Lean Cuisine is a part of Stouffer’s Corporation, which dates back to the 1920s. Stouffer’s launched their frozen foods division in 1954, and Stouffer’s was bought by Nestle in 1973. Lean Cuisine was launched as part of Stouffer’s in 1981, as a low fat, low calorie version of Stouffer’s products. It began with ten items and has since expanded to well over 100 different meals. During the 1980s and 1990s, Lean Cuisine grew to become one of Nestlé’s largest brands in the United States, as its low-fat and low-calorie dining options helped it to gain popularity. In 2003 and 2004, sales suffered due to the increase in popularity of low-carbohydrate diet plans. In reaction to this trend, Lean Cuisine launched a new line of reduced carbohydrate entrées, and its sales have been growing as low-carbohydrate dieting has become less common. Lean Cuisine items are calorie-controlled, and most of the meals range from 200 to 300 calories a piece. The lowest amount of calories found in a meal is 140, and the highest amount is 400. The FDA considers the brand name “Lean Cuisine” as a claim of nutrient content, so all of their menu items are required to meet a criteria of less than 10 grams of fat, less than 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol. Some controversy has come up regarding the suggested high amounts of sodium found in Lean Cuisine products, but none of the meals exceed the sodium limits that were established by the FDA.
Lean Cuisine offers eight unique recipe creations, all of which feature a variety of different meals.
As the newest Lean Cuisine collection, Market Creations offers steamed meats, vegetables, and pastas that taste so delicious, consumers will find it hard to believe that the ingredients were ever frozen. Market Creations come in eight different and exciting varieties, including:
Asiago Cheese Tortelloni
Shanghai Style Shrimp
Sweet and Spicy Ginger Chicken
These meals are perfect for people on the go or for any casual dining experience. Premium meats, vegetables, and cheeses are used to create this collection of flat breads, pizzas, and toasted Panini. Some examples of what customers can choose from with this collection include the following:
Bacon Alfredo Pizza Wood Fire Style
Chicken Ranch Club Flatbread Melt
Southwest style Chicken Panini
BBQ Recipe Chicken Pizza
This collection helps the health-conscious diner get more fiber in their diet, with 5-6 grams in every meal. No preservatives or artificial flavors are used in these recipes, and of the 16 creations, diners can choose from some of the following meals:
Chicken in Peanut Sauce
Apple Cranberry Chicken
Butternut Squash Ravioli
These dishes are restaurant inspired and feature gourmet ingredients and sauces. There are 27 meals in this collection, some of which include:
Chicken with Almonds
Beef Chow Fun
Honey Dijon Grilled Chicken
Parmesan Crusted Fish
Recipes found in this collection give diners low-calorie options for when those cravings for home-style classics come. Options include the following:
Beef Pot Roast
Meatloaf and Whipped Potatoes
Chicken with Lasagna Rollatini
This collection offers a way for shoppers to indulge in classic dishes at any time of the day. Foods with influences from all over the world, including Italian, Mexican, and Chinese are also included. Diners can try:
Baja Style Chicken Quesadilla
Pasta Romano with Bacon
Vegetable Egg Rolls
Pepperoni French Bread Pizza
These options are better suited for dinner meals, as they contain more food with larger portions. Even with the larger size, all of the meals are still less than 400 calories. Of the 12 options, diners can chose from the following:
Orange Peel Chicken
Roasted Turkey Breast
Lemon Garlic Shrimp
Because people want to eat healthy and have low-calorie options for the morning too, Lean Cuisine developed a breakfast menu. Currently there are two options, the Denver Style Breakfast Panini or the Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Panini.
Lean Cuisine offers coupons through direct mailing programs, via email to registered Lean Cuisine members, and in local papers. If diners are interested in receiving coupons and promotional information on a regular basis, they can register to become a member on the Lean Cuisine website (www.leancuisine.com). Friends of their Facebook page are also sometimes offered coupons or discounts on products, and this page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/LeanCuisine. Most of the coupons are for one dollar off of a particular Lean Cuisine product. They do not, however, have a spot on their website for deals or coupons like other retailers might include. Searching for coupons, online, may have mixed results. Sometimes leading stores like Target will advertise promotions on their website that can include coupons for discounts on products, such as Lean Cuisine. Websites like Specialoffers.com will list printable grocery coupons for shoppers to look through, and they can use the search function to find offers on Lean Cuisine products. Shoppers want to be careful on which sites to use, as some may offer a fee in order to access the coupons or subscribe to a club that will periodically send out coupons. Consumers can get the same types of discounts for free by simply registering on the Lean Cuisine website or by continuing to check their local newspapers for upcoming bargains.
Lean Cuisine and Weight Loss
Lean Cuisine products are portion-controlled, so they make a terrific addition to any weight loss program. The key to losing weight is to control the number of calories consumed throughout the day while adding physical activity and exercise to the daily routine. The number of calories and Weight Watchers points in each meal is marked clearly on the front of each box so that consumers can easily make the best food decisions available.
Lean Cuisine’s website also offers a variety of tools to help customers with their weight loss goals. The site includes a list of Weight Watcher Winning Points so that dieters using that the system can track how many points they are consuming with each meal. There is a function for dieters to track their meals for the week, and people trying to lose weight can also track their fitness progress and ask a nutritionist questions. All of these features are meant to keep dieters on track to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and to reach their weight loss goals.
Lean Cuisine has many competitors in the business of “healthy” frozen foods, many of which are also distributed through leading grocery retailers and discount stores. One of the major competitors of Lean Cuisine is ConAgra Foods’ Healthy Choice, which is also required to meet certain healthy criteria by the FDA. H.J. Heniz Company produces Smart ones, and Kraft Foods produces South Beach Diet. Safeway’s Eating Right is also a store brand competitor of Lean Cuisine.