Instacart's 'Ready Meals' are a grocery store alternative to take out

In case you prefer to order ready-to-eat dishes from a grocery store instead of a restaurant.

Instacart Ready Meals Hub (Instacart)

After partnering with a number of big chains to help speed up grocery delivery back in 2021, today Instacart is launching Ready Meals so you can now order hot and pre-made meals from local grocers too.

For Instacart, the play is rather straightforward as the company looks to position its Ready Meal Hub as an alternative to more traditional food delivery apps like Seamless, Uber Eats and the like. The only real difference is that instead of ordering food from local restaurants, Instacart is hoping its customers will use Ready Meals to order fresh food like sandwiches, sushi and more from nearby grocery stores, in addition to pre-prepared, ready-to-heat dishes such as take-and-bake casseroles.

Just like regular grocery orders, Instacart says its Ready Meals Hub will be available nationwide, with deliveries arriving at your door in as little as 30 minutes. Instacart is partnering with grocers including Publix, GIANT, Food Lion, Hannaford, Stop & Shop, Martin’s, and Kroger, with plans to add more retailers such as ShopRite in the coming months.

The arrival of the Ready Meals Hub in the Instacart app follows the addition of the Convenience Hub last fall, which added the ability to order a range of pantry staples, snacks, and even alcohol from big-name stores like 7-Eleven and others. Another benefit of the new Ready Meals Hub is that because pre-prepared foods can be ordered alongside regular groceries, Instacart is making it easier to order food for a variety of meals or situations with a single purchase.

The expansion of Instacart's delivery options serves to further reinforce the increasing popularity of home grocery delivery. According to a recent report from the Food Industry Association (FMI), while most meals in the U.S. are still prepared at home, 55% percent of shoppers noted a desire for more hybrid meal options that contain a mix of semi-prepared and fully-prepared dishes.

That said, with Instacart expected to go public later this year, the new Ready Meals Hub is also clearly a way to help maintain strong sales following a record number of orders during the 2021 holiday season.