Put The Heatlamp Away, 7-Eleven Ups Their Food Game

Company's pilot program seeks to reinvent stores into a neighborhood fast-casual dining destination.

As more Americans turn to at-home recipe kits and restaurants’ prepared foods to go, 7-Eleven, Inc. is turning up the heat on its prepared-food program with 15 new locally made, chef-inspired, heat-and-eat meals. These convenient restaurant-quality meal solutions were created with inspiration from Italian, homestyle, Asian, and Mexican recipes.

Image: 7-Eleven

Prepared in local kitchens and delivered daily to participating 7-Eleven stores in select markets, these on-the-go options for breakfast, lunch and dinner will be available in the refrigerated case beginning Sept. 11. Meals can be heated at the store for immediate consumption or taken to-go. Suggested retail price ranges from $3.99 to $4.99.

“With these chef-inspired entrees, 7-Eleven can provide busy individuals and families with a delicious, premium-quality, whole-meal solution in one stop,” said Kelly Buckley, 7-Eleven vice president of fresh food innovation. “You can add a salad, beverage and dessert. The creamy mac and cheese is particularly kid-friendly and pairs well with chicken tenders and a cup of fresh-cut fruit. We want to take the hassle out of meal time with a variety of options and without giving up quality. There is something for everyone.”

Image: 7-Eleven

When developing new recipes for its fresh-foods menu, 7-Eleven benchmarks the ingredients and flavor profiles against restaurant-quality offerings. The new entrees and bowls are prepared in local kitchens using premium-quality ingredients and delivered daily to stores.

According to an NPD Study, almost two-thirds of consumers surveyed said they buy premade meals at least once a week. That’s the same number of people who say they plan dinner within an hour of eating. 7?Eleven offers a convenient solution to that dilemma. The locally made meals add to 7-Eleven’s growing prepared-food offerings, which now stand at more than 300 items.

In addition to the locally made meals, 7-Eleven stores’ growing menu includes grab-and-go cheeseburgers and breaded-chicken sandwiches, pizza slices and whole pizzas, chicken tenders and wings. Hungry customers can create a high-quality, custom meal of their favorite foods by adding fresh-cut fruit, chip-and-dip combos, salads and hundreds of beverage choices rather than settling for the cookie-cutter fries-and-drink combo offered by most fast-food restaurants.

“Dining occasions are evolving from traditional meals and mealtimes,” Buckley said. “Younger demographic groups, in particular, are constantly snacking throughout the day vs. eating three traditional meals. As a 24-hour operator, 7-Eleven has a wide variety of hot and fresh foods that can be purchased and eaten any time.”

Buckley and the 7-Eleven fresh-food-innovation team has responded to these changes with a menu that appeals to round-the-clock dining needs. In addition to great taste, high quality and value, special emphasis is put on portability, as well as fresh and healthy options.

“7-Eleven has always been a hot spot for snacks and drinks,” Buckley said. “Now, whatever you’re craving for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack, 7-Eleven has it. If someone wants a breakfast bowl for dinner, we’ve got it. If you want pizza and fruit or a burger and a protein snack pack, you don’t have to go to two places to get it. Hearty, healthy, heavy or light – our mission is to have a selection of delicious foods at all hours of the day.”

Here is what’s new on the 7-Eleven menu (selections and prices may vary by store):

Italian: Chicken Parmesan – Signature breaded chicken filet on a bed of penne pasta, topped with California marinara and aged Parmesan cheese. Creamy Chicken Alfredo – Grilled white meat chicken, with creamy Alfredo sauce and parmesan cheese served over penne pasta. Cheesy Tortellini – Four-cheese tortellini topped with creamy Alfredo sauce and aged parmesan cheese. Cheese Lasagna with Meat Sauce – Hand-rolled pasta filled with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, traditional Italian-style meat sauce and a blend of Italian-style cheeses. Spaghetti Bolognese – Spaghetti noodles topped with an authentic Italian-style seasoned meat sauce and shredded parmesan cheese.

Homestyle: Macaroni and Cheese – Cavatappi noodles coated in a blend of five cream cheeses and topped with cheddar cheese and seasoned breadcrumbs. Homestyle Turkey Chili – Homestyle chili made from ground turkey, black beans, ripe tomatoes, red bell peppers, onions and celery in an ancho chile pepper puree.

Asian: Asian-style Beef and Broccoli Bowl – Premium steak cuts on a bed of long grain white rice, served with broccoli, roasted red peppers and a teriyaki glaze.

Mexican: Beef Enchiladas with Rice – Traditional hand-rolled enchiladas, filled with slow-simmered crumbled beef, smothered in a rich pasilla guajillo pepper sauce and topped with a blend of Mexican cheeses. Chipotle Chicken Bowl – Shredded chicken seasoned with crushed tomatoes and onions, served with rice, vegetables and ranchero beans, and topped with cheddar cheese. Deluxe Verde Chicken Enchiladas with Rice – Hand-rolled enchiladas, stuffed with poblano pepper-seasoned shredded chicken, covered with spicy tomatillo sauce and finished with authentic queso fresco cheese.

Breakfast Bowls: Chipotle Steak and Egg Bowl – Roasted potatoes topped with poblano queso sauce, scrambled eggs, chipotle-seasoned beef, fire-roasted peppers and onions, and shredded cheddar cheese. Mile High Breakfast Bowl – Roasted potatoes topped with poblano queso sauce, scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage crumble, diced ham, fire-roasted peppers and onions, and shredded cheddar cheese. Early Riser Scrambler Bowl – Rice topped with turkey chili, scrambled eggs, shredded cheddar cheese and pico de gallo.

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