Stop & Shop Tests Choose & Cook Program

Discussion
Jul 14, 2008

By Tom Ryan

Stop & Shop Supermarkets is testing a new program that appears to bridge the gap between pre-made and homemade meals. With key ingredients assorted in special refrigerated sections, Choose & Cook
promises to give consumers the ability to make homemade meals within twenty
minutes.

According to Supermarket News, Stop & Shop recently introduced the
component-based fresh family meals program to 34 locations in Massachusetts
and Rhode Island.

Under Choose & Cook, shoppers can choose from a selection
of entrees, sauces, side dishes and fresh vegetables – all located in a single
Choose & Cook refrigerated case in the select stores.

The grocer’s marketing
copy on the website proclaims, “If you’d love to serve your family fresh, exciting
meals every night but you just don’t have the time, try Stop & Shop’s new Choose & Cook.
Choose & Cook’s ingredients are freshly prepared and packaged for your convenience.
With one skillet and 20 minutes, you can make a great-tasting meal your whole
family can enjoy. Everything you need can be found in one convenient location
in the Choose & Cook case. And we’ve color-coded the ingredients so it’s easy
to shop. Or, mix and match ingredients to create your own unique dish.”

The micro website, www.stopandshop.com/chooseandcook, lists four easy steps
for the program:

  • Select An Entrée (freshly cut meat, poultry or seafood);
  • Choose A Sauce (to
    accent your meal);
  • Add a Side Dish (freshly prepared);
  • Complete Your Meal (with crisp, fresh vegetables).



Source: Stop & Shop

The six current options include sirloin beef teriyaki, chicken cacciatore, shrimp pad thai, tilapia provencal, chicken in burgundy mushroom sauce, and sweet chili chicken.

The website also reveals that Stop & Shop will be holding in-store cooking classes around the Choose & Cook program.

Discussion Questions: What do you think of Shop & Stop’s Choose & Cook program? Is there demand in the market for speedy, component-based fresh family meals sections at grocers? What will be the key to the program’s success?

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13 Comments on "Stop & Shop Tests Choose & Cook Program"


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Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
13 years 10 months ago

There’s always a market for good new ideas. Stop and Shop’s Choose & Cook program has immediate appeal today due to the economy, the press of time and the desire for something better.

Choose & Cook’s life span will be challenged by its price points, its products’ tastiness and its ability to come up with fresh new recipes regularly. Otherwise, it could be another hula hoop.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
13 years 10 months ago

The component based approach to cooking has worked for some independent catering companies. The question still remains, “Is it that people don’t know what to cook; don’t have enough options; or is it that they just don’t have time?” If it’s Option Three, this will be great for fast-foodies but won’t help the rest of us.

Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
13 years 10 months ago

I think this is an excellent idea. Central Market, HEB’s “foodie” stores, seemed to have great success with their pre-assembled meals for two; certainly when I lived in Texas, we made a lot of use of that particular offering, and if we were too late we were often out of luck–they were out.

I think whether it’s an issue of not knowing what to cook or not having time to cook, easy options that are fresh and exciting are always valuable. Kudos to Stop & Shop for trying something innovative–and customer-centric.

Max Goldberg
Guest
13 years 10 months ago

There definitely is a place for speedy, component-based, fresh meals. Consumers want to eat fresh food that is easy and fast to prepare. To be successful beyond the initial launch, Stop & Shop needs to regularly develop new recipes and food combinations and keep price points reasonable. If they can consistently price their offerings below family take-out fare sold in their own stores and by competitive retailers and restaurants, and maintain quality, they should have long-term success with this concept.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
13 years 10 months ago

If the food requires nothing but taking off the wrapping or opening the wrapping and putting in the microwave while eating utensils are being assembled and the result is tasty, this is a great idea. The long term viability will depend upon taste and variety.

If, however, the consumer actually has to be involved for 20 minutes doing things to prepare the food, then this may not be so successful–because consumers don’t want to be engaged for that length of time.

Warren Thayer
Guest
13 years 10 months ago

A good idea, but knowing shopper laziness and fickleness, I give it no better than a 50-50 shot. Definitely worth trying. How about signage comparing their meals with similar meals at restaurants, listing a price?

Laura Davis-Taylor
Guest
Laura Davis-Taylor
13 years 10 months ago

As Nikki mentioned, HEB has been doing this for years so it’s not an original idea…but it sure is nice to see others picking up on the trend. It says that they’re paying attention to their shoppers’ “life challenges” and responding.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
13 years 10 months ago

Something new and different is always good. Anything that helps the shopper eat better with convienience is a great idea. The overall goal is to get the customer excited about coming to the grocery store and this idea really does that. Stop & Shop should make sure that they have deployed well trained and enthusiastic associates to execute this program.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
Carol Spieckerman
13 years 10 months ago

The pre-made sauces are the only component that would seem to have any added value. True home cooks and nutrition-watchers don’t tend to like their veggies pre-cut (and there are the uncut versions just across the aisle so much cheaper) or their meat/seafood pre-chosen and it’s a myth that all non-cooks secretly aspire to meal-making. The packaging looks quite attractive though, and that alone may make all the difference in the world.

David Livingston
Guest
13 years 10 months ago

This will probably only work in certain areas. HEB knows where to do this and where not to do it. Over the past year I’ve seen three of these Meals by Design, or Thyme Savor franchises pop up only to be closed after about a month. When you can get Applebee’s to go for the same price, what’s the point?

Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
13 years 10 months ago

Out here, there are a couple of places where you can go on a Sunday and put together three or four ready-to-cook meals in a cooking class format so you know exactly what to do when you get home. It’s been pretty successful. I think there’s room for a broad spectrum of ready-to-cook ideas. It will probably be hit or miss for Stop & Shop based on location, but successful.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
13 years 10 months ago

Moms who make dinner 365 nights a year (like me) will think that this is a great idea. It’s really very complicated to plan a 7 complete dinners from a weekly shopping visit. This option allows a customer to come in and grab a cookable dinner without a lot of advance planning. Great idea. Expect other companies to copy it.

Mark Lilien
Guest
13 years 10 months ago

The meal asssembly business, like a million other retail ventures, looks easy but isn’t. If Stop & Shop can do this profitably, they deserve the Supermarket Innovation of the Year Award. It’s hard to sustain interest. It’s hard to sustain variety when most folks aren’t that adventurous in trying new things to eat. It’s hard to prove the value to shoppers trained and motivated to track the savings of every cent.

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