Tovala has added a feature to cook grocery-bought frozen meals with a single scan.

By Mike Pomranz
February 15, 2019
Courtesy of Tovala

Frozen meals and other convenience foods are purposefully simple. The instructions are typically written on the back of the box; the prep is usually little more than removing packaging and maybe poking a few holes in some film. But smart oven company Tovala has found a way to make preparing grocery-bought frozen foods even simpler: The brand has just added a new feature that will figure out the instructions for you simply by scanning the barcode on the packaging.

To quickly recap: Tovala launched in 2015 and was initially brought to market on Kickstarter the following year as “a multi-function smart oven and food-delivery plan that work together so you can enjoy delicious, fresh home cooking quickly.” The appliance — which can bake, steam, broil, and toast — garnered enough interest that Tyson Foods invested in this “Keurig for Food” last year. But part of what has made it a bit of a tricky sell is that it’s primarily built to work with its own delivery meal plan. Yes, it can work like a normal steam oven, but what’s the point of a having a “smart” oven if you’re doing most of the thinking?

But now, Tovala has added what could be its killer app: This week, the brand launched the ability for the oven to cook frozen foods purchased at the grocery store by using Tovala’s front-facing scanner to read an item’s barcode. This new feature is somewhat limited to start: It’s currently only compatible with Trader Joe's frozen foods with oven/toaster cooking instructions. But the company appears poised to continue to add more items in the near future. And the Tovala is a connected device, so in theory, this new functionality will continue to be updated as its released.

Of course, you can’t completely ignore what’s written on your Trader Joe’s box with this feature. “You can ignore the instructions that specify preheating, temperature, cook time, and oven rack location (cook on the center rack, etc.). However, for the best results, you should still follow any action instructions, including instructions for removing or puncturing film, flipping, stirring, rotating, etc.,” Tovala explains on its website. And let’s be honest: If you can’t be bothered to remove the film from your frozen dinner, you don’t need a smart oven, you need a personal assistant.

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