Meal prepping has really taken off over the last few years, with social media at least partially responsible for this boom. Health and fitness influencers can gain millions of views for showing off the meals they’ve prepped for the upcoming week, but what does meal prepping look like for the average American? To find out, we surveyed thousands of Americans and asked them if they meal prep, the reasons they do or don’t meal prep, what foods they usually include in any meal prepping, and more!
Which U.S. States are meal prepping the most and least?
Wisconsin is the monarch of meal prep, with 65.5% of our Wisconsin respondents claiming they meal prep at least once per week, but several states weren’t far behind. Over 60% of our Arizona, North Carolina, Oregon, Colorado, New York, Florida, Mississippi, and Minnesota respondents also meal prep at least once a week on average.
On the flip side, one thing that is not bigger in Texas is meal prepping, as close to one-third of our Texas respondents never prepare their meals in advance. The only other state with a percentage above 30% in this category is Nebraska.
A Deep Dive Into Meal Prep Habits
Nearly 9 out of 10 Americans have meal prepped at least once in their life, but only 44% say they currently meal prep on a regular basis.
Sunday is the most popular day for meal prepping, with two-thirds of our respondents saying that’s their meal prep day of choice. But what is everyone prepping? Well, it’s not pancakes or homemade pretzels! According to our results, breakfast and snacks only get prepped about 11% of the time compared to lunch and dinner’s combined 89%.
Analyzing Perceptions Around Meal Prepping
Aiding fitness is a popular reason to meal prep, but how big of a factor is it? According to our results, “eating healthier” and “balancing diet” combine for a total percentage of about 32%. The other biggest reason for meal prepping is saving time, with saving money not far behind that.
So, if meal prepping can help you eat healthier while also saving time and money, why doesn’t everyone do it? According to our survey, meal prep isn’t always the easiest undertaking. Remember that large number of respondents that said they meal prep to save time (about 27%)? Well, about 20% of our respondents also say the time it takes to meal prep once per week is also one of the biggest roadblocks. Sometimes it boils down to choosing between the time you can give in one afternoon or evening or the time you spend cooking or grabbing takeout throughout the week.
Some other concerns surrounding meal prepping are food repetition, potential spoilage, increased grocery costs, and the extra time required for meal planning. A quarter of our respondents even worry that meal prepping can reduce the quality of their meal! However, some of our other respondents that choose not to meal prep just enjoy being able to eat whatever they might be craving on a particular day or cooking various meals throughout the week.
What Are Americans Meal Prepping?
We mentioned earlier that lunch and dinner are meal prepped much more frequently than breakfast or snacks, but what foods are people gravitating toward?
According to our results, poultry is by far the top protein, though lean meats like beef and pork are also popular choices. Rice is by far the top starch, though noodles and potatoes are also present about 15% of the time or more.
Meanwhile, fruits and vegetables are included in meal prep about equally, with berries and citrus fruit putting up a good fight against healthy staples like leafy greens and cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc.). Dairy is by far the least popular food category for meal prep, as meal preppers are about as likely to not prep any dairy at all as they are to throw cheese in with their meals.
Take Home Message
So, are you part of the 44% of Americans that meal prep regularly? Or are you looking to get started? Either way, our blog is full of recipes guaranteed to get you excited, like our delicious chicken satay or vegan lentil bolognese. Or if you don’t fancy prepping, take a look at our range of healthy food and drinks, like our protein bars and protein chips.
We surveyed 3,142 people across America in February 2022, asking them questions about their meal prepping habits. Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont were excluded from the state-by-state portion of the survey results due to insufficient survey respondents.