Dr Preethi Ramachandran, Dr Sweta Rai and Dr Sabbu Sangeeta
Food makes an indispensable part of any living organism. It is the substance that is consumed to deliver nourishment and support. In the present-day, the food habits of consumer and their buying behaviour has changed dramatically. Increase in urbanization, increase in number nuclear families, changing nature of jobs and businesses, scarcity of time, convenience and change in lifestyle have led consumer’s preferences shift from fresh and healthy food to the food which is ready to use or instant. The word ‘Instant’ is widely spelled frequently by the modern generation to indicate the quick accomplishment of any task thereby saving time and energy. Ever changing life styles of the present generation compel them to search for commodities which can give them better satisfaction. They in fact finds it difficult to do in leisurely way. Same apply in the field of food. Time taking preparation of food items especially traditional food such as kheer/payasam, idli, dosa, vada, soup, noodles, gulab jamun etc. take lot of time for preparation and is a laborious process. This gave rise to the concept for the development of various instant food mixes or products, which is ready to eat just in few minutes. Instant mixes comprise of a mixture of processed cereals, pulses, condiments, spices or other foods in varying combinations. They require simple mixing with water and boiling or heating or baking. These products have found increasing favour in the recent years for the modern women.
Instant food mixes offer great convenience to the homemakers to prepare traditional delicacies, it is also easy to prepare since only the base dough is made available. In that way, they are different from RTE products that require only re-heating. The instant mix has six months shelf life and is free from preservatives. Table 1 provides the detail of key players in the field if instant food mixes. There are many small industries suppling their products and it is generally regional based. There are many factors which can influence the customers while buying the instant food mixes which are: proper hygiene, packaging, etc. The knowledge and information regarding products about the brands can be get through TV, social media, newspapers, etc. the main factors affecting the buying behaviour of consumer are:
A. Readily Available: Instant food products like – curd, pickles, Maggi, instant upma, dosa, oats are easily available on any general stores. So, people feel easy to buy these products.
B. Urbanization: Urbanization not only resulted in modernization but also intensively on hectic schedules. People remains busy in their day-to-day jobs and hence it influences people to buy instant food products.
C. Convenient: It is too convenient for consumers to use instant food as it takes few seconds or no time in preparation.
D. Packaging: Packaging is a factor which attracts everyone towards any product, thus play a significant role. The packing of instant food products is so attractive, youngsters get attracted and it influence them to buy instant food.
E. Advertisement: Advertising promotes social messages and stimulate social action toward purchase of a product. Spending on advertisement also creates positive impression about a brand in the minds of the consumers.
F. Quality: Quality plays a major role in buying of any product. If the quality of a product is satisfactory then only people will buy. Instant food products are of good quality, which influence consumer to buy ready to eat/ready to cook food.
G. Emergence of Nuclear families: Now there are more of nuclear families and women are also doing jobs, they do not have much time to prepare delicious food which influence them to buy instant food products.
Table 1. Key players of different Instant Food Mixes (IFM)
|Sr. No.||Food Product||Brand Name|
|1.||Upma||MTR, Priya, Bambinos, Elite, Halidiram, Gits, Eastern, Mothers Recipe|
|2.||Noodle||Maggie (Nestle), Knoor, Yipee, TopRamen, Ching’s, Wai-Wai,|
|4.||Idli||MTR, Double horse, Tata Sampan, Haldiram, Gits, Aashirwad|
|5.||Dosa||MTR, Double horse, Tata Sampan, Haldiram, Gits, Aashirwad, Tops|
|6.||Gulab jamun||MTR, Aashiwad, Gits, Tops|
|7.||Payasaam/kheer||Double horse, Bambinos, Gits, MTR, Mothers Recipe, Ponkathir|
|8.||Poha||Haldiram, Eastern, Mothers Recipe, Aashirwad|
Instant food mix is an embodiment of the emerging lazy economy as more people are in the state of being single, lonely and living a fast-paced life. At present many research work has been done to develop technologies to standardize and commercialize instant food mixes of traditional or popular Indian foods apart from those mentioned above. In this context a lot of studies has been conducted to develop products like instant khadi mix, instant khichadi mix, instant vegetable pulav mix, instant soup, weaning and porridge mix from dehydrated pumpkin and its flesh, etc. efforts are also being made to commercialize these products for the nutritional benefit of the people. Various institutes are also taking countless efforts in the utilization of locally grown cereals, pulses and vegetables to optimize the utilization of these crops in instant food mixes either in the form of local food or the food which is known countrywide.
The development and standardization of processing parameters for several instant mixes is an important consideration. Standardization is a process to set instructions used to consistently prepare a known quantity and quality of food for a specific location. A standardized recipe for a instant mix will produce a product that is close to identical in taste and yield every time it is made, no matter who follows the directions. A good standardized recipe for IFM will include
- Portion size – amount or size of the individual portion
- Ingredient list/quantity – exact quantities of each ingredient (with the exception of spices that may be added to taste)
- Preparation procedures – Specific directions for the order of operations and types of operations (e.g., blend, fold, mix, sauté)
- Cooking temperatures and times
- Special instructions, according to the standard format used in an operation
- Service instructions, including hot/cold storage
In addition to the list above, standardized recipes of food preparation may also include recipe cost, nutritional analysis, variations, garnishing and presentation tips, work simplification tips, suggested companion recipes, and photos. There are numerous benefits of standardization process while development of a product, which is why they’re so important – and sometimes even required – for food service management programs. Here are several to consider, thought here are even more.
