Pandemic eating means quick meals and more take-out, study finds

I’ve been blogging for several days about fascinating new research from Influence Central about how the COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted how people eat and cook. Today I’m focusing on what it’s meant for cooking time and take-out behavior.

While people are being forced to eat more at home, they don’t seem to be turning into health-conscious cooks who spend hours each day in their kitchens, the study finds. For example:

  • 46% are willing to spend 15 to 30 minutes cooking
  • 44% will spend 30-60 minutes.
  • Only 23% are willing to devote more time to dinner prep
  • 73% are devoting about the same as prior to stay-at-home orders

Sadly, what this means is many are eating unhealthy meals.

My mix and match fish dinner cooking away, walleye in the white pan, tilapia in the black with peppers and onions in the third.
My mix and match fish dinner cooking away, walleye in the white pan, tilapia in the black with peppers and onions in the third.

“Frozen meals from pizzas to more substantial heat and serve entrees, prepared meals ready to cook from the supermarket, and canned goods such as soups and chili become go-to items,” says Stacy DeBroff, CEO and founder, Influence Central.

“It’s clear that even with more time at home, some people still don’t necessarily want to spend all day in the kitchen,” she says.

All of those choices are normally very high in salt and can be high in fat and sugar as well.

When it comes to take-out:

• 69% of consumers have ordered take-out or delivery food from restaurants during the pandemic.
• 71% order from restaurants they ate in prior to the crisis.
• 87% order take-out from a specific local restaurant out of a desire to support the restaurant financially.
• When it comes to getting food delivered, consumers’ top choice is direct from the restaurant itself (60%). Favorite delivery services: Door Dash, followed by GrubHub and Uber Eats.

“More than half said they have not been concerned to leave the house to pick up food or collect it from a delivery driver,” DeBroff reports.

Influence Central found that the top ordering choices are:

1. Pizza (79%)
2. Fast Food (52%)
3. American and Pub Food (ex. Burgers and wings) (45%)
4. Mexican (39%)
5. Asian (35%)
6. Italian other than Pizza (23%)

Sadly, again, not very healthy choices. Continue reading “Pandemic eating means quick meals and more take-out, study finds”

Happier times — let’s talk about eating in Hawaii

Early this year my wife and I took a long-talked-about dream vacation to Hawaii, spending a week in Honolulu and another week on the island of Kauai. It seems a million years ago now with a pandemic sweeping the globe.

But I hope that reading about wonderful places to eat in Hawaii will brighten some people’s days and turn their thoughts to happier times.

I’ve already written that there’s a lot of junk food in Hawaii, especially in the heavy tourist areas like Honolulu. But there also are some wonderful restaurants featuring fresh seafood.

My Hula Grill dinner.

One we enjoyed was the Hula Grill Waikiki. It’s in a hotel, but much better than the average hotel restaurant. It offers a wide range of seafood option, including nightly specials, and fish you don’t see on the mainland like opah and monchong.

And both mahi mahi and ahi are on the menu, fresher there than you’ll taste on the mainland as well. Pictured here is my dinner, which as I recall was a nightly special, I think of ahi.

Help your local restaurants with a meal Tuesday 3/24

A lot of people have been posting on social media about helping their local restaurants by ordering take-out  and delivery meals. Some of the delivery services are even offering lower or no fees for a few weeks to encourage it.

Now, a large group of national restaurants wants to take the idea across the country with what they’re calling The Great American Takeout on Tuesday, March 24. And yes, of course, there’s a hashtag  #thegreatamericantakeout

Many. many people are out of work right now and likely can’t afford such luxuries, but if you can afford it, ordering from your favorite restaurant with a takeout meal Tuesday is a great way to show support.

I’ve been doing it locally in Evanston where I live with meals from Dave’s New Kitchen and The Celtic Knot, two of my favorite local establishments. Continue reading “Help your local restaurants with a meal Tuesday 3/24”

Ever eat at Corner Bakery? If you’re cutting your salt, don’t

Life can have unexpected consequences sometimes. Since the New Year began, I’ve been on a cleaning and organizing binge, likely because of Japanese-super-organizer Marie Kondo and her new Netflix series. My wife and I even organized our kitchen junk drawer, usually a no-mans-land of forgotten items.

And in that drawer I found I had an old Corner Bakery gift card. Corner Bakery was an early entrant in the fast casual category of restaurants — places that tried to be a cut above hamburger joints and positioned themselves as healthier with fresher ingredients than tradition fast food.

