What You Never Knew About Freezer Meals: A Short History

Freezer meals are most commonly thought of as the prepackaged, not so great tasting TV dinners that you microwave in a few minutes for a quick meal. But where did they come from and how have they evolved?

Believe it or not, "TV Dinner" was actually a brand name created in the 1950's. Like today's TV dinners, those lovable prepackaged frozen treats were meant to be a quick fix for a person short on time that could use the convenience of a prepackaged meal ready to cook.

The major difference between the prepackaged freezer meals of the 1950's and today is that the serving trays were typically made from metal. These were quite similar to the meals commonly served in-flight onboard passenger airplanes.

Initially, the trays contained a simple meal: one of turkey, cornbread, peas, and sweet potatoes. It was designed as a Thanksgiving Day quick fix. In addition to have the food already prepared for you, another major convenience was that the entire tray could be placed directly into the oven and, once cooked, the meal eaten directly from that same tray. Cleanup consisted of tossing the tray in the garbage, saving one the task of doing the dishes as well.

It was expected that about 5,000 of these pre-packed dinners would be sold the first year. The busy lifestyle of the American family was severely under estimated however, as over 10 million units ended up being sold during the introductory year of the TV dinner.

Evolution of the TV Dinner

"TV Dinner" quickly became synonymous with any prepackaged meal of similar design. By 1960, a dessert was added. By the end of the 1960's, the TV breakfast had been born. The mid 70's saw the addition of larger portioned freezer meals for the heartier appetite.

By the mid 80's, the popularity of the microwave brought the convenience of freezer meals to a whole new level. Instead of waiting several minutes for a conventional oven to preheat, then 25 minutes more for your meal to cook, microwave TV dinners could go from freezer to served in less than a third of the time.

Today, however, concerns over nutrition have brought about the home-prepared freezer meal. A growing trend is to prepare the meals in the home in bulk, then freeze them for future use.

While the convenience factor is lessened because one must prepare the food themselves, it is something that only needs to be done once a month or so. The extra time required is a trade off for having the freedom of preparing one's own freezer meals and including whatever they would like and having it prepared however they choose.

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About The Author, Art Gib
Red Timer Inc. (http://www.30mealsinoneday.com) offers recipes, cookbooks, and more for home-prepared freezer meals. Art Gib is a freelance writer.