Snack

The Real Reason Most Americans Don't Eat 3 Meals a Day

Here's what they're doing instead.

October  4, 2018
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Most nights when my roommate comes home, usually around 8 p.m., she doesn’t cook. Instead, she flips on Project Runway and nibbles on what she calls “adult Lunchables”: cheese, crackers, fresh cherry tomatoes, hummus. Sometimes after really long days, it’s actual Lunchables (which, let's be real, are delicious). Maybe it helps that she's a fitness inspiration who just completed an Olympic triathlon last weekend. I only bring this up because it turns out that her tendency to eat "snack meals" is actually the norm for others, as well.

According to a recent survey of 2,000 subjects by OnePoll and FarmRich (admittedly, a frozen snack company), nearly 86 percent of Americans don’t eat three square meals a day. Instead, 49 percent of respondents said they skip lunch in favor of three smaller snacks throughout the day.

Many of the foods that subjects reported snacking on mirror my roommate's habits: cheese, crackers, chips, nuts, deli meat slices, fresh fruit and vegetables. Respondents also shared a preference for frozen snacks, like nuggets and sliders, which can be prepared in the microwave. Which makes sense, because 49 percent of respondents said they turn to "snack dinners" due to the lack of time they have to plan, prepare, and sit down to a meal.

There’s a lot of debate over how many times we should actually be eating in a day. And it's unclear whether or not the trend toward snacking is necessarily good or bad. But one thing that struck me, as I read the report, was that a lack of time in one's day doesn’t necessarily mean microwavable processed food and doesn't need to be the deterrent for eating something homemade.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I usually have a snacks instead of a proper lunch. Something like a cup of miso soup with some tofu, a bit later some raw veggies and pretzels or an apple with nut butter. Late afternoon i’ll have a cup of plain greek yogurt with everything seasoning or some salted sunflower seeds which keeps me full enough i can make a nice dinner for myself after heading home and running and errand or two without being distracted by hangry problems. ”
— Ttrockwood
Comment

So in case you're like me and need to hit the ground running, I’ve gathered up six dishes that only demand 15 minutes of you time. That still leaves plenty of time to watch Project Runway.

Do you eat "meal snacks"? What's a meal you'd never give up (breakfast, lunch, or dinner)? Shout in the comments below!

15 Comments

BerryBaby October 7, 2018
We don't eat a big dinner as iften as we use to so, yes, I do snack dinner. Egg salad on a Triscuit, a slice of deli ham spread with herb cream cheese, banana and peanut butter, fresh carrots dipped in whole milk yogurt...whatever is in fridge has possibility!
 
Author Comment
Katie M. October 8, 2018
Triscuit dinners are my roommate's favorite ;)
 
Ttrockwood October 7, 2018
I usually have a snacks instead of a proper lunch. Something like a cup of miso soup with some tofu, a bit later some raw veggies and pretzels or an apple with nut butter. Late afternoon i’ll have a cup of plain greek yogurt with everything seasoning or some salted sunflower seeds which keeps me full enough i can make a nice dinner for myself after heading home and running and errand or two without being distracted by hangry problems.
 
Author Comment
Katie M. October 8, 2018
Oh, I haven't thought to put salted sunflower seeds on yogurt! Giving that a try!
 
Alyssa October 6, 2018
I never skip any meals (why miss an opportunity to eat?!). I love my quiet breakfast time, usually homemade sourdough toast with avocados or peanut butter and apples. Lunch is a great time to load up on veg, and I always sneak in an apple with peanut butter slices for an after-dinner snack.
 
Author Comment
Katie M. October 8, 2018
haha I'm with you, Alyssa! And we have *so* many apple-pb snackers here at Food52 :)
 
witloof October 4, 2018
I normally eat veg for dinner, but today I had my veg at breakfast and lunch and had a snack dinner! Smoked salmon, runny cheese, olives, cherry tomatoes, and taramosalata on cassava bread. <br />
 
Author Comment
Katie M. October 5, 2018
I love getting veggies in all my meals, too! Plus smoked salmon 🤗🤗
 
Juju October 4, 2018
I usually don't eat until about 11am-12pm. Why? Food just isn't appealing before then. When I do eat earlier, it's always leftovers from the night before. I can't stomach "breakfast" foods. They are for dinner!
 
Eric K. October 4, 2018
Same!
 
Smaug October 5, 2018
Same for me- I start out the day with a strong cup of coffee and the day's news, neither of which is good for the appetite.
 
varelse October 4, 2018
I always called them toddler lunches 😂 I eat them regularly for any meal.<br />Apple slices are almost always included. I love a fun nut butter, like maple caramel almond butter or bourbon pecan peanut butter. <br />Otherwise, whole nuts like salt and pepper pistachios or paprika marcona almonds. Smoked ham or turkey, hard boiled egg. A good Brie, cheddar, pepper jack. Cucumber and tomato slices, baby spinach.<br />Cup of milk.
 
Author Comment
Katie M. October 5, 2018
Ooh, bourbon pecan peanut butter sounds SOOO GOOD
 
Megan G. October 4, 2018
I have 5 meals a day! Breakfast (the meal I can never skip out on!) that's usually an omelette, a mid-morning snack, such as greek yogurt with granola/fruit, usually a salad with some sort of protein for lunch, apple slices with peanut butter for a mid-afternoon snack, and then a not-so-heavy dinner!<br /><br />So I guess I have a little bit of both meals and snacks :)
 
Eric K. October 4, 2018
What’s this omelet you make every morning?? Pls post on Food52.com. See “Add a Recipe” function.