Another Tough Question

Joined Mar 30, 2002
Hey the help that I am getting with the last question I put on here is excellent. So we have just decided on our topic for our Independ Study (which is our major assignment)
My main Question is -
Has eating out became more popular than cooking and eating at home?
With secondary questions -
1. What causes people to eat out? is it just a matter of time?
2. Has the amount of people eating out increased?
3. What is preferred when eating out? dining in or take-away?
4. What age group mostly eats out?
5. Is there any day people specificly eat out? why?

If there is any information or resources that you think I will be able to get information from it will be really appreciated.

Thanks for your help
Joined May 26, 2001
Well, I don't know about sources in Australia, but for information on trends in the United States, you might try looking at the website for Nation's Restaurant News -- they may have archived material on those questions.

BTW: for "take-away" here in the U.S., look for either "take-out" or "HMR" ("home meal replacement"), which covers restaurant food AND the prepared stuff available in supermarkets.

What do YOU think?
Joined Jun 9, 2001

this is so interesting to think about!! i dont know if yo uwant our opinion but we are always happy to help out!

in my opinion, eating out has become very popular in the US. Since technology has increased and people are becoming more busy and also the fact that women are in the work force, it doesnt really allow time for people to cook at home much. when i was growing up, my mom and dad worked all the time and we didnt have dinner to much together.. at least a home cooked dinner. a lot of the time, we had to get dinner ourselves. since kids are busy with after school activities and work, that also contrubutes to people eating out more and neglecting homecooked meals. it is hard... these days... to get everyone home at the same time to make dinner versus back in the day when the kids came home from school, mom was a house wife, and dad came home at 5 pm and allowed plenty of time to cook dinner. these days... you jsut dont see it to often. however, some people say that since 9-11, more familys are seeing the need to spend time with there familys and are doing it at the dinner table.

i think the people that are eating out tend to be in the range of small kids to about 35-50 years old. i take my whole family for example... when i was younger, we ate out a lot but now that i visit at home, we cook dinner at home versus going out as much. my grandparents hardly go out at all, along with my uncles and aunts. they eat at home!

i think people tend to take out while at lunch and go out for dinner at night time. i also think fast food and casual dining are very popluar.

i think that people eat out (fast food and casual dining) between monday and thursday and people tend to eat out at nice restaurants on friday and saturday. i think, if they cook at home with the family, it tends to be on sunday.

i say this while talking about the Us. if we talk about other countries... they tend to eat more at home then eat out... depending on the finacial statues of the country.

i hope this helps... again.. its my opinion of what i have experianced with my family and in the restaurant buinsess.
Joined Nov 29, 2001
Originally posted by kate r
Has eating out became more popular than cooking and eating at home?

Some might say it's almost become necessary with priorities shifting away from the family.

1. What causes people to eat out? is it just a matter of time?

After putting in hours at work, then shuttling kids from one extra curricular activity to another, there is little time to dedicate to preparing nutritious meals. Eventually, for the mother/father whoever is responsible for getting food into the family, the joy goes out of cooking because it starts presenting itself as a big time-eater.

2. Has the amount of people eating out increased?

By way too much. See any/all studies on obesity. This link has finally been made. While restaurant cooking might be delicious (and in the case of fast food, well, fast), it's laden with fat and salt. Eventually the palate beings accepting this extra saltiness and fattiness as "normal" and home-cooked meals pale by comparison because of their lack of unabashed salt/fat addition in the interest of better health.

3. What is preferred when eating out? dining in or take-away?

Dining in allows the restaurant to do the clean up - take away decreases the amount of the bill and allows you to eat in your underwear. It's all about what you're after - a total reduction in the work or $$ consciousness and comfort without the work.

4. What age group mostly eats out?

By default, nearly all. Families with young children eat out because of perceived time constraints; DINKS (double income no kids) eat out because of long hours put in at jobs; seniors eat out because it sometimes doesn't pay to buy all the raw ingredients which turn into science projects in the fridge, and lots of times eating at home would mean eating alone. Mealtime also becomes socialization time for seniors.

5. Is there any day people specificly eat out? why?

Reasoning could be affixed to any of the days people eat out. Fri/Sat/Sun, it's the weekend and I deserve it; Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu, I had such a rough day at work, I don't feel like cooking.

This is a great subject to explore and I'd definitely be interested to see some of your findings.
Joined Jan 31, 2002
I have to disagree with Isaac.

I think that many older people dine out, in the U.S., anyway. It's part of the retirement dream, isn't it? The four-o'clock early bird buffet special? It's a little cliche, but it's a little true, too.

Anyway, this got me thinking about another interesting point. Isaac said his grandparents hardly ever eat out. Mine eat out all the time! At least once a week. Why do they eat out? Because the food they make at home is terrible. I was reading that Madilne Kamman always asks potential chef-types what their grandmother cooked for them. My grandmother never cooked anything for me.

