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CHICAGO — Americans purchased 191 meals per person for the year ended August 2014, the slowest pace of eating out since 1993, according to The NPD Group's Eating Patterns in America report.
The decline in restaurant usage and corresponding increase in meals from home is one of the single biggest changes in eating patterns among Americans in the last five years, the Chicago-based global information company stated in the 29th annual installment of this research.
For over 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.
The latest numbers show that Americans now get eight out of 10 meals from home. However, that does not mean they are cooking more meals in their homes, NPD’s report noted.
“We are eating more meals in our homes, but not cooking more dishes,” explained Harry Balzer, vice president of 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.”
Comparing 2014 to 2004, the items that have increased the most in the American diet include:
- Bottled water
- Poultry sandwiches
- Mexican food
- Fresh fruit
- Frozen sandwiches
"What’s the real preparation to consume these items … a spoon for the yogurt and maybe a fork and knife for the pancakes!” Balzer said. "We are still leaving the cooking to others. With restaurant visits down, the manufacturers of our foods are filling more of that need."
The annual Eating Patterns in America report is based on The NPD Group's National Eating Trends (NET), which has been continuously tracking the eating habits of U.S. consumers since March 1, 1980. The annual NET sample consists of 2,000 households containing approximately 5,000 individuals.