Home Cooked and Healthy: America’s Positive Eating Trends

photo by Mike Haller via Flickr 

A transition to home-cooked meals may be creating healthier and more food-informed adults, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

A 2014 report by the USDA which assessed Economic Research Service data between 2005-2010 indicates that due to factors like decreased food away from home (FAFH) consumption, working adults have adopted eating habits that are healthier for their bodies and their wallets.

Though the trend of cooking food at home has likely been initiated by the economic downturn caused by The Great Recession, there have been some unintended–even positive–outcomes. Below are some of the most encouraging facts about America’s working class eating habits using data from almost 10,000 individuals data over a 5 year period.

From 2006 to 2010 FAFH spending fell by 12.9 percent

Though the share of food expenditures on FAFH rose steadily from 1970 to 2006–jumping from 26 to 42 percent–that trend has come to an end. The USDA shows that FAFH expenditures dropped by nearly 13 percent in just four years.

Also notable in this arena is the percentage of fast-food calories dropped by 1.8 percent from 2006 to 2010, which may be yet another sign of increased health concern.

Eating at home correlates with more family meals

Working age adults with children under 17 reported having more meals with their families as a result of buying less food away from home.

Intake of unhealthy food items has decreased

Consumption of unhealthy food items can be indicted by a decreased and increased intake of:

  • Cholesterol: which has declined by 24 milligrams a day (7.9 percent) since 2006
  • Calories from fat and saturated fats: which has declined by 3.3 and 6 percent respectively
  • Increased fiber intake: which has risen by 7.5 percent since 2006

Health consciousness may be a big driver for families eating at home

The survey reports the respondents’ decreased consumption of FAFH accounts for below 20 percent of the increase in healthy eating habits which may indicate a changing sentiment about nutritional health. To this point, In 2010 42 percent of adults reported using the Nutrition Facts Panel–an 8 percent increase in just one year.

Additionally, more respondents indicated that thinness or fatness is something within their control as opposed to something which is genetically inherited.

Though cost may also have much to do with increased consumption

eating trends


Respondents have reported their diets improving

Along with an increased concern for nutrition, working adults were also more likely to report their diets as good, very good, or excellent, in 2010 comparatively to 2008 in which fair or poor was a more common answer.

One way we measure our success is by the amount of new awareness we deliver. If you could express it as a percentage, how much new awareness did we deliver about this topic compared to what you had before?
James Pero