Eating Habits

In the United States about 70 percent of meals are consumed outside the home, and about 20 percent are eaten in the car.

This is absolutely incredible. We eat 0% of meals in the car (I never knew this was even a possibility) and I’d say about 20% outside the home or 5% if you don’t count the home cooked lunches and snacks. Klara’s daycare doesn’t even serve dinner because kids are supposed to have dinner with parents.

28 thoughts on “Eating Habits

  1. Well, people who work from 9 to 5 every day can hardly have dinner at home. Ditto about kids in kindergartens till 6 pm or at school.

    Also, if there are f.e. young children to take to kindergarten in the mornings, parents may prefer to quietly eat breakfast at work too instead of rising even earlier. May be, those are a big part of meals eaten in a car.

    I think home cooked meals are included in the survey’s 70%. Otherwise, the number is completely improbable.


      1. // Dinner is supposed to be at 7

        Who told that? I thought many dieting tips and much of healthy eating advice (two different things) talked of not eating after 6 or, at least, not after 7.

        Especially if one eats meat, to digest takes time and I read that it’s good to let digestive system rest too during sleeping hours.


        1. “Who told that? I thought many dieting tips and much of healthy eating advice (two different things) talked of not eating after 6 or, at least, not after 7.”

          • I don’t like it either but if you work until 5, then there’s the commute, then you have to actually make something or order takeout and wait for it to get there. It can’t be any earlier for practical reasons. Most kids at Klara’s school get picked up at 6, which is closing time. How they can keep going until that time with no real food in them since 11 am is a mystery to me. Especially the older kids. I once had to pick up Klara at 5:30, and she was extremely cranky because she was so hungry. And who wouldn’t be? They are making the teachers’ lives very hard by making them look after a bunch of very hungry children until 6 pm.

          At my nephew’s daycare, there is a full-scale dinner at 5 pm, which is a better strategy, I think.


          1. Wow, 6 would be incredibly early for me, I never have dinner before 7:30 (but I do snack in the afternoon).
            The school should offer the children a small meal at around 4; the other parents are probably unhappy as well about picking up an hungry and cranky kid.


    1. My husband and I work 9-5, and we make most of our own meals.

      Of course we have a weekly meal plan and get everything we need on the weekends, but it’s pretty manageable. It helps that we both like to cook, so you don’t have one person stuck with all of the cooking all the time.


  2. So your cupholders and front seats are pristine and neither you nor N possess a travel coffee/tea mug?

    I’m guessing many people eat breakfast on their commute (hence the popularity of breakfast/protein bars) and pack a lunch. That’s 2/3 of your meals right there and 20% of your meals “in the car” during the week. When I worked long shifts I’d eat small meals at work (which I packed.)

    When I went to school as a kid, I ate breakfast in the morning at home and always had lunch at school. When I had dance class on Sundays, there would be some food we’d either pack or eat because we’d be there all day. My mom had us have tea so that’s…20% over the week, 25% on school days.

    Of course this excludes truckers and drivers, and people who drop into fast food/fast casual places for any meals.


    1. My car is a pit, Im ashamed to say. It never occurs me to clean it because I don’t clean, period.

      Klara is the person who eats in the car because I never take her straight home from school. We always go somewhere, so I have to bring a complete meal for her to eat while I drive wherever we are going. The last actual meal they get at school is at 11 am. After that it’s something like apple slices and water at 3 pm and that’s it. And an active toddler gets raveniningly hungry by 4:30 pm. I kind of resent the school for not offering a bigger meal after 11 am.


      1. Oh I don’t really clean my car either. I figured only dust accumulates in the front seat and cup holders if you don’t eat there and that Klara eats. Every once in a while, I’ll wipe down the front seats and vacuum (usually if I have to pick someone up.) I haven’t figured out a great system for putting a trash bag in the car, especially for long trips.

        Track and field vans are especially dirty.

        I once had a supervisor who’d carry around Windex and paper towels in her car — she ran her own photography studio.


        1. At this moment, I have the following in the front passenger seat:

          3 books
          tissue paper I used to wrap a gift
          a paper bag that contained medication
          a toy shovel
          a box of tissues
          a lion king tote I use for Klara’s school things

          And that’s besides the mesh bag for stuff I have hanging between the seats.


