{Fastcompany.com} Exclusive: Revolution Foods Takes Aim At The Grocery Store Ready-Meal Aisle

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Revolution Foods cofounders Kristin Groos Richmond and Kirsten Saenz Tobey understand the challenges that working parents face when it comes to finding nutritious meals and snacks.

“Noodles are always at the top of the list for what kids love to eat. And yet when we’re packing our kids’ lunch boxes, noodles are the hardest thing,” says Tobey, alluding to options like mac ‘n’ cheese and instant ramen. So she and Richmond decided to head to the test kitchen and create a noodle product of their own, one that would meet the company’s stringent nutrition guidelines. “We’re trying to disrupt that idea that noodles that have to be in a styrofoam cup and full of sodium.”

The result is a new product called “In a Cup,” soon on its way to retail partners including Target and Safeway. It retails for under $4, and comes in three flavors: spaghetti marinara, sesame noodles, and Thai satay rice noodles, which are gluten-free.

“We are really focused on trying to solve the hard problems that families have in terms of feeding their families food that kids will eat but that meet families’ needs in terms of convenience and nutrition,” Tobey says. “We’ve wanted to focus on making sure that the food that we create is not just kids’ food, but food that the whole family can eat.”

“We want to take this delicious comfort food that the world has always loved and make it healthy,” Richmond adds.

“In a Cup” marks a shift for Revolution Foods, which got its start providing breakfast, lunch, and dinner to public schools in search of balanced meals made with natural ingredients, rather than the standard lineup of pizza and French fries. The company continues to grow its presence in cafeterias around the country—it now operates in 30 major cities—but sees the grocery aisle at big-box retailers as an important way to achieve its business goals and its mission.

Revolution Foods already offers a grocery store alternative to the iconic Lunchables of childhoods past, made with the “real food” ingredients that are core to its brand (popcorn chicken is its most popular flavor). With “In a Cup,” the company signals its growing interest in developing prepared foods that can serve families with little time to spare for planning and cooking meals.

“The food industry is a $5 trillion industry that is ripe for disruption,” says investor Steve Case, founder of AOL and venture capital firm Revolution Growth. “As more people realize that health begins at the end of the fork, we expect Revolution Foods to emerge as one of the great new ‘next gen’ consumer brands.”

Case also backs fast-casual salad chain Sweetgreen, and recently raised an additional $525 million to further the firm’s investments in food, health, and education.

By Ainsley O’Connell for Fastcompany.com