Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Most consumers’ eating routines are still defined by breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Consumers adapt their mealtime priorities to fit their needs, which vary by individual, household, and even by the day. Key needs include getting everyone fed, health and wellness, pleasing all palates, social connection, and enjoyment of food/cooking. Here’s a look at some key insights into three of these mealtime priorities through the week from our Transformation of the American Meal 2017 report.

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Today

Consumers today shape their meals around key priorities, which are related to but not synonymous with aspects of the ideal meal. The common themes represented in the following three tables on three key priorities (getting everyone fed, health & wellness, and pleasing all palates) are not mutually exclusive but are broadly additive in that they encompass more of the ideal, moving from left to right. Households’ emphasis on different priorities shift, depending on the meal, day, and other factors.


The most functional and routine meal of the day, breakfast is typically focused on quick, often portable options that provide nutritious, lasting energy. However, many consumers make up for their functional weekday routines with an occasional indulgent weekend breakfast that provides the satisfaction of the ideal meal.

Mealtime priorities and strategies breakfast


Also routine and functional, lunch is the meal most likely to fall victim to snacking. Lunch needs follow less of a pattern than breakfast, as consumers adjust to emotional, social, or other needs that come up through the week.

Mealtime priorities and strategies lunch


If consumers are going to cook a meal and eat it with others, it is most likely dinner. Dinners tend to be planned further in advance, with multiple priorities at play.

Mealtime priorities and strategies dinner

How Do Americans Eat?

We have two important resources for you to obtain the most in-depth data, insights and analysis on Americans’ eating needs and desires.

Report: Transformation of the American Meal 2017

Hartman Eating Occasions Compass

The Hartman Eating Occasions Compass resource was built to fill an unmet information need, providing foundational numbers and insights about the basics of eating in America. Compass measures food consumption using survey methods specifically designed to reveal market opportunities obscured or distorted by other industry and government resources. To learn more about our Eating Occasions Compass capabilities and deliverables, contact: