Americans are sourcing more meals from home than they have in years, according to The NPD Group, a leading global information company that just released its 29th annual “Eating Patterns in America” report. The report finds that a decline in restaurant usage and an increase in meals from home is one of the single biggest changes in eating patterns in Americans in the last five years.
For more than a generation, Americans turned to restaurants to prepare more of their meals, but the number of meals Americans bought at restaurants dropped significantly during the recession and isn’t recovering. Americans purchased 191 meals per person for the year ending August 2014, the slowest pace of eating out since 1993. The latest numbers show that Americans now get eight out of 10 meals from home, but that does not mean that Americans are cooking more meals in our home, according to NPD’s report.
“We are eating more meals in our homes, but not cooking more dishes,” says Harry Balzer, VP at The NPD Group and author of the 29th annual “Eating Patterns in America” report. “You can see how Americans are making their lives easier, despite the economic limits, by looking at the foods and beverages that have become a part of more American diets.
“The real ‘Foods of the Decade’ are not hummus, quinoa, nor kale, and not even Sriracha,” adds Balzer. “The real foods and beverages of the decade are those that have increased the most in the American diet (see chart above).
“What’s the real preparation to consume these 10 items…a spoon for the yogurt and maybe a fork and knife for the pancakes,” he says. “We are still leaving the cooking to others. With restaurant visits down, the manufacturers of our foods are filling more of that need. Television fills a need for cooking, too…that’s why the Food Network is so popular. Americans would rather watch others cook on television than make it themselves.“