By Adam Frisk, Global News, September 2018

Canadians are increasingly foregoing home cooked grub for quicker, ready-to-eat meals or dining at a restaurant, a new study suggests.

A Dalhousie University survey found nearly 42 per cent of Canadians are either buying ready-to-eat meals or eating at a restaurant once or twice a week, while another 3 per cent admitted to doing so on a daily basis.

While 18 per cent of the 1,019 Canadians who took part in the survey said they never eat out or buy ready-to-eat meals, 33 per cent admitted to only doing so on weekends.

The survey noted that those without children and a lower education are more likely to eat out than those with children and or a post-secondary education.

“Consumers who earn less and are less educated are likely to eat out more often, which could make this demographic group more prone to unhealthy food choices,” Simon Somogyi, associate professor in the Faculty of Agriculture at Dalhousie, noted in the study.

So why are people eating out? They say they don’t have time to cook.

Though 42 per cent of Canadians say they don’t have time to cook during the week, they make an effort on weekends to cook a good meal. The survey noted the majority of Canadians are spending about 30 minutes or less preparing meals at home with only 29 per cent admitting to spending more than a half hour preparing a meal. Meal preparation time is a bit concerning for at least one dietitian.

“That suggests these dinners are part of prepared or half-ready meals. Care for food, mindfulness of food appears to be lacking,” Suzanne Carere, a registered dietitian and director of Nutrition & Wellness, told Global News. “The overarching theme I think here is lack of mindfulness for food or the importance of nutrition overall, that we are just eating to live, to sustain ourselves but we’re not actually putting a lot of care into it.”

However, the dietitian noted some “encouraging” results stemming from the survey. The study showed that 82 per cent of Canadians said they eat breakfast at home compared to the 11 per cent who eat at work and the 7 per cent who eat on the go.

“I’m very encouraged by the fact that large majority of Canadians are at least eating breakfast at home and making their lunches from home,” Carere said.

According to the survey, 72 per cent of Canadians said they bring their lunch to work compared to the 24 per cent who buy lunch on the go.

Carere noted the survey showed that the majority of Canadians eat breakfast alone (67 per cent) and lunch alone (58 per cent), suggesting that some are opting to eat at restaurants to be with others.

“I think people are craving that experience eating with others. Apparently they don’t get it at breakfast and lunch,” Carere said. “But at dinner, it changes. People want to be with others when they eat. Unfortunately for single people or people with really busy lives, that means going to restaurants or ordering in.”

The survey noted that men and singles are more likely to eat dinner at a restaurant every day than women, married, separated or divorced.

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Why Canadians are choosing restaurants over the kitchen