Three Square Meals VS. All-Day Snacking
Americans still eat three main meals a day, according to new NPD Group research
US consumers’ adherence to three main meals is primarily culturally-based. Daily societal norms in the US are typically scheduled around meal times; going to work and school after breakfast, taking a break for lunch, being home by dinner. This conditioning begins at a young age when kids are held the closest to the standard three meals per day by their parents. As individuals get older, they begin skipping meals with a dip in their hectic twenties and then again later in life. Even though more meals are skipped as people age, the average remains just under three meals per day as consumers try to maintain the practice learned as kids.
Although consumers still hold to three main meals a day, there is a shift in what consumers eat at these meals. The number of dishes and ingredients used to prepare main meals continues to decline as more consumers rely on “healthy” portable snack foods to be a part of their breakfast, lunch, and dinners. As the sizes of our meals shrink and people continue to incorporate more traditional “snack” foods into main meal menus, the perception is they are grazing or snacking more. These mini-meals, however, are not adding new or additional occasions to the day and consumers continue to eat three main meals each day.