The Snackification of Mealtime

There was a time, when if you were asked as a child, “Do you want a snack?”, it was a reference to a light in between meal portion of food to tide you over; to create an energy ‘bridge’ to your next meal. That universally understood phrase is taking on new meaning and being redefined by a new generation.

Most Americans are becoming snackified. 18 to 35 year olds who account for nearly ¼ of the total U.S. population are causing consumer shelf space to be gobbled up.

Millennials, just too busy to eat a sit-down meal much of the time can’t be bothered to cook. According to data collected by Welch’s Global Ingredients Group and conducted independently by Surveygoo last month, mealtime and snack time have merged. Half of those surveyed are said to replace a meal with a snack approximately four times per week, while 26% snackify meals up to seven times a week.

The survey says…

92% of this consumer population admitted to seeking a snack instead of breakfast, lunch or dinner at least once a week.

Wayne Lutonski, VP International of Welch Foods said, “The survey quantifies and expands on what we already suspected: the replacement of meals with snacks among millennials is widespread. These consumers need their snacks to be convenient for their busy lives

48% of millenials eat snacks at work and 34% in the car.

The survey also shows that millennials in the US prefer whole food ingredients including whole grains, real fruit pieces and nuts. Young consumers, regardless of their perceived penchant for nuggets, junk food and coffee concoctions on college campuses are impacting the selection and production of healthier snacks in a colossal way.

As these influencers are skipping more traditional meals, they continue to look for nutrition and energy to sustain them through the day. Snacks that can fill the potential nutritional space occupied by traditional morning, noon and night meals are experiencing major growth, including grab-and-go yogurts, fruit and nut bars, vegetable and bean snacks and portable dips and blender-style packaged drinks.

Just as consumer’s hunger for healthier options rises, retailers are responding by positioning snack items as health-filled meal options. Nielson, a global data analytics company that monitors global consumer habits and market trends did a 2017 survey revealing that on-the-go produce snacking is a billion dollar industry and growing. This produce sub category includes items intended for single serving, single sitting consumption such as pre-cut fruit and veggies, dried fruit and nut mixes, blender drinks and fruit cups.

While fruit owns the major part of those snacking dollars, fresh smoothies and fresh fruits and vegetable snacks packaged with dips, cheese, mixed veggies and nuts is helping drive explosive growth in the produce snacking section.

Millennial, vegan and Olympic gold athlete Meagan Duhamel kept her energy up throughout her competition at the 2018 Oympic Winter Games in PyeongChang eating trail mixes, coconut yogurt, bananas, apples, crackers and fruit squeezes.

Where to go once you leave the produce aisle to gather snacks worthy of space on your plate?

The chip aisle is now packed with plant-based protein in the form of PULSES — beans, peas and lentils — nutrient dense, edible seeds providing a low-fat source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. All of these count towards recommended daily portions of fruit and vegetables. Pulses are easily substituted for refined carbohydrates.

Bean chips paired with healthy dips: salsa, guacamole and hummus pack a high fiber, plant protein punch.

Crackers and chips are marching to the ‘beet’ of a better-for-you snack. Top’em, dip’em or snack on them with a warm bowl of soup or a sandwich.

The sandwich no longer has to include bread at mealtime either. Try rolling your preferred protein source between large lettuce leaves with sliced tomato for an energy overhaul.

The hummus category has been reinvented with white and black bean versions beyond chick peas. Pulse products can also be found in the pasta and baked goods aisles.

MOO-VE over Mozzarella String Cheese Snacks

If variety prevents you from seeking out healthier eats, check out the alternative cheese sticks and slices now available in dairy-free options. From smoked Gouda-style blocks sourced from pea protein, to Cheddar-style slices from potato protein, to fresh Italian-style vegan MOZZ (https://miyokoskitchen.com/)from cashews which melts, bubbles and browns like traditional Mozzarella. It’s a whole, renewed food and snack world.

What’s a snackified meal without dessert?

There are plenty of ways to bring more nutrition to the table, even adding a sweet finish to a meal, big or small. This one swaps out the refined sugar and dairy (butter and heavy cream) for four energizing plant-based ingredients.

PLANT PURE CHOCOLATE PUDDING

1 ripe avocado, pit and peel removed

½ to ¾ cup water (start with ½ cup and add more if needed to blend.)

4 tablespoons natural, non-alkalized, raw cacao powder

6–10 medjool dates, pitted (depending on size and sweetness)

Splash of vanilla extract

Combine ingredients in a high performance blender until smooth and then chill.

With the ever growing blurring of the line between snack and meal and a global penchant for nibbling, it’s a good time to take stock of what’s fueling you. If mealtime is not the conventional sit-down with a salad and main dish accompanied by sides, take a closer look at what’s actually going down. Make sure that if you are set on grab-and-go snacks at mealtime, that fullness and satiety are achieved choosing real food that’s loaded with dense nutrition and natural color.

After all, your nutrition decides your productivity level for the day. Give in to the idea that at lunch and every meal, we choose how we will feel and perform based on the vital food choices set before us.

Not in the mood to cook a meal? A spread of simple, quality snacks can have you eating healthy in the middle of an insane day, without even trying.

Find more solutions for ‘snackifying’ meals on my Instagram at http://instagram.com/wholefoodieronna (@WholeFoodieRonna), Pinterest (RonnaCorlin) https://www.pinterest.com/ronnacorlin and at www.RonnaCorlin.com.

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