NEW YORK — “What’s for dinner?” Don’t ask — over half of Americans think this question is actually one of the most stressful things they’ll encounter in a day.
A survey of 2,000 people found that Americans’ weekly diet generally consists of five home-cooked meals, three leftover meals, three takeout meals, and three meals out at restaurants. Forty-six percent of respondents say they’ll turn to leftovers because it’s just easier than having to cook and 32 percent add affordability seals the deal, so they don’t have to go out and buy anything. While 72 percent of Americans identify themselves as pro-leftovers, the rest say they don’t like to eat them or never eat them.
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Bosch home appliances, the survey also found that 61 percent are chowing down on leftovers more than ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Half opt to eat leftovers from a home-cooked meal or from takeout the most frequently and 42 percent use meal prepping techniques, so they have leftovers on a regular basis.
What makes a good leftover meal?
Over half believe a key factor is how recently the food was made, followed by how it smells (46%) and where the food is from (46%). For 41 percent of Americans, “reheatability” is a key factor that would incentivize them to eat more leftovers.
“Using a steam oven can retain nutrients, moisture and the original integrity of your food so your leftovers always come out fresh and flavorful,” says a spokesperson for Bosch home appliances in a statement. “Or, if you’re in a hurry, reheat leftovers on an Induction cooktop for fast and precise reheating to ensure your leftovers don’t have any cold spots, and for easy cleanup.”
What foods are the best leftovers?
Soups top the list at 79 percent, with pizza (63%), meat (62%), pasta (60%), and rice (55%) rounding out the top five. Over half of respondents believe Chinese food takeout (53%) and roasted potatoes (52%) are leftover-worthy foods. Another 47 percent even think tuna and egg salads are worthy enough to save for later.
The two foods that respondents feel both positively and negatively about being good leftovers are avocados and guacamole. A third think avocados are a no-go for leftovers, but 34 percent think they would be good enough to save. Guacamole seems to have a slightly better chance of making it to a second meal, with 36 percent saying it’s a good leftover in comparison to 30 percent who think it’s a bad choice. Eggs and sushi are by far the worst things to keep as leftovers, with 42 percent and 33 percent saying this, respectively.
Outside of the 12 percent who “never” eat leftovers, many Americans save food with the intent of eating it as a leftover meal. Sixty-three percent always keep leftover food whether it would be a good leftover or not when ordering takeout and 65 percent take this into consideration when whipping something up at home.
The study also suggests that eating leftovers is key to helping Americans lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Over half (56%) believe this was the top sustainable practice they uphold in their kitchen, followed by limiting food waste (55%).
“Sixty-one percent of people believe they would waste less food if their fridge had more useful storage capacity,” the Bosch home appliances spokesperson adds. “To help Americans make the most of their leftovers and limit their food waste, it’s imperative that their refrigerator is equipped with customizable organizational details and freshness features.”