As The New York Times reported recently, “sitting down to three square meals is going the way of the landline.” People now graze throughout the day and some 40 percent of Americans eat only snacks, not meals.
And yet, we still write cookbooks for one-pot meals and recipes for dishes meant to be consumed by more than one, sitting around a table. We still organize cookbooks by appetizers, side dishes and entrees, oblivious to this new development.
I’ve been thinking about how new cookbooks might be organized to address this trend. There would be no sections for breakfast, lunch or dinner, because these categories are outdated. We could categorize snacks as sweet or savory, crispy or salty. They could be dips, proteins, carb loads, or produce heavy. Would there be a point to an entertaining section? People could eat any of these snacks at any time of day. And would there now be opportunities for entire cookbooks about low-carb or high-protein snacks, paleo snacks, or vegan snacks? Snacks that can be frozen and microwaved?
Sadly, these new research results mean more people eat while in cars, at their desks, or in front of the television. Of course you eat this way too, from time to time. But it’s sad that more than 50 percent of Americans now eat alone, says NDP, a market research group.
Other trends reported in the story that provide food for thought:
* Increasingly, people are looking for high-protein snacks as a way to feel full without lots of calories
* Portable foods are desirable
* Quick preparation is key.
Parade magazine reported on the same story with lots of infographics — kind of a snackable format (heh heh). It says, for example, that Americans ate 405 savory snacks, 366 sweet snacks and 357 healthier snacks per year, with healthier snacks (fruit, nuts and protein bars) up 14 percent since 2006. That’s more than 3 snacks per day.
So if you are a recipe developer or cookbook writer, it might be time for a sea change. There’s nothing wrong with five small meals a day, after all. As long as they’re not all eaten alone.
(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
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For more on snacking trends, you might also like:
- Snack Foods Growing at Mealtime
- Americans Snack Differently Than Other Nations (scroll down after the chart)
- Bar Menus Play with Salty and Sweet Flavors