corn pancakes with microgreens being served from a microwave dish and the headline Cook Chill Solutions for Niche Ready Meals

CHILLED & FROZEN READY MEALS: FROM DINNER DILEMMA TO STAR OF THE TABLE WITH COOK CHILL

Not too long ago in North America, chilled and frozen ready meals were what people begrudgingly resorted to when there just wasn’t time to cook. On those nights, households would look past the nutritional deficits, poor taste and odd textures the ready meal options provided in the name of speed and convenience. 

Today, the ready meal market in North America has come a long way from our ‘TV dinner’ beginnings. In fact, not only do delicious and nutritious ready-to-eat options abound in the chilled and frozen sections of our supermarkets, they’re being delivered directly to doorsteps as the specialized meal delivery and subscription market booms in the US and Canada.

Food manufacturing has also come a long way from its initial primitive concepts of preparing and storing foods using dehydration, curing, canning, and short-term refrigeration and freezing. Always worried about food safety and shelf-life, food manufacturers couldn’t mimic freshly cooked foods while also keeping them safe in transport. However, when the ready-meal industry exploded, the demand for at-home convenience foods rocked through the industry. To meet the consumer demand, many businesses found the cook chill method, introduced in the UK and Europe by DC Norris Chairman, David Norris, to be the solution and adjusted their operations to use this process.

WHAT IS THE COOK CHILL PROCESS?

The cook chill process has revolutionized the way food is safely cooked, cooled, packaged and served. From small commercial kitchens to industrial operations, the cook chill solution is perfect for any food processer who wants safe, fresh tasting, and long-lasting products.

During the cook chill process, food is cooked in batches and then bagged into smaller, more manageable quantities. After the cooked product is sealed into the specialized bags, the bags are then quickly cooled at safe temperatures. Since bacteria grow best in the “danger zone” range of temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, the chilling process rapidly cools products through these numbers, retarding bacteria growth and slowing spoilage.

Using the cook chill for bulk cooking has transformed the foodservice industry’s landscape. It has become an excellent solution for many businesses, including those in the ready-meal area, who have seen food safety improvements and their products’ longevity.

THE FUTURE OF COOK CHILL

With the shift of consumers looking for fast, convenient, specialized, real meals on the go, companies have turned to the cook chill process to create their ready-made meal lines. Incorporating the cook chill process to produce their food has enabled manufacturers to develop ready-made meals in bulk with results that are delicious, safe, and able to be delivered in-home. Companies like Factor75 or Mosaic offer their customers at-home, specialized meal options shipped directly to their doors. With many dishes to choose from or product specifications like organic or plant-based, consumers have the flexibility to select meals that meet their needs. At the same time, manufacturers can quickly adjust to product fluctuations and only cook what is needed to save on overage or spoilage. The cook chill process enables the user to cook in small-batch, or large-batch, making it the perfect solution for varying orders of ready-made meals.

Today, ready-made meals have made no signs of slowing down. In fact, the ready meals market is expected to grow at a rate of 5.5% from 2020 to 2027 to reach a market of about USD 244.29 billion by 2027. The ready baby and toddler food market is also predicted to see a big jump in 2021 as busy working families realize the convenience and new alternatives added to the ready-made baby food line of products.

ABOUT THE DC NORRIS COOK CHILL SYSTEM

As an industry standard with food companies worldwide, the DC Norris Cook Chill System uses ground-breaking cook chill equipment designed and manufactured in the UK. Providing the food industry with high-quality meals with a safe extended shelf life, the cook chill fleet of products always delivers. From our Steam Jacketed Kettles, Pump Fill Stations, and Tumble Chillers, DC Norris provides industrial and commercial food producers the convenience of delicious batch cooked foods that are safe and cost-effective. 

an image of the DC Norris North America industrial cook chill systems brochure