The Real Reason Banquet Frozen Meals Are So Cheap

As every college student who has been down to their last dollar knows, there are some reliable go-to meals you can make that do not require a lot of money — or even a stove. Microwavable dishes like ramen noodles, Totino's pizza rolls, and Kraft Easy Mac have made up the entirety of some scholars' diets. But, for those discerning undergrads who appreciate a little diversity in their dinner offerings, a Banquet frozen meal provides just that, with savory sides and even dessert pairings in some of their more premium packages.

While you wait patiently for your Banquet TV dinner to finish cooking, you might pause to wonder how such a sumptuous supper can be so affordable. According to Mel Magazine, the low price tag of these frozen feasts has something to do with their ingredients. Banquet frozen meals are mostly made of corn, grain, and meat scraps, and according to the outlet, corn and grain are both subsidized, making it cheaper for Banquet's parent company, Conagra, to buy. A subsidy, as you might recall from Agriculture 101, is when the government provides financial aid to an industry, farmers, or even consumers to make food more affordable for not just undergrads, but for all Americans (via Spoon University). Not unlike the way some students subsidized their keg parties by selling those Red solo cups, coincidentally.

Other factors that make Banquet frozen meals cost-effective

As you slice into your thoroughly heated Banquet Salisbury steak or slip a spoonful of their mashed potatoes covered in country-style gravy into your mouth, you might think something along the lines of: "But, what about the manufacturing costs?" Well, it turns out frozen dinners are also inexpensive to manufacture. As Mel Magazine points out, the production process relies largely on machines and requires little human labor. The last name of one of the early inventors in the frozen food machine game may even ring a bell. According to NPR, Clarence Birdseye, founder of Conagra's Birds Eye brand of frozen foods (via Conagra), created a multiplate freezing machine that was used in the frozen food industry for decades.

But, there may also be more going on with Banquet meals than meets the eye (or wallet, in this case). According to Mel Magazine, since these meal prices have not increased with inflation, grocery stores may be using them as a lure. The pricing of such loss leaders is designed to attract customers to the store, or even to a particular section of the store, to entice shoppers to make impulse buys. Five Banquet frozen meals and a box of Nestlé Drumsticks? Don't mind if we do!