Dinner at Home? Surely You Jest

Family A bickers as all its members chew their way through an ineptly home-cooked meal of unhealthy foods. Family B has one member eating sandwiches with her prayer group and another dining out with lifelong friends as the homebodies enjoy a fascinating chat about Proust while eating deliciously prepared organic food. In the crude social statistics, the As would show up as a family eating at home together (good) while the Bs would be yet another modern family failing to do so (very, very bad). Keep this in mind as you consider the findings of a recent ORC International survey about families’ preferences for their weekend dining. As you can see from the chart here, a majority of adults are happy to let someone else do the cooking (and, often, the cleaning up). This may have as much to do with growing prosperity as with growing familial dysfunction. In fact, that hunch is supported by a breakdown of the data by income. In households making less than $50,000 per year, the home-cooked dinner is preferred to a restaurant meal by 52 percent to 35 percent. In households with a yearly income of $50,000-plus, dining out beats cooking at home by 47 percent to 30 percent. Among those who like to get takeout or have food delivered for a weekend dinner, pizza is the favorite (cited by 43 percent of this cohort), followed by Chinese food (27 percent), fried/rotisserie chicken (8 percent), hamburger or chicken sandwich with fries (7 percent), hoagies/subs (6 percent) and Mexican food (4 percent).