But as always with such claims, the devil is in the details. Or should I say the salt is the devil in the menu? The reason I never finished using my Corner Bakery gift card was because of the high salt content of most Corner Bakery offerings. So I’ve had this card for years with about $7 left on it to spend.

So I visited the Corner Bakery site today to see if by chance its menu has changed from the high-salt offerings I remembered. Sadly, it has not. It does have some very cool nutrition search functions, including one where you build a meal and another where you can rank all the menu items by salt content (or any nutrition content). Continue reading “Ever eat at Corner Bakery? If you’re cutting your salt, don’t”

Ever eat and still feel hungry? This may explain it

Are you full yet? My wife tends to ask me that every time we eat and I usually reply, no, I’m never really full.

Is that really possible or am I just focusing feeling stuffed with being full? As it turns out, apparently you can eat some foods that just leave you feeling hungry. I was intrigued by that idea when I saw this headline 12 Foods That Leave You Hungry  on WebMD, so I clicked through to view the list.

my egg white omelet apparently isn;t filling me up.

Of the foods listed, I eat low-fate yogurt and egg whites regularly on advice from various nutritionists I’ve seen since my first angioplasty back in 2012. And doughnuts, french fries and diet soda are on my regular cheat list as well, so that’s five out of the 12. No wonder I never feel full. Check the list to see how many of your favorites are on it. Two I have cut out since  2012 are white bread and white rice.

Is black pepper the next super food?

I’m always wary of claims that various foods can cure anything or even improve health. The science of how what we eats impacts us is still too primitive and too general for my taste. Case-in-point is this story I read recently about black pepper.

Find a spice store that will create salt-free blends for you
Find a spice store that will create salt-free blends for you

For someone trying to cut salt from their diets, pepper becomes a go-to flavoring It’s usually available when eating out, for one, and it’s tasty without being spicy hot which I tend to shy away from. So I’m using more pepper in my cooking.

But this Time article says black pepper could aid digestion and have other health benefits as well. It also can counter-act some carcinogens in charred beef (barbecue fans take note).

I hope all that is true, but for now, I’ll just use black pepper because I like the taste. If you have a local spice shop, ask for a salt-free mixture of various peppers as I’ve done to get some variety of flavor.

Have some bad eating habits? Here are ways to break those

Bad eating, binge eating, eating lots of sugar, salt and fat — all are ways to say we have bad eating habits.

Like to over-eat? Try this quiz that may help you break that and other bad habits.

A new year is always a good time to resolve to break such bad habits, it’s a fresh start after all, isn’t it?

So try taking this WebMD quiz on how to break bad habits. Some of the answers it gives (you have to answer questions and then get told if you gave the right or wrong answer, may surprise you. The correct answers will give you tips on how to best break bad habits.

 

Be salad smart when eating out

See the word salad on a menu and you assume it’s got to be the healthiest thing on there, right? Wrong, unfortunately. Restaurants love to load up salads with any and every unhealthy thing, like fried foods, to destroy the basic salad.

You're left with a relatively healthy salad with chicken.
You’re left with a relatively healthy salad with chicken.

WebMD recently ran this guide on what to avoid in restaurant salads.  Basics you should already kn0w — avoid creamy dressings, croutons and lots of cheese on a  salad, they’re all fat bombs waiting to destroy your insides.

Olive oil and vinegar is the best dressing option. I now carry my own with me because I’m continually surprised how many places don;t offer that as an option.

Sadly, one option I do like, dried cranberries, is on the bad list here because of the amount fo sugar in dried fruit. Bye cranberries. Continue reading “Be salad smart when eating out”

Meals to avoid when eating out

Restaurant food generally is a minefield of fat, salt and sugar so as tasty as it might seem, it’s best to avoid it as much as possible when you’re trying to eat something resembling a healthy diet.

Check my Eating Away from Home page for some of the least unhealthy alternatives I’ve found at various restaurants. And if you want to know what to avoid, this article, These are the most unhealthy meals in America, ranked is a good place to start.

Chicken parm pizza style? Really. Avoid it.

On the list:

Chicken Parmesan “Pizza Style” at The Cheesecake Factory. I haven’t eaten at a Cheesecake factory in more than six years, since my first stent went in. Even the salads there are loaded with so much unhealthy stuff they make a mockery of any expectation that  salad will be a healthy choice. This dish totals 1,870 calories, basically a day’s worth. The article doesn’t get into salt and fat but I’m sure it’s mega-artery clogging. Continue reading “Meals to avoid when eating out”

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