By Breanna Kendrick
A new trend researchers at the University of Florida are noticing is that people are spending more money eating out rather than cooking at home. The average household spends well over $3,000 per year dining out.
According to Nan Jensen, an Extension agent with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in Pinellas County, one of the reasons eating out is on an upward trend is convenience. For some, going home at the end of the work day and preparing a meal is not desirable. Dining out is a lot easier because it eliminates the need for preplanning and grocery shopping.
Dining out can also save time. With the technology we have now, you can order ahead and be in and out in a pretty quick amount of time, says Jensen.
However, there is a concern Jensen has with restaurant dining. “The biggest thing though, depending on the restaurant you go to, there are hidden sources of sodium in foods,” he says. “It doesn’t necessarily taste salty, but there’s sodium in those pre-prepared foods that could put people a little higher in their sodium quotas than they need in a day. That’s another issue that I think people need to be aware of.”
Another factor that comes into play with dining out is food safety. “Hopefully, when you take leftover food home, it won’t be out of refrigeration for too long. And how long you keep that food can also lead to a safety issue or a food waste issue,” says Jensen.
Jensen thinks it’s important to help people realize how easy it is to cook. “The meals I make take 30 minutes or less. They’re pretty simple — normally a meat, a salad, sometimes some kind of starch, and a vegetable, and I’m done,” says Jensen. “I think teaching people, holding classes, and showing them how easy it can be to follow a recipe and cook a meal will reverse the trend of dining out.”
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