The use of individually quick frozen ingredients (IQF) in stir-fried meals is well known, claims Nestec, the R&D arm of Swiss food manufacturing colossus Nestlé, in the background to its latest patented invention, which relates to "a plated frozen meal and to a method for preparing same". Reheating these meals can be onerous if different components require different lengths of time under heat, which means the consumer needs to stay in the kitchen and remain actively involved in the preparation of what should be convenient food.

Nestec aims to get around this by producing a plated concept where the thawing of one of more ingredients facilitates the thawing or heating of the rest, thus minimising effort on the part of the consumer.


Company Profile:

Nestle


Protected under US patent number 6,251,447, the abstract reads:

The invention relates to a plated frozen meal comprising a plate, a first group of individually frozen predominantly meat-based ingredients positioned on the plate, a second group of individually frozen predominantly carbohydrate-based or predominantly vegetable-based ingredients positioned on the plate, and at least one pellet of frozen sauce. The at least one pellet of frozen sauce is positioned such that when it thaws it facilitates the thawing or heating of at least one of the first or second groups of ingredients. This invention is also directed to a method of increasing the rate of thawing or heating of a frozen plated meal.

The first claim (of 12) is for:

A plated frozen meal intended to be heated in a microwave oven comprising:

  • a plate adapted to allow the passage of microwaves there through;
  • a first group of individually frozen predominantly meat-based ingredients positioned on the plate;
  • a second group of individually frozen ingredients selected from the group consisting of carbohydrate-based and vegetable-based ingredients positioned on the plate; and
  • frozen sauce pellets having a water content of between about 75% and 98% by weight of each pellet; wherein the frozen sauce pellets are positioned in layers both above and beneath the first group of individually frozen ingredients in a manner effective to provide a surface of contact of the pellets with said first group of individually frozen ingredients to reduce time for microwave thawing of said first group of individually frozen ingredients and also to even the heating of the ingredients of the meal, and wherein the positions of the first group of ingredients and the second group of ingredients each remain substantially the same upon thawing of the meal and without stirring being necessary before consumption.

To see full details of the patent, please click here.

To read a just-food.com feature on meal solutions, click here.


To view related research reports, please follow the links below:-

Frozen Food: The International Market

Frozen Foods