Packaged Food

Stouffer’s Releases New Lasagna Bites

As delicious as lasagna can be, sometimes it’s a bit cumbersome when you have to slice it out into squares and sit down to eat it with a fork. Not knocking on a classic by all means, but a mouth popping, finger food variation could be a welcome convenience when you’re working on your Animal Crossing Island.

Luckily, Stouffer’s just released a new entry to the frozen food aisle in the form of these savory Classic Lasagna Bites.

The new snack features a medley of meat sauce, noodles, mozzarella cheese, and Italian-style herbs packed into a crispy bite-sized breading.

Stouffer’s is also launching Chicken Pot Pie Bites and Bacon White Cheddar Mac Bites in parallel with the Lasagna.

Expect to see these new frozen Stouffer’s bites in the frozen food aisles at major market retailers nationwide in July.

Grocery Packaged Food

Trader Joe’s Adds New Savory Kung Pao Chicken Mochi Balls

Photo: Constantine Spyrou

Looks like Trader Joe’s is adding more savory options to their frozen mochi selection, as their newest item is definitely prepped to turn some heads. Trader Joe’s has just released a new Kung Pao Chicken Mochi Ball snack to their frozen food section.

The Kung Pao Mochi Balls are approximately the size of a golf ball and, when baked, has a crisp brown exterior. That exterior is followed by a soft chewy mochi texture that leads into the final level of a sweet and spicy chicken and veggie core.

Trader Joe’s says that they were inspired to make this new item after trying a savory mochi appetizer at an udon bar on a trip to Tokyo.

You can find these new frozen appetizers at Trader Joe’s locations nationwide in the freezer section of the store. I wonder how these will taste with TJ’s Chili Onion Crunch?

Packaged Food

Uncrustables Launches Costco-Like Sandwich Roll-Ups

Last week, we discovered that Smucker’s Uncrustables created a Taco Sandwich that could be found in the frozen food aisles of Target. A bit of a venture from their traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but we have to commend them for shooting their shot. Turns out it doesn’t just stop at tacos.

Smucker’s just unveiled a line of new roll-up sandwiches that have launched in the Target frozen foods section.

For those of you unfamiliar with roll-ups (also known as rollers, roll-ems, or pinwheels), they’re sandwiches rolled together via tortillas or flat breads. You can mostly see the at the Costco deli section where they’re sold in massive platters.

The two new flavors are Turkey & Colby Jack and Uncured Ham & Cheddar.

Each new flavor of Uncrustables feature meat and cheese seasoned and rolled together in flat bread. Pretty simple, but sounds quite tasty nonetheless.

Each box contains three packages of four roll-ups. All you have to do is thaw them out for a bit and they’re ready to eat. You can find these boxes now at all participating Target locations nationwide.

Packaged Food

Uncrustables Makes Taco Sandwiches Now, Here’s What It Tastes Like

Not too long ago, my wife and I stocked up on a ton of Uncrustables Chocolate-flavored Hazelnut Spread to last us a few months while we worked remotely. Since she’s allergic to peanuts, this was the only form of Uncrustables she could finally try. Turns out the Smucker’s brand goes much further beyond PB&J crustless sandwiches.

Foodbeast Costa spotted a variety of different savory offerings that Uncrustables appears to recently have dropped at Target. One of which was something called Taco Bites.

As you can see from the packaging, it includes beef crumble, cheese, salsa, and taco seasoning encased in a crust-less vessel of bread.

Here’s what Costa had to say about the new item, after picking up a pack for himself:

“So the Uncrustables come in packs of two, each one is about the size of a Hawaiian roll or a White Castle slider,” he said. “They microwave in 40 seconds. They’re not super super cheesy and not super spicy either, more of a savory taco meat bite. Pretty easy quick snack to heat up, but also looks very different to what you’d expect when you hear the word ‘Uncrustables’ which, to me, is a large bread pocket of PB & J.”

Each box comes with three packs of two Taco Bites, six in total. You can find them at participating Target locations.

“I could eat those, but I don’t think I’d want to,” my wife tells me, after showing this to her. I mean, give it a shot babe. Costa did.

