Eating Habits of a Modern Family: Then and Now

Eating Habits of a Modern Family: Then and Now
Eating Habits of a Modern Family: Then and Now

A new research report explores changes in consumers’ eating habits over the years — from creating “hybrid homemade meals” to the rise of snacking — and provides guidance on how the food industry can best respond to these changes.

Acosta Sales & Marketing, a leading full-service sales and marketing agency in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, released Thursday “The Evolution of Eating Hot Topic Report.”

“The way our society views food has come a long way since the TV dinner heyday of the 1950s. From sharing recipes and photos of food on social media to a widespread fixation on healthy food and fads, we have seen a seismic shift in consumers’ attitudes toward food,” said Colin Stewart, senior VP, Acosta.

The Evolution of Eating report reveals that:

Cooking from scratch is being replaced by new meal preparation options. Americans are turning to ready-to-eat and take-and-bake meal solutions and are cooking “hybrid homemade meals,” such as a grocery store rotisserie chicken with a salad-in-a-bag and homemade potatoes.

  • Nine out of 10 shoppers surveyed said they prefer eating at home (including cooking, bringing prepared items home or having food delivered). Of those, 61% cited comfort, 60% cited cost and 59% cited convenience as the reasons for their preference.
  • Nearly half (46%) of total U.S. diners said they prepared meals at home over the past year. Millennials edge out slightly higher at 48%.
  • Millennials, however, reported eating prepared foods from grocery stores at home at a much higher rate than total U.S. diners (27% vs. 16% respectively).

Eating habits vary across generations. All generations prefer to eat at home, no matter the meal type. However, interesting generational differences abound.

  • Millennials reported enjoying cooking the most, while Silents were most likely to find cooking ‘a responsibility not a pleasure.’
  • Millennials and Gen Xers said they eat at least five meals a day, while Boomers and Silents said they eat less frequently.
  • Gen Xers did the most dinner planning while Boomers did the most lunch planning. Silent shoppers did very little planning, regardless of meal type.

Health and wellness has a transformative impact on eating. Consumers are becoming even more educated about the connection between diet and wellness and are utilizing the information to transform their shopping and eating behaviors.

Healthy eating continues to evolve and shows no waning interest as consumers seek a variety of ways, beyond traditional diets, to create plans that work for them.

  • The majority of shoppers (61%) ranked reading food labels as very important to their health and wellness concerns when they grocery shop.
  • More than half of shoppers reported trying to eat more fruits and vegetables in the past year.
  • Shoppers reported increased interest in eating more whole grains and buying foods with fewer preservatives.

The Evolution of Eating report was compiled using research conducted by Acosta, as well as the company’s experience working with CPG manufacturers and retailers.

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Rakesh Raman