Reasons Parents Buy Prepackaged, Processed Meals: It Is More Complicated Than “I Don't Have Time”

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Objective To investigate reasons why parents purchase prepackaged, processed meals and associations with parental cooking self-efficacy, meal-planning ability, and home food availability. Methods This secondary data analysis uses Healthy Home Offerings via the Mealtime Environment Plus study data from parents of children aged 8–12 years (n = 160). Associations between reasons why parents purchase prepackaged, processed meals and the outcomes were assessed with chi-square, Fisher exact, and t tests. Results The most frequently endorsed reasons for purchasing prepackaged, processed meals included lack of time (57%) and family preferences (49%). Five of 6 reasons were associated with lower parental cooking self-efficacy and meal-planning ability. Some reasons were associated with less-healthful home food environments; few reasons varied by socio-demographic characteristics. Conclusions and Implications Because lower cooking self-efficacy and meal-planning ability are associated with most reasons reported for purchasing prepackaged, processed meals, strategies to increase these attributes for parents of all backgrounds may reduce reliance on prepackaged processed meals for family mealtimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-66.e1
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study and publication was supported by Grant R01 DK08400 by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the NIH. Software support was also provided by the University of Minnesota's Clinical and Translational Science Institute (Grant 1UL1RR033183 from the National Center for Research Resources of the NIH). The HOME Plus trial is registered with Identifier: NCT01538615. The primary author of this article was also supported in part by the Center for Adolescent Nursing Grant T80-MC00021 (P.I. Bearinger) from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services. The authors thank the following individuals for their input and assistance with the study design and content: Drs Ann Garwick, Marti Kubik, and Dianne Neumark-Sztainer; Ms Olga Gurvich, Colleen Flattum, and Michelle Parke Draxten, at the University of Minnesota; and parents and children participating in the study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior


  • child
  • food environment
  • meal-planning
  • parents
  • processed food
  • self-efficacy


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