hard day of work and make dinner as well as everything else. - Full time workers: Quick and easy, healthy, no fuss. Don't need to bother doing big grocery shopping trips etc.