Skip to main content

TF #050: Adding Kid Meals to Your Menu: Pros, Cons, and Key Considerations for Heat-and-Eat Meal Delivery Services

By June 3, 2024The Foodpreneur Newsletter7 min read

The Foodpreneur #050

 

Adding Kid Meals to Your Menu: Pros, Cons, and Key Considerations for Heat-and-Eat Meal Delivery Services 

The heat-and-eat meal delivery industry has surged in popularity, driven by the demand for convenient, nutritious meals that fit into busy lifestyles. As a business owner, you’re no doubt on the lookout for new opportunities to diversify your offerings and attract more customers—and kids meals could be that next step. Whether an add-on to your “adult” or family-style offerings or a standalone subscription option, kid-friendly heat-and-eat meals can be a major value-add to busy parents looking for fresh options they can serve between the endless practices, rehearsals, games, parties, and tutoring sessions filling up their calendars. Here’s what to consider:  

The Pros of Offering Heat-and-Eat Kid Meals 

One of the most significant advantages of introducing kid meals is the potential to expand your customer base. Families are a substantial market segment, and by offering kid-friendly meal options, you can attract parents looking for convenient, nutritious meals for their children. This can lead to increased sales and a more diverse customer base. 

Additionally, providing kid meals can help build customer loyalty. Parents often seek out meal solutions that are both healthy and convenient for their children. By offering high-quality, kid-friendly meals, you can address these needs and create a loyal customer base that appreciates the convenience and nutrition you provide for their entire family. 

Differentiating your service in a crowded market is another potential benefit. Many meal delivery services focus solely on adult meals. Introducing kid meals can set your brand apart as a family-friendly option, appealing to customers looking for a one-stop solution for their family’s meal needs. 

Beyond that, offering meals for children can increase the average order value. Families ordering meals for both adults and children can lead to higher total order amounts, boosting your revenue without necessarily increasing the number of individual orders. 

And, again, considering the go, go, go lifestyles of today’s families, squeezing in health meals can be a challenge—and that can lead to fast food and other less-than-desirable mealtime go-to’s. Heat-and-eat meals are quick and can offer an added health and convenience factor that’s appealing to subscribers. By providing balanced, nutritious heat-and-eat meals, you can attract health-conscious parents who prioritize convenience and nutrition. 

The Cons of Offering Heat-and-Eat Kid Meals 

All of this said, there are several considerations when integrating kids’ meals into your heat-and-eat meal delivery service. Introducing a new product line involves additional operational complexity. You may need to work with new suppliers, develop kid-friendly recipes, and ensure your kitchen staff is trained to prepare these meals properly. This can add layers of planning, sourcing, and logistics to your operations. 

Regulatory and safety considerations are also crucial. Children’s meals must meet specific nutritional guidelines and safety standards. Ensuring compliance with these regulations can add complexity to your operations and may require additional oversight and quality control measures. 

Another potential challenge? The financial piece. Kid meals are often smaller and priced lower than adult meals, which could result in lower profit margins. Careful analysis of your pricing strategy is necessary to ensure that offering kid meals is financially viable. 

There is also the risk of uncertain demand. The demand for kid meals may not meet your expectations, leading to potential losses. Conducting thorough market research and testing before a full rollout is crucial to mitigate this risk. 

Brand perception is another factor to consider. If your brand is primarily known for gourmet or premium adult meals, introducing kid meals could potentially dilute your brand image. Ensuring that the new offerings align with your brand’s overall positioning and values is essential. 

Testing Before Full Rollout 

Testing the market before a full rollout is an indispensable step in determining the feasibility and potential success of offering kid meals. Start with conducting market research to gauge interest among your existing customers. Online surveys, social media polls, or email newsletters can be effective tools to collect feedback. Understanding your customers’ needs and preferences will help tailor your offerings to meet their expectations. 

A pilot program among existing subscribers could also provide invaluable insights. Launch a small-scale pilot program to test demand and gather real-world feedback—offer a limited selection of kid meals to a segment of your customer base and monitor their response, for example. Track sales, customer satisfaction, and any operational challenges that arise during the pilot. Use the insights gained to refine your offerings, adjusting recipes, portion sizes, packaging, and pricing based on customer feedback and operational learnings. 

Analyzing the financial impact is crucial. Assess the costs related to ingredients, production, packaging, and marketing. Ensure that the potential revenue justifies the investment in introducing kid meals. 

Standalone or Add-On? 

If you do decide to move ahead, it’s key to consider whether to offer kids’ meals as a standalone product or an add-on to adult orders depends on several factors. Convenience is a key consideration. Families with young children often prefer convenience. Offering kid meals as an add-on to adult orders allows parents to easily include meals for their children without placing a separate order, enhancing the overall customer experience and increasing the likelihood of repeat business. 

Market positioning also plays a role. If you aim to position your brand as a comprehensive meal solution for families, offering kid meals as a standalone product can highlight your commitment to catering to all age groups. This approach can attract customers specifically searching for kid-friendly meal options. 

Operational efficiency is another factor. Offering kid meals as an add-on can streamline operations, as you can prepare and deliver all meals in a single order. This reduces the complexity of managing separate order streams and can improve efficiency. 

Your pricing strategy should align with your business goals. Add-on kid meals can be priced attractively to encourage upselling, while standalone kid meals can be marketed as premium offerings with unique selling points. 

Additional Considerations 

When introducing kid meals, nutritional quality is paramount. Parents prioritize the nutritional value of their children’s meals. Ensure that your kid meals are balanced, with appropriate portions of protein, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid excessive sugar, salt, and artificial ingredients. 

  • Portion sizes should be suitable for children. Consider offering meals in different age-appropriate portions to cater to varying nutritional needs and appetites. 
  • Appealing packaging can make a significant difference. Kid-friendly packaging with bright colors, fun designs, and easy-to-open containers can make the meals more appealing to children. 
  • Offering a diverse menu is important. Include familiar favorites and healthy options. Consider incorporating seasonal ingredients and rotating menu items to keep the offerings fresh and exciting. 
  • Providing educational content can enhance your offering. Inform parents about the nutritional benefits of your kid meals. Include educational content on your website or in marketing materials to highlight the health advantages of your offerings. 

A targeted marketing strategy is essential. Promote your kid meals through campaigns aimed at parents. Use social media, email newsletters, and partnerships with parenting blogs or influencers to reach your target audience. Highlight the convenience, nutritional quality, and family-friendly nature of your meals. 

Implementing a feedback mechanism can help you continuously improve your offerings. Gather input from parents and children and use this feedback to address any concerns or preferences expressed by your customers. 

Takeaway

Introducing heat-and-eat kid meals can be a strategic move for meal delivery service owners looking to expand their customer base and increase revenue. While there are several benefits, such as attracting families and differentiating your brand, there are also challenges to consider, including operational complexity and regulatory compliance. Testing the market before a full rollout is crucial to ensure the feasibility and success of this new offering. Additionally, deciding whether to offer kid meals as a standalone product or an add-on to adult orders will depend on your business goals, customer preferences, and operational capabilities. 

By carefully planning and executing the introduction of kid meals, you can tap into a growing market segment and provide valuable meal solutions for busy families. With a focus on nutritional quality, appealing packaging, and targeted marketing, you can position your meal delivery service as a trusted and family-friendly brand that meets the needs of parents and children alike. 


Customer Spotlight