The evolution of UK dinner trends

Sitting down to a family meal used to be an important part of the day for many families around ten years ago, however, dinner trends have evolved. In 2017, just over 20% of British families  sit down to dinner together just once or twice a week, and one in five have their ‘family meals’ whilst sitting in front of the television. With figures like these, and the price of eating out becoming more affordable and more of a social activity, it comes as no surprise that eating out has become a popular social activity. The question remains, which is more popular: eating in or eating out? Designer and manufacturer of Shaker kitchens, Harvey Jones, investigates:

Who is eating out?

In a recent report, the Business Insider revealed that Millennials eat out more often than any other population group, including the Baby Boomers and Gen X. Over half of Millennials, 53%, are said to eat out at least once a week, with The Independent also revealing that 16-24 year olds spend more on food than any other age group.

It could be argued that Instagram has played an intrinsic role in these statistics — transforming the restaurant industry for Millennials. 87% of 18-29-year-olds actively use social media platforms — with Instagram averaging over 500 million active monthly users. It has now become the norm to snap your food before eating it, and making sure you have an Instagram worthy snap has become hugely popular. For the younger generation, have you even been out for food without takinga photo and Instagramming it?

The platform is used to document where you have been and what you have eaten, which has also led to Instagram being the go-to platform when deciding where to eat. According to research by Zizzi, 18-35-year-olds spend five whole days a year browsing food images on Instagram, and 30% would avoid a restaurant if their Instagram presence was weak — and if their food photos are poor. Some Millennials will only eat at a restaurant if they know they can snap a great food shot.

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Who is eating in?

Despite chain and franchise restaurants offering more affordable meal options, eating in may still be a more attractive choice for families. For families with young children, spending time together is vital for their development and building relationships in the family. Eating dinner together around the table is a time that can be taken advantage of for this, and is said to encourage healthier food choices. In fact, a survey found that 9-14 year olds that frequently eat dinner with their families consumed more fruit and vegetables, as well as less soda and fried foods, whilst figures show that homemade meals can contain as much as 60% fewer calories than meals outside the home.

Meals at home have the potential to be significantly healthier for us. Studies show that when we are presented with more food, we feel the need to eat more. Restaurant portions are continuously expanding, and by eating at home you can control your portion sizes.

71% of teenagers believe the best part of family dinners is talking, catching up and spending time with family members . Social meal times are a great opportunity to get the family together for some quality bonding time. It’s important to make time to spend with your family to ensure healthier relationships between family members.

The rise in popularity of  TV cookery shows has also had a significant influence over British eating habits. We have become a nation obsessed with cooking programmes, which in turn, has contributed to a change in our cooking and kitchen habits. From The Great British Bake Off and Celebrity Master Chef, to Saturday Kitchen and Come Dine With Me, baking and cooking have become ‘cool’ hobbies to have and these cookery programmes help boost our skills.

A cost comparison

Whilst it has been reported that 2017 was the year where the overall cost of eating out was the highest, it doesn’t seem to have stopped people from visiting restaurants and paying the price. However, on the contrary, the rise of informal dining, chain restaurants and pop up restaurants are making eating out more affordable. But how does the price of eating out compare with eating in?

According to Horizons, food service experts, the average three-course meal in the UK across all sectors now stands at £28.59, excluding drinks and gratuity. However, the average price can vary significantly when broken down by region. For instance, central London prices are likely to be significantly higher than prices in the North East. If you were to eat out five times a week, you would expect to pay on average £142.95 per person.

Eating at home, the average cost spent on food per week in the UK is £85.50, based on 2.4 people sharing each household — a significantly lower figure than if you ate out. However, figures for supermarket produce are getting lower, too. Supermarkets now offer an array of money-saving recipes, often partnered with celebrity chefs. Families can no longer claim home cooking is too expensive for a family of four.

Supermarkets now battle against one another to prove they are the cheapest, whilst maintaining good quality. Some supermarkets offer ‘feed four for under £10’ offers which restaurants simply can’t compete with. These money-saving recipes encourage families to utilise their kitchens to their full potential and cook homemade meals instead of eating out or choosing ready meals and takeaways.

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