San Diego State marketing professor Michael Belch talks about how the expansion of prepared foods at the grocery store is a sign of the times.
Michelle Ross visits her Hillcrest neighborhood Whole Foods Market at least four times a week, but she's not buying groceries. She's buying ready-to-eat hot meals for lunch and dinner.
"It is easier than buying it all, keeping it in the fridge, I come here," said Ross.
She is part of a growing trend of people picking up hot meals at grocery stores. Today stores from Whole Foods to Ralph's and Vons are expanding their hot and cold food bars to accommodate an expanding demand. Besides the popular soup and salad bar, the store is also including vegan menu items.
Paul Segraves says he could spend $4 on a greasy burger but would rather buy fresh food at his local grocery store.
"The quality, the health benefit, I rarely ever go to a fast food place," said Segraves.
Whole Foods has been expanding the hot meal section in many of its grocery stores. The Hillcrest market just expanded its food bar section by 60 percent. Most of the foods are prepared at the store location and include vegetables grown locally.
Though many shoppers say the food is a little more expensive.
"It's a little pricey but it's worth it I think," said Veerpal Brar.
And as long as it fills a need, grocery stores will fill it with a growing selection popular dishes.
"Consumers just don't have the time these days to prepare meals," said Ray Kau with Whole Foods.
San Diego State University professor Michael Belch agrees.
"People are becoming money rich and time poor," said Belch.
The marketing professor said some grocery stores are looking more like fast food restaurants with a catch.
"It is fast food, but it's a little better," said Belch.
But hot food isn't the only thing on the menu. The Whole Foods is now building a tavern inside its Hillcrest location. The name will be the 7th Avenue Pub and will include beer, wine and a limited menu.