It all started when I did a favour for a friend. 

Tammy Yzerman, asked me today to give her a list of Schinkels’ made fresh in store, ready to heat meals.

She is a registered personal support worker here in Essex County,
and was thinking that our made fresh in store meals would be great for some of her clients.

Which they most certainly are.

So, I gave her the names of my favourites, but then,
I thought to myself that I must be missing some, so I swung by the store
after picking up my beloved toddler at the daycare, and started making a list.

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Hokey doodle.

(yes, that’s as exclamative as I can get with little ears all around me all the time)

I had no idea we had so many choices.
It’s pretty overwhelming when one opens the freezer doors and one sees
a wall of delicious choices.
Considering they all represent a clean kitchen, and an after-school
or after-work lack of tedious meal prep by tired humans,
I’m surprised that we don’t have customers lined up to buy them.

Why don’t they? 

Could it be that our customers are just set in their fresh meat and deli ways.

Could it be that our customers just don’t know we have
“Made Fresh in Store, Ready to Heat Meals” right there in the
cooler and freezer by the checkout.

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Could it be that our customers didn’t realize that
not only our meals are made fresh in the store,
using fresh ingredients by the staff who so cheerfully serve at the counters,
but they are a better value than what is offered elsewhere.

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Sneaky advertising

I’ve discovered that some stores are really sneaky when
it comes to packaging and pricing.
They advertise a box priced by the “piece” or by the “package”, rather than a weight.
So it’s hard to compare, for example, Schinkels’ chicken nuggets that are $5.99/lb,
to their product, as they might be advertised elsewhere at $4.99 for 10 pieces.

 Luckily, Canadian marketing laws do insist that a weight is on the box,
so I investigated and did the math and worked out  prices that can be compared.
Unfortunately, Schinkels’ prices are still pounds,
since that’s what our customers keep ordering in,
and most other stores are in kilograms,
probably because they don’t listen to their customers,
but I did that math for you, too.

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Now, I don’t want to get into any trouble doing this,
so I’m not going to mention where I priced out and compared products from two other stores.
But, I wasn’t very creative and just chose the two places
I think most people would think to go get quality freezer meals.

Quality, people, not lunchables or TV Dinner style.

The kind you would leave in a freezer for a parent,
or give to a friend in need,
or serve up to you and yours as a family meal.

The kind you might pass off as your own in a pinch.

Now, of course, I didn’t see any store or brand that advertised that they were made fresh in store,
using fresh ingredients, but, obviously, buying from a smaller,
family run local store will just naturally have some advantages that can’t be compared.

First, I checked the lasagna prices.

One store had a 320g package for $3.78. That worked out to being $5.40/lb
Another store had a 907g (that’s 2lb) lasagna for $9.99, which is about $4.99/lb

Schinkels’ regular price on lasagna is $4.49 for a 1 lb, and $8.49 for a 2 lb container.

We win.

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Moving on to Shepherd’s Pie

First store was $9.99 for 2 lb and
second store was $11.99 for 900 g (almost 2 lb) which worked to $5.99/lb

Schinkels’ 1lb Shepherd’s Pie was $4.49 and the 2 lb package was $8.49.
For a larger family, the 4 lb Shepherd’s Pie was an even better price at only $15.99

We win again.

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Meat Loaf

Only one of the two stores I looked at even had a meatloaf that wasn’t the
TV Dinner style (the kind served with “potato” and corn).
It’s price was $10.99 / 1.32lb (600g) which worked out to $8.33/lb

Schinkels’ was significantly less pricey at $9.99 for 2lb, or $5.49 for 1lb.

And, it’s another win.

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Pizza.

Now that one’s a harder one to compare.
When you consider crust thickness, and quality ingredients,
and how much cheese is involved (or not involved with some brands)
it can be difficult to decide how they measure up.
But I looked at what I felt were comparable products,
based on the pictures on the boxes,
and my experience being served some of these in the past.

One store’s Deluxe Pizza was pepperoni, sausage, peppers and onions and cost $5.49 each.
Problem was, though, it was only a 10 inch pie.
It claimed it was “big enough to feed the family”.

Snort!

They obviously haven’t met a family with a teenager.
Let alone 3 of them.
And a handsome husband who works hard all day.
And a bunch of smaller humans who run around all day.
Ok, so obviously, they aren’t advertizing to my family,
’cause we would need 5 of them.
But, I digress.
Schinkels’ Deluxe Pizza has pepperoni, ham, bacon and green peppers.
It’s a 12 inch pizza.
And I know from experience, it takes 3 to feed my 9,
with a few pieces left over for the teenagers to eat later in the evening.
It’s hearty stuff, and loaded.
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So I had to draw on my ancient math skills and did some more complex math.
Their pizza worked out to 14.30¢/ square inch. Ours worked out to 14.14¢/ square inch.
I was thinking about working out the ratio of crust to not-crust
(since we have 4 kids and a husband who leave crusts to the side of their plate),
but that was getting ridiculous, even for me.
Win again, even without the crust-to-not-crust ratio.
And the other places didn’t have BBQ Chicken Pizza, so that was an automatic win, as well.
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After that, I started having a harder time working out fair comparisons.

I mean, they had Tourtiere Meat Pies, but even the pictures on their boxes,
which everyone knows don’t always represent reality,
made their pies look like mostly crust, and very thin in the middle.
Schinkels’ Tourtiere Pies are just way more meat filling than crust.
Not sure about you, but when I buy a meat pie,
I kinda want more meat than crust to be the standard, don’t you?
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Do you see how the pie is convex instead of concave?
(The top crust puffs out instead of being flat or even
sinking in like some of the pies I looked at.)

No Contest

 We won on price/lb on the
Pulled Pork, Cabbage Rolls,
Alfredo, Mac & Cheese, Creamy Chicken Lasagna,
and Country Pot Pie.
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Every single meal that I compared, we won. It was almost getting to be anti-climatic.

Small Problem 

But, then, I ran into a problem with my comparison shopping.
I couldn’t find many of our meals at the other stores.
Chicken Divan. Nope.
Pizza Casserole. Nope.
Meatball Pasta Melt. Nope.
Pork Goulash. Nope.
Tomato Pasta Parmesan. Nope.
Hashbrown Casserole. Nope.
Beef Stroganoff. Nope.
German Potatoes. Nope.
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I believe I did not realize how blessed and spoiled I’ve been.
I’ve just taken the meals at Schinkels’ for granted.
I had no idea how difficult it must be for average consumers to find
quality, affordable, easy meals that were made with fresh ingredients
if they don’t shop at Schinkels’.
I think it’s time, as a public service, to start promoting our “Made Fresh” meals more, don’t you?
Feel free to share this post if you want to do your part.