What do Americans have for breakfast, lunch or dinner?

American diets vary dramatically based on region, economics, dietary requirements, and personal taste. I suspect we have more choices than most people in the world.

Breakfast – cereal consumption used to be huge, but is slowing down. Most working people, being rushed, choose fruit and yogurt smoothies or a breakfast sandwich (with egg, sometimes ham and/or cheese), toast or a bagel, or some kind of commercially packaged cereal bar, granola bar, energy bar, or protein bar or supplement. A “full American breakfast” is usually defined as eggs, some kind of fried potatoes, cereal or toast or pancakes, fruit juice, and coffee. This meal can often be found for around $3.00.

Lunch is eaten away from home by school children and working adults, so it’s either packed at home or purchased at lunchtime. A traditional packed lunch involved a sandwich (turkey, ham, tuna, peanut butter & jam, etc.), some fresh fruit, a beverage (usually milk for kids), and something extra (potato chips, a cookie, etc.). Physical laborers require a lot more food, of course, but it may be along the same lines. Those who indulge in fast food at lunchtime get a hamburger or cheeseburger about 75% of the time.

Dinner, in an ideal world, is made at home. It used to be, about 50 years ago, planned around a protein main dish, accompanied by a starch dish and a cooked vegetable. Larger meals might include a salad and bread course first, and a dessert afterward. It’s more common now to make a one-dish meal in the evening, combining protein, vegetables, and starch in one pot, often making double batches so we don’t have to cook every evening. Pasta dishes are popular, we eat a lot of chicken, and just about everybody knows how to toss together an Asian-style stir-fry. It seems like about 25% of the population does not cook regularly, but opts for a restaurant meal, a quick take-out meal like pizza, or a frozen entree from the market that can be microwaved quickly and eaten, many times, straight from the box.

Our eating habits reflect a severe decline in our standard and quality of life, in my opinion.