A decade ago, having a proper sit-down family meal was an important part of the day. TV off, games put away, wash your hands, and come and sit at the table. But that tradition seems to be dying out – in 2017, just over 20% of British families would sit down for a meal together once or twice a week, with one in five having their meals in front of the television. Between this and the price of eating out becoming cheaper and cheaper, it’s no wonder that eating out is on the rise.
So, is eating in losing to eating out? Alongside Shaker kitchens manufacturer Harvey Jones, we investigate the UK’s eating habits.
The case for eating out
Business Insider reported that Millennials eat out more frequently than any other generation group, including Gen X and the Baby Boomers. 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.
Instagram may well have contributed to this Millennial change. 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 taking a photo and Instagramming it?
As the platform is a favourite for sharing wonderful and beautiful plates of food, Instagram also acts as a vouch for places 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.
The case for eating in
Families still seem to prefer eating in where possible. 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.
Homecooked meals tend to be more healthy too. 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.
In terms of the benefits of a family meal, 71% of teenagers agree that the family dinner is the best place to talk and spend time with family. 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.
TV cookery shows have risen in popularity too, which may have influenced our eating trends. 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.
The cost between them
Though eating out is still the higher cost, people seem happy to pay 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?
Food service experts, Horizons, showed that the average three-course meal (without drinks and gratuity) costs around £28.59 in the UK. 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.
As for eating in with the family, the average weekly cost comes in at £85.50 (based on a household average of 2.4 people), which is a considerable saving compared to eating 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.
There’s fierce competition for supermarkets to be the cheapest, yet good-quality, option. 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.