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EAST LANSING, MI -- According to the USDA, 6.1 percent of disposable income is spent on at home food while 5.3 percent of disposable income is spent on food away from home. Both of these numbers have increased from previous years, specifically food eaten away from home, which had a greater increase compared to food consumed at home. These percentages average out to about $358 per person, per month that is spent on food. The majority of food income is being spent on prepared foods and that trend is projected to continue into 2014.
The food trends are following these statistics in 2014 -- especially in grocery store. Stores are starting to take note of these statistics and trying to appeal to consumers by increasing the amount of prepared foods they offer and stock. Some stores are providing "buy and make" areas in the grocery store where consumers can come into the store and prepare their food to be taken home. This includes salads, sandwiches and even entrees for dinner. They can also visit the deli area which traditionally only had meat and salad options, but is now being stocked with hot entrees, salad bars, wraps, fruit salads and even dips and spreads. Additionally, food companies are creating "kits" that can be taken home and assembled with minimal preparation.
Grocery stores are also appealing to the health conscience by putting nutritional scoring and labeling on shelves that provide consumers with a fast and friendly alternative to reading a food label. This includes the systems such as NuVal, which scores food on a scale of one to 100. The higher the NuVal score, the better the nutrition.
So what can you do as a consumer? As a consumer using a grocery store scoring scale, nutritional labeling on grocery store shelves, preparing more food in the home or taking advantage of pre-made selections in the grocery store you can choose a healthier alternative to fast-food and take-out restaurant options. When choosing fast-food and away from the home food options compare the calories, fat and sodium to choose the options that best fits your healthy and active lifestyle.
Michigan State University Extension offers nutrition education classes for adults and youth that includes information on positive dietary lifestyle habits and educate on food preparation and selection. More information can be found at http://msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/info/nutrition.