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Scan your frozen meals with Tovala's latest feature

Scan the Store is Tovala's newest feature that detects frozen meals.

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Vanessa Salas/CNET

Last year we reviewed Tovala's second-generation smart countertop oven. Much improved over the first version, it offered good-tasting meal kits, thoughtful design and quick cooking. Our biggest gripe with it was the cost of the meal kits. At $12 per serving, it wasn't an economical answer. Now, Tovala is expanding its scanning technology to include meals from the frozen food aisle. 

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Tovala meal kits cost $12 each. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Tovala is kicking off its "Scan the Store" feature with meals from Trader Joe's inventory. All the food found in the frozen section at Trader Joe's can now be scanned, recognized and cooked in the Tovala oven. If you're shopping at Trader Joe's and wondering if a meal is compatible, the Tovala app can scan the barcode and let you know.

Tovala's oven uses a combination of steam, convection baking and broiling to cook Tovala meal kits. The oven scans the barcode on a Tovala or third-party meal and rotates between these modes according to the dish's requirements. 

When it comes to following third-party package instructions, Tovala says you can ignore instructions for preheating, temperature, cook time and even rack location. However, you should still follow directions for actions like puncturing the film, stirring or rotating food during cooking.

Trader Joe's is currently the only compatible retailer, but the team at Tovala says they are actively working on adding more foods to the database. 

The addition of a third-party meal option adds a lot of value to the $349 Tovala oven and brings it closer to competing with the $599 June Intelligent Oven. There isn't any AI recognizing your food like the June has, but being able to scan a meal from your local grocery is a huge level up for Tovala in the practicality column.