Joan Horbiak sees the handwriting on the kitchen wall.
Ms. Horbiak, a registered dietitian and consultant for corporate health promotions programs, predicts by the year 2000, