By: Kelli Windsor, Director, Digital Communications, FMI
According to the 2020 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report, 21% of Gen Z and Millennials report eating much healthier during the COVID-19 pandemic and 27% report eating somewhat healthier during the pandemic. As a Millennial mom I couldn’t help but investigate this finding more. Am I eating healthier these days? Are my friends doing the same? Will this impact our eating habits for years to come?
The Weighing Game
I informally surveyed my group of Millennial mom friends about their eating habits during COVID-19 and what I heard back was a weighing game. Some considered their habits these days to be healthier because they are cooking more at home and trying to reduce food waste by eating what is on hand. These comments align with the 84% of American grocery shoppers who believe home cooking is healthier.
At the same time, the group weighed the other side of the scale too. They still relied on delivery on occasion and justified it by supporting local businesses. Some feel they have indulged in comfort foods often to help them through stressful times. And then there was the big one—alcohol. As one friend put it, “We eat out less and for sure smaller portions, but we drink a heck of a lot more.”
Clearly this informal group of Millennials is weighing the pros and cons of different eating patterns and while the scale might tilt slightly towards eating healthier during COVID-19, it’s by no means an absolute.
This brings me to my personal experience. I feel my COVID-19 eating patterns have been a pendulum swinging between healthy and some old habits. In the early days I committed to healthy meals at all four occasions—breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. At the same time, I began a more intense workout regime. If I was going to have extra time at home, I was going to lose the last of the baby weight!
Well, I did lose the last of the baby weight and I was healthy for a while. But then I got injured, I got stressed and my comfort food phase kicked in. The pendulum swung back higher calorie options. (I should mention during this time I discovered how delicious chicken nuggets are and often snuck the leftovers from my two-year old in the name of reducing food waste). And now, with some healing and perspective, the pendulum is swinging back towards healthy.
Patterns for The Future
It is too soon to tell if Gen Z and Millennials will keep our healthier eating patterns post-COVID-19. Some may run back to outsourcing cooking, which is an opportunity for retailer foodservice departments to support. Some may stick to home cooking, smaller portions and reducing food waste, but I think food retailers and suppliers will need to support these consumers with variety that delights and quick meal solutions, so consumer don’t fatigue.
Regardless, one trend is clear, all my friends are enjoying having more family meals. From conversations at the meal table to feeding adventures with their kids, COVID-19 has created the opportunity for family meals, and it’s one trend my friends and I agree we will remain committed to in years to come. To that end, September, National Family Meals Month™ is almost here and there is still time to help families stay strong with family meals. Learn more at www.FMIFamilyMeals.com.Download 2020 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends