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By combining Winning Foods' frozen food blocks, home cooks can construct a meal in minutes

Out of Belgium comes a new food concept rethinking how people rustle up dinner. Winning Foods sells 16 frozen, bagged meal elements. Home cooks select a dish from an accompanying app and follow simple instructions on how to combine which building blocks to prepare the dish.

For swift retrieval from the freezer, each block has its own alphanumeric code that's also used in recipes. Letters identify one of four basic categories: B for base (or sauce), V for vegetables, C for carbs and P for protein. A stir-fry, for example, might call for 2 cups of B3 Flavor base, 2 cups of C1 Grains, 3 cups of V4 Greens mix and 1 cup of P2 Chicken-style protein.

Stack the right blocks, and out comes a meal — no wonder Winning Foods describes itself as culinary LEGO. Since the frozen food comes in bite-sized pieces, it's quick to thaw and cook. If customers stock Winning Foods' full line-up of 16 elements and add basic pantry items like oils, spices and wraps, they can prepare over 75 recipes featured in the app.

While founded in Belgium, Winning Foods will launch in the Netherlands in March 2024, following a pilot and testing phase. A sample pack can be ordered online for EUR 49 and contains five blocks for making ten meal portions using up to ten recipes.

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In contrast to meal delivery kits like HelloFresh and what was once Blue Apron, Winning Foods doesn't require customers to select specific dishes in advance. And they don't have to chop ingredients or follow complicated recipes, either. The goal is to make preparing healthy and delicious meals as easy, quick and flexible as possible.

The startup's decision to go with frozen over fresh ingredients was motivated by concerns about food waste. If a customer's plans change and they dine out more than expected, their fresh meal kit would wither away in the fridge. Meanwhile, bags of frozen veggies, grains and protein will happily wait until needed.

Eliminating food waste isn't Winning Foods' only push for sustainability. The brand purposefully doesn't place veganism front and center, but it's on a mission: "We're all about rocking the plant-based lifestyle while giving Mother Earth a break. Our LEGO-for-food is like a cosmic culinary adventure, making it easy to say 'see ya later' to animal products."

Convenience may have become a cornerstone of consumption habits, but it's typically at odds with planet-friendly behavior. As people grapple with that tension, they'll wholeheartedly welcome solutions like Winning Foods that manage to merge responsible choices with the ease and instant gratification they're accustomed to.