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Dinner Exemplifies the Differences Among Generations

CHICAGO — Dinner is the meal that most exemplifies the differences between generations, as each group's motivations, needs and wants regarding dinner are as varied as their taste in music, according to a recently released generational study published by The NPD Group.

Millennials, who care about personalization and adding their own touch, want more control and involvement in the foods and meals they eat. Because of this, they have shifted some of their dinner occasions from away-from-home to in-home. They see dinner as an experience and believe playing a part in the cooking process equates to "cooking from scratch," according to NPD's A Generational Study: The Evolution of Eating.

Conversely, baby boomers, many of whom are empty nesters or face health conditions, are shifting some of their dinner occasions from in-home to restaurants.

"A counterintuitive shift is taking place when it comes to eating behaviors that defies traditional aging patterns, and the dinner meal is an example of this shift," said David Portalatin, vice president, industry analysis, The NPD Group. "Millennials and boomers answer the 'What's for dinner?' question differently. An understanding of the motivations and needs that drive each group's answer to the dinner question will assist manufacturers and retailers in meeting their needs today and inform the future."

As for what people actually cook in-home, millennials have been incorporating more side dishes into their dinners over the last decade. However, this gain has been offset by baby boomers decreasing their side dishes.

Homemade cooking has stabilized after decades of decline due to this increased interest in cooking among young adults, according to NPD's findings. In addition, center-of-plate proteins have rebounded among kids, teens and young adults, while older adults are consuming less. 

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