Only 27 percent of busy Americans today are eating the standard three meals a day, opting to often graze on a variety of snacks instead. Whether at home, at work, in the car or just on the go, “snack meals” are on the rise.
In revealing that 86 percent of Americans eat snacks in place of meals, the new national survey of 2,000 adults (ages 18 and over), commissioned by Farm Rich, also found:
- Three quarters of Americans no longer eat a traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner
- The average person today eats two meals and three snacks each day
- Men more likely to still consume traditional three meals a day
- Lunch is the meal most often replaced with snacks
- 81 percent of Americans consume snacks while at home
- The most popular items for snack meals include cheese, crackers, fruit and chips
‘Fast’ food: saving time on meal prep
With busy schedules not allowing time for meal prep and cooking, as well as health factors and a desire for more variety in their diets, people are shifting away from a classic meal structure as the ease of smaller snack meals is often a better fit for their day.
- Almost half (49 percent) of respondents say they replace lunch for snack meals
- Peak snacking hours are between 1 and 4 p.m.
- The average person eats five snack meals each week
The convenience and portability of snacks and quicker bites over bigger meals has the typical American eating four snacks ‘on the move’ each week, whether that be in the car, using public transportation or literally on their feet. Snacks also answer the need for more fuel and energy throughout the day without taking much time. While most snacks are consumed from home by a surprising 81 percent of Americans, 31 percent say they snack at the office as well (as desk drawers often hold a few light bites).
“The growth of digital streaming and desire for quick foods that fuel us have led to an increase in snack consumption, especially at home,” said Shannon Gilreath, Director of Marketing, Farm Rich. “People are no longer feeling bound to the traditional three meals a day, which gives them more variety and time back to do the things they enjoy most, and for many, that doesn’t involve a ton of time in the kitchen, especially on busy days.”
When eating small-plates or snack meals, people are most often reaching for cheese, crackers, chips, veggies, meat proteins (such as deli meat), fruit, nuts, yogurt – followed by a variety of frozen foods and snacks such as mozzarella sticks, chicken nuggets, sliders, pizza bites and potato skins.
Millennials ‘fueled’ by frequent snacking
Millennials are most likely to participate in the idea that “three standard meals a day is a thing of the past,” consuming snacks to take the place of a meal at least six times a week and eating at least six snacks while on the go during that time. Twenty percent of millennials are also eating snacks on their feet while running errands. When it comes to this group, snacks are for energy, not just cravings. Two in five reach for snacks to fuel them throughout their day, compared to just one in five older adults (55 and older) who seek snacks for an extra pep in their step. Instead, 60 percent of older adults use snacks to curb cravings.
New favorites in the freezer aisle
Almost half of all respondents (45 percent) prefer the microwave when preparing foods for snacks or snack meals over the conventional oven, toaster oven, air or deep fryer. Not only does the freezer aisle and microwave offer easy prep, but it also provides products with a longer shelf life and less tossed spoiled food. As new products continue to emerge, the freezer aisle is becoming the go to, especially for Millennials, whether they’re looking for variety, healthy options or just a way to cut down on meal prep and food waste, with sales being on the rise according to the Washington Post.
While 49 percent of respondents turn to snack dinners due to the lack of time they have to plan, prepare and sit down to a meal, there are other reasons shoppers are turning to quick meal solutions, like the freezer aisle:
- 35 percent eat snack dinners to reduce food waste
- For 31 percent, snack dinners are a way to offer more variety at meal time
- 33 percent shop the freezer aisle at least once a week
- Not by coincidence, the frozen foods segment of grocery store shopping has seen strong growth over the past 12 months
“Snacking gives flexibility to busy families and individuals with untraditional schedules,” Gilreath added. “This shift toward enjoying an all-snack meal or snacks on the go speaks to changing lifestyles, and the grocery freezer is a great resource for foods that offer the ease, long shelf life, variety and sustenance people sometimes need.”
Other key findings from the survey:
Top 10 Foods That Make Up 'Small Plates' or 'Snack Meals'
- Frozen Mozzarella Sticks
Top 5 Reasons to Snack
Top Reasons for Purchasing Frozen Foods
- Convenience and Quick Preparation
- Long Shelf Life
- Taste and Flavor
- Minimal Effort to Prepare
Source: Farm Rich