a) Quality control: Standardized recipes provide the same high-quality food every time they’re used because they’ve been thoroughly tested and evaluated.
b) Portion and yield control: The amount of food that will be produced is the same every time with a standardized recipe, meaning it will reduce leftover food and make shortages much less likely. You’ll get exactly what you need.
c) Cost control: It’s easier to manage buying and storing food when you’re using the same ingredients in the same quantities every time a particular recipe is made.
d) Satisfaction: When you’ve done the research to find the types of foods your customers want, recipe standardization ensures that they get the same quality, presentation and amount that they’re accustomed to each time the meal is served.
e) Consistent nutrient content: With so much testing and planning involved in a standardized recipe, you’ll know the exact nutritional content of the food every time it’s prepared, making nutrition management a snap.
Now comes a question on how to standardize a recipe. Selecting a basic format for recipe is an important first step in developing procedures for recipe standardization. A block arrangement or format is helpful in developing the recipe. A block format is generally used in quantity food service operations. This method of portraying information categorizes the needed ingredients with amounts and procedures in visual “blocks” across columns. Information included in the recipe should also be determined for use in each operation. Certain information is essential, regardless of the form in which the recipe is written. Development and standardization of recipe for different food mixes requires following steps to be critically followed.
- Review recipe carefully. Check that:
- All ingredients are listed.
- Amounts of ingredients are correct and clearly stated in weight or measure (volume).
- Amounts are converted to the largest possible unit and fractions are avoided if possible.
- Ingredients are listed in the order used.
- Directions are detailed, complete and accurate, and in the order they are to be done.
- Pan size, time and temperature of baking/cooking/boiling are clear.
- Prepare the recipe in a small quantity.
- Weigh or measure the amount of product to be placed into each pan, if appropriate, noting this on the recipe.
- Determine the recipe yield.
- Measure the total yield: this could be a count, number of specific-sized pans, volume in gallons, quarts, etc., or weight in pounds. Record this on the recipe.
- Determine serving size: Use the same unit of measure as the total yield (count, pan cuts, volume, or weight). Example: if the total yield is a liquid measure (volume) such as 3 gallons, use cups or fractions of a cup for the serving size. Record the serving size on the recipe.
- Determine serving utensil: Be sure the utensil used measures the amount stated for serving size. Example: If the serving size is ½ cup, spoodle or ladle may be appropriate. Record the serving utensil on the recipe.
- Compute the number of servings the recipe makes. Calculate the total yield by the serving size in one of the following ways. Record this on the recipe.
- When the serving size is a unit of measure (items, cups, ounces) divide the total yield by the serving size. Example: 1 gallon divided by ½ cup = 32.
- When the serving size is not a standard unit of measure, use the selected serving utensil to physically transfer product from one container to the other. Example: 1 gal of “frozen fruit fluff” may yield 48 rounded #16 dishers.
- When the serving size is a number of cuts from a pan, multiply the number of pans times the number of servings per pan.
- Evaluate the recipe for quality, yield, serving size, flavor, color, etc. Adjust if needed.
- Calculate the meal pattern contribution. Record calculations on the back of the recipe.
- Re-test the recipe to assure all information in the recipe is complete and correct.
- For potentially hazardous foods include the cooking temperature and other HACCP food safety information (optional).
- Calculate the cost of the recipe and per serving (optional).
A recipe is considered standardized only when it has been tried and adapted for use in a particular situation or in a given food service operation. A recipe may be obtained from many sources; however, you may have to adjust and standardize for use in a particular situation. Consumer acceptability plays an important role in standardization of instant food mixes. The proportion of ingredients, time of cooking, method of cooking, method of plating, use of external ingredients etc. are standardized while development of various instant food mixes. The storage stability and packaging of an instant food mix is also an important consideration while development and standardization as most of the mixes are available in dehydrated form. While standardizing the packaging material the water activity of the mix plays a crucial role as it is the measure to determine the microbial safety of the product during entire storage period. Therefore, it is necessary to standardize the storage condition and storage time of any instant mix, before they are commercialized for market purpose.
Therefore, it is extremely essential for food service establishments to standardize recipes in order to maintain quality and to remove guess work out of food preparation. Hence, the development and use of standardized recipes for the preparation of instant food mixes is one of the most important tools available to food service operations to control costs and ensure product consistency and quality. Consistent duplication of a food item can be achieved with an accurate record of ingredients, amounts and methods of combining ingredients and cooking. The process of standardization recipes results in instruction that have been tested in a specific operation with equipment and procedures that will be used in the production of the item. Recipes are tested for quality, quantity procedures, time, temperature, equipment and yield. In standardization process, items should be tested and results are recorded until the product characteristics match the needs of the operation. Hence, it can be concluded that instant food mixes are one of the most convenient products for today fast-moving population who wants to have good tasting traditional food products but want to spent less time in kitchen, but development of such product is way long process. It involves hard core efforts of scientist, engineers and many more people before such products are launched in market. Such products are not one day effort. They require continues study of consumer demand, continues search of new ingredients in order to add variety and continuous research in the field of development, optimization and standardization. Therefore, next time when you pick a packet of instant food mix, give thought for the people who had made continuous effort to make your life this simple.
*Department of Food Science and Technology, College of Agriculture, GBPUAT, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand, India