It's not that my grandmother isn't a good cook, it's just that she's of a generation that was deeply impressed upon by the advent of food technologies -- widely available canned produce, for example. When my grandmother does cook, it ALWAYS involves a can-opener. And, usually, a microwave. They don't seem to make the connection that the food they get when dining out is so much better because it's FRESH. What do y'all think about this?

Also, I think a lot of people dine out becuase they have the impression that resto food is somehow unavailable to the home cook. Prime Rib and Fillet are good examples. Nobody I know would think to roast a rib at home, even if it would be better if it hadn't been held for hours and hours. Does this bother some of you guys? I remember that Prime Rib was about the easiest thing going back when I was working the line. Slicing off a slab o' the stuff, and maybe tossing it in the jus if somebody wasn't sensible enough to order medium-rare didn't seem a proper exercise of culinary skill to me. Same with fillet. Grill marks? Am I going to go to school to learn grill marks? Goodness, I hope not. Is there anything afoot, do you think, as far as changing this attitude? Going out to eat for some sort of complex experience vs. a rather uninspired requisite rib? (I remember the owner was none to fond of rib, either -- not a lot of profit to be had.) Is going out to eat in the U.S. purely susistive, or is it as much an entertainment as a convienience. I know lots of folks who get upset when their table isn't turned over quickly enough. Goodness forbid you get a chance to pause and digest between courses, let alone linger over coffee before being presented with a bill. I digress.
Joined Jun 9, 2001
mmm, thats interesting. see, my grandparents came from an age where there wasent a lot of money to dine out and they cooked at home. i guess its WHEN you grew up that would influence where and how you would eat.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
My maternal grandmother was the oldest of 11 children and dropped out of school to help her father farm. She still has a garden and still makes pickles out of all kinds of shtuff. She travels with produce< not unlike her granddaughter>
My paternal grandmother was around when I was very young and shelled fresh peas, made dressed up jello salads, burnt sugar ice cream .....those are the few memories I had of her.
Joined Nov 14, 2001
In my opion yes the number of people has increased but u have to understand history. What year was the baby boomer generation from? Now there are more people retiring faster than ever and they all eat out cause it's easier. The population is still growing and unfortunately this is y they say we are in for a shortage of employees soon , oh boy i can't wait :eek: :chef:
Joined Mar 26, 2002
Those are very interesting questions kate.....

Well, with the experiences I have, I have to say that my family hardly go out to eat. When I was young, both of my parents work so we would have food on the table for dinner when we come home from school. My mom would cook us dinner during the morning before she goes to work. So I kinda have homecook food when I was growing up, except it still needs to be microwave. Anyhow, as I got older, I eat out more during the weekends with my friends. But I rarely go out to eat today except maybe on weekends with some friends. Sometimes we would go for late night munchies instead of dinner. So I guess dining out all depends on how you grow up and the environment you are in.
Joined Mar 30, 2002
Thanks for all of your help it has been great. But continuing my research I have a few more questions that I need or and collecting answers for. If anyone has any views or answers to these following questions. A reply would be very helpful.

1) What do you believe the reason is that people eat out?

2)What age group (elderly, parents and middle aged or teenagers) and what time is most popular for to eat out (lunch, tea)?

3) Do you have a preference to eating out or at home?
- what does this depend on?

4) Has eating out during your life changed?
- and for what reason?

(there might still be some more questions later, Sorry)


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
Many news outlets in the US have run articles on this phenomenom. It seems that in the US there is an increase in what has been termed meal replacements. Delis in supermarkets supplying easy dishes to take and eat at home. More takeout foods from restaurants. The home-chefs who cook you a week of meals and freeze them for you to reheat.

This is mostly about time in the upper middle class who have the disposable income to support the added cost of convenient food yet of some decent quality.

Try a search at big news vendor on the term "meal replacement".

Joined May 26, 2001
Kate -- Some answers to your new questions:

They get hungry, and have been unable or unwilling to carry food with them. I know this sounds kind of smart-a**, but why else, basically? Oh, sure, it's a treat; they don't feel like cooking, or don't know how, or don't have the facilities. But at heart, it's that they're hungry. Birds gotta tweet, folks gotta eat.

This one I can't guess. I'd make a table with age group along one axis, and meal-time along the other, and add up all my research.

Depends on a lot of factors:
- whether I'm home or out around a mealtime (this is usually before/after I go to some event);
- how do I feel physically/mentally -- do I have the energy, do I want to be taken care of?
- whether I want to spend the money, or not (if not, we eat at home)
- what are my husband's preferences; sometimes I would just as soon eat at home, but he wants to go out, so we go out.

YES, and for both better and worse. Better: a wider range of available cuisines, in a wider price range. Worse: more crappy stuff available (McDonald's and all that) that keeps people from eating real food. On the whole, though, I think it's better.

These are only MY opinions, but I hope they help.
Top Bottom