Grocery Packaged Food What's New

This Startup’s Spin On Uncrustables Packs Them With Savory Fillings

Uncrustables have been a lunchbox staple for decades now. The pocket of bread dough, crammed with peanut butter and jelly, has become one of those favorites that you can find at everywhere from schools to county fairs. It’s simple, nostalgic, and crave-able all at once.

Despite the success the Uncrustables has had, you’ve never really seen another version similar to it with other fillings before. That’s all changed in the past year, thanks to a new frozen food startup that’s doing their own savory take on the crustless stuffed sandwich.

Called Jafflz, the product line comes from the mind of Chef Meryl van der Merwe. Her take on the round sandwich-toaster pastry hybrid comes packed with savory fillings like Sloppy Joe, Enchilada, or even Mac & Cheese. They’re based on jaffles, which is a common phrase in Australia or van der Merwe’s native South Africa for toasted sandwiches.

Each sandwich is pretty hefty, and like an Uncrustables, is enough for a meal or large snack. They also come with a heating sleeve inside each package, similar to how Hot Pockets and similar brands have one to ensure the outer bread stays crispy.

The key difference here between Jafflz and Uncrustables is that you’re getting savory aromas and tastes from what’s inside, making it ideal for those who want to relive the nostalgia of Uncrustables, but perhaps want something a little bit less on the sweet side.

Jafflz can currently be found in the freezer aisles of nearly 500 stores nationwide, many of them under the Kroger name (ie. Ralphs, Smith’s, and Fry’s). They’ll be heading to more grocers in the coming year.

Grocery Opinion Packaged Food

Frozen Food Is Shedding Its Reputation With Chef-Driven, Healthier Meals

“Frozen food is on fire.”

Photo: Mikey’s Pizza Pockets

These words from Sam Rockwell, CEO of frozen food brands Happi Foodi and WaffleWaffle, couldn’t be more true right now. While the freezer aisle of grocery stores has had a reputation of being processed and unhealthy, that image has slowly melted away. The numbers back it up, too: Data from Nielsen reveals that in 2018, dollar sales in the frozen foods industry jumped up 2.2%. That’s some of the best growth the industry has seen in the past five years. What is it, though, that’s causing consumers to come back to frozen food?

A lot of varying factors are at play here, but one of the big-picture keys appears to be that retailers are turning to frozen for growth. Companies like Amazon are dominating the food and fresh delivery space, but sending frozen food via mail in a similar fashion is still a struggle. Retailers like Walmart benefit from this, and are able to be that hub for consumers who are looking for different frozen foods.

To capitalize on that effect, though, big retailers have to ensure that their products are on trend. While larger food companies can take 3-5 years to innovate, according to Rockwell, a smaller firm can do the same thing in a fraction of the time. As a result, a lot of younger startups, including brands like Happi Foodi, are finding an increasing demand for their products on a national scale.

Photo courtesy of Happi Foodi

Happi Foodi has found success in its chef-driven meals and snacks that are best described as “frozen gourmet.” Items like Cuban Style Egg Rolls, Tequila Lime Chicken, and Whiskey Sauce Meatballs appeal to customers who see it as a way to break past the entry barriers they perceive exist to becoming a foodie. Many “foodie destinations,” places like Los Angeles, Chicago or New York City, seem far away to the rest of the country, and the fantastical foods that pop up on Instagram from there are dishes many can only dream of tasting. Frozen food helps makes those dreams reality because of the ease of storage, natural preservation of flavors, and ability to access from just about anywhere.

The frozen food industry can now take on this “foodie” appeal because brands like Happi Foodi are backed by chefs who have moved into the food industry. These chefs, or “culinologists,” as some call themselves, are changing how the industry thinks about everything from flavor to texture in our foods. The quality of frozen protein and the consistency, and taste of sauces has improved drastically as a result, rebuilding trust in the frozen food brands that deliver on all of these senses.

Recapturing public sentiment in the frozen food aisle has allowed the industry become creative and diverse. Everything from plant-based frozen dinners to microwavable burritos that swap out the cheap eggs and cheese for sweet potatoes and Forbidden Rice can now be found in that part of the grocery store. As we all crave and desire more ethnic flavors, especially those we aren’t as familiar with, frozen food producers are making those accessible to us.

