An unrecognizable female mid-adult person and family mother buying food at the supermarket, looking at food choosing what to buy. Photo from behind.

Both convenience and safe, sustainable packaging are top of mind for food shoppers, according to the new Ready-to-Eat Report from good natured.

Since the beginning of the year, 72% of the 1,000 American adults surveyed for the report said they’ve been regularly buying or increasing their consumption of ready-to-eat meals, meal kits, and takeout food and delivery. Seven in 10 cited convenience as the top reason for buying such meals at grocery stores, followed by time savings (40%) and cost savings (21%).

Reducing time spent on meal prep and cooking frees up time for family and fun activities and is the reason nearly 70% of consumers chose convenient meal options. More than half of respondents said they’re purchasing hot and cold ready-to-eat meals at the grocery store so they can have meals for one and have easy side dishes for home cooked meals.

But packaging plays a significant role in the foods they buy. Food freshness was the most important consideration for 73% of respondents when buying food from stores and restaurants, and 86% said being able to see through the packaging to determine what the product looks like would make them more likely to buy it. 

Most consumers (77%) also said they consider sustainable packaging important, and more than 40% felt it was the company’s responsibility for offering eco-friendly food packaging for their products. However, there’s some confusion about how to recycle or dispose of food packaging, and about 1 in 3 respondents who want to dispose or recycle packaging correctly aren’t sure how to do so.

For more insights, see the full Ready-to-Eat report

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