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”

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”

Healthy eating in Hawaii??? You have to work hard to search it out

My wife recently put together a winter vacation for us that had been a dream of mine for about 40 years — going to Hawaii. I’d been there, alone, in the early 1980s and loved it, vowing at the time to go back someday with someone I would want to share it with.

That’s exactly what I did with my wife in January. But there’s been a major change for me since 1981, my heart issues. And that complicated our eating while there for almost two weeks.

Fast food in Hawaii is inevitably salty and fatty. SPAM on rice anyone? It’s a popular sushi option there as is breaded fish of all kinds, tacos or all kinds and poke, which is highly salted fish. So we had to work hard to find healthy alternatives.

I had expected more fresh fish and fruit, which I remembered from my last visit. We had to search that out, most often in more expensive restaurants. We found some great meals, but had to pay $100 a couple and up for them (and we don’t drink alcohol very much so that was usually without drinks).

I’ll be blogging about our meals the next few days, come read about them. Here’s a tease, a beet salad and sashimi plate I had at Duke’s at the Marriott resort on Kauai.

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”

A vacation breakfast challenge — avoid the pastry

Vacation eating is always fraught with tension for anyone concerned about their salt, saturated fat and sugar intake. It becomes even more of a challenge in a country like Italy with all its wonderful gastronomic creations.

I’ve been vacationing in southern Italy and trying to stick to simple seafood dishes for dinner, but breakfast presents its own challenges. Continue reading “A vacation breakfast challenge — avoid the pastry”

Costco says bye, bye to chocolate frozen yogurt, I say #byebyeCostco

Costco shopping followed by a meal there has been a regular Thursday ritual for me since at least 2006, first for shopping and dinner at its food court and, since I retired in 2015, for Thursday shopping and lunch.

Costco’s food court frozen yogurt swirl, consisting of fat-free vanilla and fat-free chocolate frozen yogurt, is one of the few dessert treats I can reasonably eat on my heart-healthy restricted diet.

What had been my weekly Costco lunch is no more. Who dumps chocolate from the vanilla-chocolate combo? Shame on you Costco.
What had been my weekly Costco lunch is no more. Who dumps chocolate from the vanilla-chocolate combo? Shame on you Costco.

That’s why I was shocked and despondent this past Thursday when I went to order my usual lunch, a salad and a twist of frozen yogurt, only to be told Costco was no longer selling chocolate frozen yogurt at the food court!!!

A little online research found others already have posted about this, apparently the former $1.39 frozen yogurt twist is being replaced by a bowl of frozen acai sherbet with berries and granola for $5.99!!!!

Obviously Costco is trying to appeal to Millennials, who are not shopping there now, with this new offering.

It’s also trying to do it on the cheap by making the new sherbet in the machines that had made the chocolate yogurt rather than bringing in new equipment so it could be offered it in addition to the chocolate yogurt (the vanilla will stay on the other side of the same frozen dessert making machines). Continue reading “Costco says bye, bye to chocolate frozen yogurt, I say #byebyeCostco”

Another look at what to eat at restaurants

Almost all restaurant food is awash in salt, far and sugar, so eating out is a challenge for anyone concerned about their heart-health. I’ve created a page of options for eating out that I’ve found, but I’m always on the lookout for other advice. Cooking Light magazine recently ran this piece, These are the Healthiest Meal Choices at 35 Popular Chain Restaurants.

This is what a Costco food court Caesar salad looks like when you unwrap it, a giant cup of fat-filled Caesar dressing and a mound of high-salt, high-fat grated cheese
Stick to salad when eating on the run, and take out the high-fat dressing and cheese. Always carry your own oil and vinegar packets to use instead.

Keep in mind, healthiest doesn’t necessarily mean healthy, it just means least bad.Still, if you find yourself stuck at a Boston Market or an Au Bon Pain, for example, this list may help you.

I was intrigued that the McDonald’s choices didn’t include a salad without the dressings, which are loaded with salt. I always carry my own oil and vinegar so I’m not tied to any dressing served by a restaurant.

More advice on what’s healthiest to order at McDonald’s

McDonald’s is everywhere across the United States, so chance are you’ll find yourself in one for a meal from time to time even if you’re on a low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar diet. I actually go to a local McDonald’s once a week, getting a salad and bringing my own oil and vinegar packets so I don’t use the high-salt Paul Newman dressings.

A McDonald's breakfast platter my mother once loved.
A McDonald’s breakfast platter my mother once loved.It didn’t make the healthy breakfast list on MyFitnessPal.com

And I’ve written before about what nutritionists recommend there. So I was interested to see a story from Myfitnesspal.com headlined What’s the Healthiest Thing to Eat at McDonald’s? Continue reading “More advice on what’s healthiest to order at McDonald’s”

Say it ain’t so Naf Naf Grill. Did you add salt and fat?

I wrote an enthusiastic post about the relatively new fast food chain Naf Naf Grill back in 2014 when I discovered the low-salt content of its pita bread and the low-fat content of its beef in a pita offering. I’ve been touting it to friends and family ever since.

The menu board from a Naf Naf Grill location in Niles, Ill. Other outlets have slightly different offerings.
The menu board from a Naf Naf Grill location in Niles, Ill. Other outlets have slightly different offerings.

So I was shocked and dismayed recently when I checked it’s site and found the numbers have changed drastically for the worse. I’ve written Naf Naf and posted on its Facebook page to get answers but haven’t heard a word yet, very poor customer relations. Continue reading “Say it ain’t so Naf Naf Grill. Did you add salt and fat?”

A WordPress.com Website.

Up ↑

2ND ACT Players

Intimate theater showcasing emerging talent

a2eternity

An honest look at living with bulimia.

Loving Leisure Time

This is how I spend my quality free time...

MY LITTLE ROCK

Recipes From My Little Reliable Organised Cooking Kitchen

Cooking Up The Pantry

Feeding a hungry family!

The Little Home Kitchen

Big living from a small space

The Basic Life

Balance your body and your life with the alkaline lifestyle.

Italian Home Kitchen Blog

Italian Home Kitchen Blog

Fat2Fab

By: Raquel Moreira

Hipsters And Hobos

Food, foraging, recipes... simple, cheap & stylish... ideal for hipsters or hobos

Dietwise

Expert dietary advice from a registered dietitian and nutritionist

Emerging Adult Eats

Food for folks who have yet to figure it all out

arlynnpresser

Just another WordPress.com site

Compartiendo Mi Cocina

Sharing My Kitchen

Aromas and Flavors from my Kitchen

"Home is where the Hearth is"