In the 12 years I’ve been running The Six O’Clock Scramble family meal planner, people have often asked me if I want to expand the business into meal delivery or even a restaurant. I always said NO WAY! While I love having a service that helps families make healthy dinners happen, I couldn’t imagine having real physical inventory, let alone perishable food!
But a few months ago, I was approached by the National Association of Convenience Stores and The Project on Nutrition and Wellness (PNW), about a new way to get families sharing healthy dinners at home. I was in an open-minded place and ready to face a new challenge, even if it involved transporting and selling baby spinach, peas, and carrots.
After months of development, we launched a pilot test for all-in-one dinner kits: The Six O’Clock Scramble Fresh & Fast Family Dinner Kits™.
The kits allow time-starved customers to quickly prepare nourishing family meals in less than 30 minutes and with no advance planning or trips to the grocery store.
We kicked off our pilot on September 29 at Square One Market convenience store in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Since then, we’ve been hearing from other convenience store chains from around the country that are interested in offering the kits to their customers.
The all-in-one kits make dinnertime a snap for harried families.
They provide all the ingredients and recipes to prepare a fast, fresh meal. They sell for under $20 and are designed to feed a family of four. At $5 or less per person, the dinner kits are an affordable dinner option, less expensive and healthier than eating fast food or dining out, and less than half the price of meal-delivery services like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Plated.
Our Family Dinner Kits eliminate three significant disadvantages of other meal-delivery kits: cost, packaging waste and the need to plan a day or more in advance to order them. The Scramble’s Family Dinner Kits also feature some locally grown and produced ingredients.
Square One Market in Bethlehem will offer the dinner meal solutions for 10 weeks as part of the pilot test. A new meal or two will be offered each week as we survey customers to determine which meals work best and why. The meals include Tortellini with Crisp Turkey Bacon and Peas, Tortilla Pepperoni Pizzas, Shredded Chicken Chili and Black Bean and Corn Soup and other meals that are generally low in fat and include whole grains, vegetables, protein and plenty of fiber.
“The evening hours are when families stress about dinner preparation plans. This evening rush is also the most popular time to buy gasoline. This is a great way to combine two trips into one,” said Jeff Lenard of the National Association of Convenience Stores. Convenience stores sell an estimated 80% of the gasoline purchased in the United States, an estimated 32 million fill-ups every day.
“Our customers are excited to be part of this pilot and look forward to redefining convenience with these meal solutions,” said Square One Markets CEO Lisa Dell’Alba. “It makes so much sense to create this program for drivers already fueling up.”
For the past 12 years, The Six O’Clock Scramble has sought to remove barriers that prevent families from having a healthy, delicious dinner together—be it indecision, exhaustion, or just lack of time. Through our meal planning website and cookbooks, we provide simple, healthy meal plans that can be prepared in less than 30 minutes.
Families that want to cook more meals together but can’t say that the main reasons are busy schedules (43%) and that they are too tired after school or work (31%), according to a new NACS consumer study conducted by Penn Schoen Berland. These dinner kits address both obstacles.
Since the inception of The Scramble in 2003, I’ve observed that one of the biggest impediments to healthy homemade family dinners is the need for families to plan ahead and shop so that they have the ingredients in their kitchens when the 6:00 scramble sets in.
It is my hope that offering healthy, reasonably priced dinner kits at places like convenience stores, where people can easily run in while they pump their gas, will remove one more “scramble” barrier. Then many more families will be able to share healthy family dinners more often and with less stress.