The Pandemic’s Evolution of Breakfast
If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then the pandemic gave a lot of Americans their important meal back. Prior to the pandemic, 56% of Americans reported being too busy in the morning to make breakfast. Now that many people are working from home, Americans have had the chance to change their eating habits. In 2020, the number of Americans cooking at home increased by 38%.
How do we know more people were eating breakfast during the pandemic? From 2019 to 2020, household consumption of breakfast items grew dramatically. Pancakes increased 25%, bacon 15%, and cereal 11%. For one year of growth, these are significant increases. For all that the pandemic has taken away from people in their daily lives, it has given them one opportunity back: to fit three square meals in a day. 2 in 3 people now make it a high priority to eat breakfast during the workweek.
Breakfast meals aren’t only limited to the morning. Many Americans turned to breakfast items as comfort food, increasing demand through that channel as well. Throughout this increased consumption of breakfast food, people are also changing the type they prefer to consume. Nearly half of Americans started making healthier breakfast selections than before the pandemic.
What benefits do people see in breakfast? The top 3 listed are to satisfy morning hunger, start the day on a better note, and stay full until lunch. From a nutritionist standpoint, the benefits of breakfast are even more widespread. Breakfast foods deliver fiber, calcium, zinc, iron, and vitamins A and C. Controlling hunger early in the day allows people to make better food choices throughout the day as well. Eating breakfast regularly can help lower one’s risk of type 2 diabetes and cholesterol problems. When it comes to mental health, breakfast can help people be more alert, focused, and happy by reducing instances of brain fog. Specifically for students, breakfast before school may help kids achieve higher education outcomes. There’s a lot to appreciate about breakfast!
Despite everything listed above, it’s well known that eating breakfast first thing in the morning isn’t for everyone. Still, most people aren’t skipping breakfast because they are hungry. The most commonly listed reasons for skipping breakfast are lack of time, not feeling hungry, and not having the food available. Moreover, sleep is also a scarce commodity for many Americans. 63% of people would rather have an extra hour of sleep than forcing themselves to get up early and cook breakfast. That number may not even feel like an exaggeration: half of Americans perceive breakfast as the most time-consuming meal to make.
Has the pandemic brought the trend of skipping breakfast to an end? It’s certainly decreased the number of people who do it. Refrigerated heat-and-eat breakfast items are helping fix the time issues discussed above as well. 2 in 5 people are more interested in such items than they were before the pandemic. These products can bring breakfast back to even more people.