What Millennials & Gen Z Really Eat, In 5 Stats

What are young consumers eating in a typical week? We looked beyond food trends to find out about their actual eating habits, from the meals they’re missing to the food they really want.

We’ve talked about the food trends Millennials are interested in, and how food is a passion for both generations, but the reality of young consumers’ day-to-day dining isn’t all food trucks and rainbow smoothie bowls. Though social media has made food a pop culture phenomenon, it’s of course also a series of daily decisions, plates grabbed on the go, meals cooked after work or leftovers eaten at desks, and at school. The majority of the food they buy and eat isn’t a glamorous Instagram shot—so beyond the trends and foodie interests, we continue to keep tabs on what Millennials and Gen Z really eat. (Including their favorite food brands, which include some college dorm staples.) Our most recent cooking and food trends survey included questions on the meals they have regularly and the foods they’re having on a typical day. Here are five stats from that research to give you some clues about how young consumers really eat today:

1. Only a quarter of Millennials & Gen Z eat three meals a day.

Three square meals a day is not a reality for the majority of young consumers, with our data showing that only 25% of 13-34-year-olds are eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a typical weekday. Males 13-34-years-old were far more likely than females to say they eat all three. The most popular meal among all groups is dinner, and breakfast is the least, with less than three quarters saying it’s a typical weekday meal for them. Interestingly, on the weekend, the number who eat lunch and breakfast actually drop while consumption of nighttime snacks, dessert, and brunch increase. 

2. Three in four Millennials & Gen Z…


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The Newsfeed

“There are alleys with street art that I've walked out of my way to take pictures of to share on Snapchat/Facebook.”
—Female, 32, IL

Mattel’s new toy franchise Enchantimals is inspired by Instagram and Snapchat filters. The new line of 14 dolls are all half-animal—think the bunny and deer filters—and each “shares a ritual trait with her animal friend.” Their origin and the YouTube series starring the girls are no doubt a part of Mattel’s “five-pillar strategic plan” to be a more digital brand. Appealing to Millennial parents and their kids has been a tough sell for Mattel, but they’re making moves like changing up Barbie’s body type and asking kids to pick the next big toy on TV to keep up with the next generation. (Kidscreen)

Harry Potter fans, raise your butterbeers up, because this franchise and its fandom will never die. Two more books from the Harry Potter universe are hitting shelves this fall—though they aren’t actually written by J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter: A History of Magic and Harry Potter: A Journey Through A History of Magic are instead both written by the British Library, to coincide with an exhibition dedicated to celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the first book. The two new works will include “exclusive manuscripts, sketches and illustrations from the Harry Potter archive,” to delight serious fans of the series. (USA Today, New York Times)

Restaurants are being designed with Instagrammability in mind. From unicorn foods to neon signs and tile floors with hidden messages, restaurateurs aren’t just tolerating Instagrammers, they’re intentionally acting as “Instagram bait” to earn some free press. And it doesn’t end at Instagrammable design touches. Many restaurants stress having perfect lighting, and one even provides “Instagram packs” at customer request, consisting of “a portable LED light, multi-device charger, clip-on wide-angle lens, tripod, and a selfie stick.” (The Verge, Grub Street)

Some student loan debt is getting “wiped away” in court because of missing paperwork. Students defaulting on their private loans are getting taken to court by aggressive creditors, but as it turns out, many don’t have the required documents to make them pay up. National Collegiate is at the center of many of these trials—one lawyer in Iowa represented 30 cases brought on by them, and 27 were dismissed because of “critical omissions or flaws” in the paperwork. Some Millennials prioritizing paying back debt might just catch a lucky break. (New York Times)

Millennials want older generations to know why they stand by political correctness. While some may despair the overly PC state of the world, many young consumers see political correctness as protection from prejudice, and a show of respect. What some may view as an over-sensitivity epidemic, many Millennials see as “being morally minded.” Ypulse’s PC Police trend tackled this topic, and found half of 13-33-year-olds would describe political correctness as treating others with respect, and 66% agree that political correctness is one way to make culture kinder and more inclusive. (Business Insider)

 “I’m too lazy to exercise on purpose. Too much work…If I can't get it with my dog, my job, or my nightlife, it ain't happening.”
—Female, 23, CA

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