Where and when do we eat?

  1. Time Use Survey data on eating out
  2. Looser patterns of mealtimes on weekends
  3. Eating alone and with others
  4. Occasions for eating out
  5. Less time spent at restaurants
  6. Income, age, attitudes and restaurant supply play a role in eating out

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Occasions for eating out

In this section, I will discuss the contexts and special features of eating out. I will draw on an analysis based on the Study on the Trends of Dining at Restaurants. The wishes and needs associated with eating outside the home are different depending on the situation in which people like to or have to eat out. I will discuss separately the way we eat on working days, in our free time and when travelling.

Eating on working days (including meals at schools, student restaurants and day-care centres) usually refers to a lunch that is recurrently taken in the same place. According to the study on the trends of eating out, some 40 per cent of all meals taken at restaurants were work related. The majority of those who ate at work, or 70 per cent, considered this a routine activity that was part of their day. Many also felt that it was easier to go out rather than, for example, bring a packed lunch. They also enjoyed the food at the restaurant of their choice. Food quality was, in fact, a key criterion for selecting a restaurant. The location of the restaurant has, however, become increasingly important in recent years, indicating that we also want the meals we take in our working time to be effortless.

Eating while travelling is associated with commuting (coffee, snacks), longer business trips or holiday travel. At those times we may eat breakfast at a hotel, fast food in the car, or even coffee while travelling on the metro and so on. Kiosks selling food are, consequently, placed at railway or bus terminals, and roadside restaurants built on major roads. Eating on the road considerably increases the proportion of eating outside the home. One respondent out of seven in the study on the trends of eating out had taken the last meal they ate out while travelling for business, and one fifth of meals eaten out in free time were taken while on a holiday.

Roadside restaurants established in connection with service stations typically are places where people stop on a journey to have a meal or a snack. People aged 50 or over and, in particular, those in the retirement age, use these restaurants relatively more than others. On the other hand, they were used less by managers and employees, as well as students. The respondent's place of residence also plays a role: those living in small towns and rural areas had meals at roadside restaurants more often than those living elsewhere. Contrary to what we might expect, people mainly had meals at roadside restaurants between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and the most typical type of meal was lunch. It is possible that roadside restaurants have taken on the role of dining restaurants in the countryside.

Buying and having snacks is also a natural part of eating while travelling. Less than one half (43%) of the respondents in the study on the trends of eating out said they had bought snacks. The most typical reason was that they felt like a snack (32%) or did not have any other options (23%), which presumably means that the respondent did not have the possibility of eating a proper meal. The younger the respondents were, the more often their reason for buying a snack was that they felt like it. Kiosks and delis set up in places frequented by travellers encourage such needs with abundant stimuli.

Eating out in the free time often is an alternative to having a meal at home. Our most common reasons for eating out in our free time differ rather a lot from work-related reasons. Approximately one respondent out of three gave meeting friends or family members as the reason, and about one out of four cited entertaining and extending hospitality, which could be more easily and effortlessly done at a restaurant than at home. A significant share, or one fifth of eating out in the free time, took place while on a holiday.

The greatest changes in eating out in our free time are associated with the higher incidence of eating out at the weekends. Childless couples and those who live alone aged less than 45 eat out the most often, which is consistent with the figures for the previous decades. Childless couples eat out more often than before, as do parents of young children, as well as couples and those living alone aged 45 or over.

Alkuun Edellinen Seuraava


Päivitetty 20.3.2013