These days, there seems to be a meal plan for every diet, dietary restriction, and time commitment out there, delivered to your inbox or straight to your front door (packed up in a refrigerated cooler, that is). But too often, subscribing to meal plans means following them to a T, wasting ingredients when real life gets in the way, and being hit with an onslaught of guilt when you really just want to order delivery. So what’s a busy home cook to do?
A Meal Plan Alternative
To strike a healthy balance between real meals and real life, John Brown Media put our own spin on the then-burgeoning meal plan trend when working on the 2015 redesign of fresh, Hannaford Supermarket’s online and print magazine. Dinner from the Fast Lane, a recipe feature that appears in every issue, is targeted toward busy parents and provides readers with three easy, family-friendly dinner recipes that feed a table of four from the same 14-ingredient-or-less shopping list, leaving the other nights of the week open for winging it, dining out, or ordering in, because, you know, things happen.
Prioritizing Health, Affordability, and Ease
In addition to featuring a wide array of exciting private-label ingredients (which keeps costs down for shoppers while earning them points back on the My Hannaford Rewards program), the recipes adhere to Hannaford’s Guiding Star® nutritional program, keeping sodium, sugar, and saturated fat to a minimum. Every recipe can be prepared in under an hour (or, more often than not, in about 30 minutes), and nearly every ingredient is used in multiple recipes, minimizing food—and money—waste. To avoid redundancy, the recipes are carefully constructed to feel different enough from one another, leaning on bright in-season produce, unique spice blends, and healthy, lean meats to keep things interesting: It’s not unusual to find a trio of dishes like Spinach and Cheese Ravioli with Turkey Bolognese, Italian Turkey Meatloaves with Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, and a Potato and Pea Frittata.
Moving Beyond the Magazine
Dinner from the Fast Lane exists in the digital realm as well, with videos and GIFs that are broadcast across Hannaford’s social media channels. The concept has resonated so much with readers that the grocer recently added branded coolers to a number of stores, putting the ingredients from the shopping list—plus handy recipe cards—in one place. A solution for those who don’t want to be held hostage by a meal plan, Dinner from the Fast Lane makes it easy for shoppers to tackle from-scratch, affordable weeknight dinners—three meals at a time.