Meals Just Like Mother Didn’t Make

If the next generation becomes nostalgic for a meal “just like Mother made” they will have to go to the supermarket and pick up several packages of pre-cooked items. Moms are cooking less and less.

President of The NPD Group’s North American food and beverage unit, Mark East, told Food “The fast and hectic pace of the lives we lead has had the single greatest impact on this country’s eating behaviors. It’s clear by the changes we’ve observed over the past 30 years that the Google generation wants things now.”

In particular, the organization found that 72 percent of main meals were prepared at home from scratch in 1980, compared to 59 percent today. And the number of food items used to make those meals has declined too – from 4.44 to 3.5.


European moms are also running out the door instead of staying in the kitchen. According to Datamonitor, a consumer products database, strong retail growth for convenience food products, with cereal bars and ready meals showing the greatest increase in demand.

The analysts said that across Europe, sales of sports and energy bars and breakfast replacement bars are predicted to grow at an annual rate of 12 per cent.

Fish-based ready meals, Datamonitor experts predict will experience the greatest increase in this sector, with an annual growth rate of 11 per cent.

There is increasing scope for launching innovative on-the-go products as people lead increasingly busy lives.

I admit that about once a week when deadlines and family demands impact my time. I will rush into a “health food” supermarket and pick up pre-washed salad, pre-washed spinach, pre-cooked chicken, and pre-cooked rice.  I should know better. The “fresh” produce comes hundreds of miles in trains after being doused with pesticides and handled by numerous other people.  A Chicken can be really dangerous injected with hormones and salt water and antibiotics and perhaps contaminated with salmonella— a sometimes fatal bacteria, although the store advertises that the chickens are happily free range and hormone free but who knows? Certainly not the United States Department of Agriculture, the US Food and Drug Administration and the local health officers.

The additives to enhance and/or preserve pre-prepared food are part of the estimated $23 billion food additives market.  Most additives are added to feed our illusions. We want enhanced food because all our lives we have been subjected to beautiful pictures of foods in our magazines, on television and on the Internet.

Are we fooling ourselves by believing the perfect, unblemished produce in the traditional supermarket is healthy for us? Could it because even the worms and bugs are afraid to eat it?

I will re-read the Seventh Edition of my Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives (Crown) and try to follow my own advice: “The less people who handle my food before I do the better. The fewer additives listed or unlisted the safer.”

So if you don’t hear from me for awhile, you’ll know I slowed down my pace and I am spending more time in kitchen cooking from the start and sitting at the dinning room table with family and friends —really enjoying home cooked meals like my mother made. She was a good cook just like her mother and her aunts.