Millennial parents are increasingly looking to restaurants to take on the task of cooking for their families, according to a study presented by The NPD Group, Chicago. In fact, Millennials with children increased their restaurant visits by 5% in 2018 compared to the year before, as evidenced in the “Future of Dinner” report. Their visit increase is in comparison to flat traffic growth for the total foodservice industry in 2018, which tracks U.S. consumers’ use of restaurants and other foodservice outlets on a daily basis.  

Millennials overall make the most restaurant visits per capita, despite their visits slowing. As teens and young adults, they influenced the growth of the fast-casual category and the “fresh” movement, and were early adopters of the hottest sauces and an assortment of ethnic flavors. Now, as parents with hectic lives, they’re turning to restaurants for convenience. Their outlets of choice for a family meal are quick-service restaurants, which include fast-casual restaurants. Millennials with kids made 7.3 billion visits to quick-service restaurants in 2018. Dinner is the meal when they are most likely to turn to foodservice, but lunch and morning meals get their share of visits as well.

Where Millennial families choose to eat their foodservice meals or snacks varies, with 46% eaten at home, 30% eaten at the restaurant and the remaining percentage spread out among eating in the car, eating at work, at another location and other places. When at home, Millennial parents will often blend a restaurant item with items they prepared. These types of blended at-home meals are forecast to grow over the next few years.

“Millennials are and will continue to be important to the restaurant industry,” says David Portalatin, food industry advisor. “Not only are they a large generational group, but their attitudes about food and eating, which they’ve taken through life stages, have a tremendous influence on the foodservice industry.”