Though the growth in restaurants’ share of the total U.S. food plate has been widely reported in recent years, consumers are, in fact, preparing and eating more meals at home, according to an industry expert.

In a recent blog post, David Portalatin, vice president and industry advisor for food for market research firm The NPD Group, writes that due to a changing workforce, the ease of online shopping, and the boom in streaming entertainment, there are fewer reasons than ever to leave the house.

The most popular place to eat out in America, Portalatin says, is our own homes.

“I do understand the confusion since foodservice spending has been increasing —up 2 percent in the year ending May 2018 — but foodservice spending doesn’t equate to foodservice visits, which were flat in the period,” he writes. “Restaurant visits, whether onsite, drive-thru, or ordered for delivery, are more indicative of foodservice growth than spending.”

Foodservice spending is up primarily because the cost of a restaurant meal is increasing faster than the cost of a home prepared meal, Portalatin says. Additionally, a restaurant meal has historically cost more than an in-home meal, typically as much as three times more. 

“Although there are certainly pockets of growth in the foodservice industry, since the recession the industry remains challenged to get people out of their homes to eat,” he writes. “In our daily research of U.S. consumers’ eating behaviors, we consistently show that four out of five meals are prepared at home, and although the relationship of in-home prepared meals versus those sourced away-from-home has been stable for a few years, we still prepare more meals at home than we did a decade ago.”