Photo courtesy of Swapples

Freezing food, especially at the below-zero temperatures the industry uses, allows you to capture the freshness of that moment right after a chef plates their crafted meal and keep the dish there for a period of months. That long shelf life allows you to make higher quality meals that last longer, as well as tailor them to any lifestyle, whether it be Whole 30, Paleo, or allergen-free.

This is where companies like Swapples do best. A frozen yuca waffle maker, Swapples cuts almost entirely all sugar out of its batter while adhering to a plant-based and allergen-friendly diet. Founded in 2016, co-founder Rebecca Peress has seen her brand explode across the United States, and the health and better-for-you aspects of her waffles play a huge role in that.

“There’s way more to choose from now in the frozen section than there was 10,15 years ago,” Peress said. “You can find a natural version of almost everything. I think that’s where we’re at now. I think the next phase, which is where [Swapples] already is, is taking a look at the ingredients.”

Peress is talking about the clean label trend that has taken over the processed foods industry. Companies and fast food brands today are looking to remove preservatives, colors, and flavors out of food to meet consumer demands. Frozen food can do it a lot quicker and easier because their key preservative is temperature, rather than an ingredient like sugar or salt. It means that reformulation of healthier foods, is a lot simpler to pull off. That’s why you see everything from paleo pizza pockets to ice cream that helps you sleep better at night sweeping across stores nationwide.

Photo courtesy of Happi Foodi

Another key reason why frozen food is performing is the nostalgia factor. We all grew up on Eggo Waffles, frozen sausages, Hungry-Man dinners, and other products we could pick up quickly in the freezer aisle. In an era where everything has gone gourmet, there’s often a longing for the tried and true classics. Of course, the health awareness around these today has changed drastically, so we know to look for that taste of our youth balanced with the nutritional needs we’re looking for. Thus, we’re not just demanding that the food industry giants satisfy those needs — we’re creating the companies that meet them as well, whether it be Swapples, Happi Foodi or someone else in between.

Frozen food, in turn, has now become something that satisfies all of the trends we’re searching and makes them more accessible to everyone. As companies continue to innovate and grow, they’re bringing more nutritious, more creative, and more clean-label alternatives to the freezer aisle. That has drastically changed the industry for the better, allowing it to shed its reputation of heavily processed products that are bad for you. With all of that change and resulting demand, we’ll all be adding more and more frozen foods to our shopping bags as the category continues to skyrocket.

Packaged Food Sweets

Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough Is Now In Bite-Sized Snack Form

Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough is a favorite among fans, being found in several of their ice cream products. Well, now you can skip the ice cream altogether and just eat the dough on its own.

Ben & Jerry’s has announced the release of its new frozen Cookie Dough Chunks, that can be snacked on in bite-sized form.

“Fans have been asking for ‘just the chunks’ for a while now,” Ben & Jerry’s innovative manager  Jody Eley said. “During a short market test in Vermont last summer, fans snatched up the dough in record time.”

The cookie dough snacks will come in three different flavors: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

Fans of Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy options will get a familiar taste, as the cookie dough is the same that is used in the vegan ice cream pint options.

The bags come in half pound sizes, and needless to say, they are safe to eat raw.

We had a chance to try them in the office and nothing but thumbs up on our end. It’s hard to argue against B&J’s cookie dough, in any form.

Packaged Food

Trader Joe’s Just Made French Onion Soup In Handheld Form

Photo courtesy of Trader Joe’s

Despite my sensitivity to lactose, I can’t pass up on a solid bowl of French onion soup. The marriage of caramelized onions, savory stock, and stringy, crispy cheese have joined together to warm my bones on more than one cold occasion.

For those who can’t get enough of French Onion Soup but lack the time needed to dote over a pot of onions for four hours, Trader Joe’s has released a variation that’s a bit easier to prep.

Their new French Onion Soup Bites with Caramelized Onions & Swiss Cheese is a mouthful in more ways than just its name. The new frozen appetizer is made with a doughy wrapper that’s stuffed with caramelized onions and Swiss cheese, and seasoned with a vegetable broth base.

You’re essentially biting into French Onion soup, just minus the mess, and I’m completely down with that. Anything to satiate those soup cravings.

Guests can find these bites in the frozen foods aisle at your local Trader Joe’s in 8.46-ounce boxes for $4.49.