  3. “We eat 0% of meals in the car (I never knew this was even a possibility)”

    What did you think all those drive thru options at fast food places were for? I didn’t use them often but 90 % of the time it was to buy things that would be eaten in the car (maybe while driving).


    1. “What did you think all those drive thru options at fast food places were for?”

      • I honestly thought it’s to bring the food home and eat it there. And how can you eat while you drive?? Where is the joy in that? How can you celebrate food if you eat while driving? I don’t get this.


      1. “And how can you eat while you drive?? Where is the joy in that? ”

        It’s one of those things that shouldn’t be fun, but can be. There are limits on food (no fried chicken or pizza or ice cream) and traffic conditions (it’s best on not very busy roads) but hamburgers or sandwiches and fries are fun to eat while driving on a not very busy interstate (as an occasional thing, not as a lifestyle).


          1. I once read something to the effect that the best way to out a foreign spy would be to give him/her a cheeseburger with a bunch of toppings and watch him/her eat it, because only a born and raised American can manage that without making a mess.


          2. “You got to be a real pro to do it while driving.”

            It should be ILLEGAL to eat while driving! I really don’t care if other drivers are suicidal, but they can kill themselves off-road without endangering safe drivers like me.


            1. Forget “making a mess”, I would crash my car in a nanosecond if I tried eating while driving. I’ve seen people do the weirdest things behind the wheel, and in my country most cars are still manual. Talk about overconfidence in one’s abilities!


      2. I could just about see the value of drive thru fast food places if the plan was then to drive and park somewhere with a nice view, like maybe a beach. Hopefully with the idea of a leisurely stroll after eating. But in the UK folk seem to park in dingy boring locations, and then dump the litter afterwards.


  4. It’s pretty easy to get to 33%: 5 lunches eaten at work (I think they count homemade lunches brought in), plus 2 meals eaten out per week = 7/21. And that doesn’t even count the fact that lots of people eat breakfast either in their car or at their desk at work.
    But I agree that eating out a lot is a very US thing. Growing up in the UK, meals out a restaurant were a rare treat, something we would do once or twice while on vacation, or for somebody’s birthday etc, Certainly not a weekly occurrence. But then the relative cost of supermarket vs restaurant food is very different in the UK and the US. We don’t eat out anywhere near as much as those figures suggest, but still much more than I did in the UK.
    And we never ate in the car (except for picnic lunches when we were out for the day and it started to rain- a very British summer occurrence, lol). I am still resistant to this, but I’ll admit to having done it a few times over here.


  5. For me, eating out is caused largely by unattractive grocery shopping options. Having the right things to cook makes eating at home SO much more attractive and easier. I also really like to go out to lunch on workdays. And I’ll end up having dinner out once or twice a week for social reasons or because of being out of town for the day. With the expense of groceries where I am and the relative inexpensiveness of these interesting ethnic restaurants I frequent, eating out is somewhat, but not catastrophically more expensive than eating at home. When it really pays to stay home is when you have kids, or men (it’s usually men) with large appetites, or when your habitual restaurants are very chic.


    1. I recently discovered that our school is ranked very high for food on campus. Our food is horrific. Pizza Hut, Chick Fil A, and that sort of stuff. All of the gallbladder attacks I had that led to the diagnosis were after I ate on campus. So I’m wondering what other campuses are like if this is considered good campus food. Do they have nothing but vending machines or whatever?


      1. I have either become a snob or they are talking about the cafeteria food in for the dorm dwellers. Because Pizza Hut pizza crusts are chemical and sweet, and do not bear reheating.

        My freshman year of college didn’t have such horrific food but I actually lost weight.


        1. Pizza Hut is by far the best chain pizza brand in America. I agree that reheated slices are blah! — but the idea is to buy the pizza when you’re really hungry, and eat the whole thing in one meal.


      2. The student cafeteria has a salad bar I really like and some of their other food isn’t too bad. And we have actual restaurants fairly near campus. We have fast food too, and I hate it, and the food near the U of Oregon was much better overall.


      3. I am convinced that every campus subscribes to a different metric to judge how good their food is, and it’s whatever metric makes their campus looks good. I swear every campus I have been to is “#1 in the college food ranking”…


    2. But I know what you mean about bad grocery shopping experiences. In Indiana, it was torture. The fresh produce aisle was the size of a toenail. It was horrible.


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