Growing up, my family cooked; and we cooked a lot. Making meals and such from scratch was not something reserved for special occasions, holidays, or to impress company; in my household, it was just our way of life. However, once I was old enough, and I started going over to my friends’ houses, I soon realized this was not the norm. A study done by CBS News found that only 43% of Americans reported having home cooked meals six to seven days a week. In fact, roughly half of the money Americans spend on food, is spent on food eaten when eating out. But it did not used to be this way, in 1984, roughly 75% of the meals eaten at home in the US were also prepared at home. And a graph produced by the Washington Post depicts the decline of home cooked meals in the US since then. So what is causing this decline in preparing meals oneself?supermarkethttp://www.institutefornaturalhealing.com/2011/04/the-economics-of-obesity-why-are-poor-people-fat/
A major factor influencing this decline is time. On average, Americans over fifteen years of age, spend an hour eating per day. Typically, this time is not solely spent eating either; we are multitasking. It is a rare occasion for an American to be eating for the sake of doing so. We are too busy to relish in meal time, so instead dining becomes a chore which we do while simultaneously doing other things, work, watch television, drive, etc. Making a home cooked meal takes time. One has to select a recipe, go out and buy groceries, do the meal prep, cook the meal, and then eat it. The OECD’s conducted survey conclude that the average amount of time spent on meal prep and cleanup in the surveyed countries other than the United States is two hours and eight minutes per day. Whereas in the United States, the average is thirty minutes. While time dedicated to meal prep is a major factor in the decline of home cooked meals in the U.S., it is not the only factor.
Another influential variable in the decline of home cooked meals in the United States is an economic one. In 2015, less than half of the U.S. population were middle income; 49.9% to be specific. In that same year, 29% of Americans were considered to be of low income, and 21.1% were considered to be of upper income status. This effects the number of meals prepared at home because it is more expensive to be doing so. When shopping in a supermarket , it is less expensive to buy the prepackaged, premade, and processed foods, than it is to buy ingredients to make a meal yourself. A dollar spent on the processed foods, will buy you more calories, than spending it on the ingredients needed to make a meal. Then, from a financial standpoint, it makes far more sense to be buying the premade food rather than the ingredients to make meals yourself, because you can get more bang for your buck. And people do just that. The average American consumes 72 frozen meals annually, and spends $57.10 on said meals per year.
Based on this information, it can be concluded that we are in a shift away from traditional, home cooking, to these new manufactured, ready made meals.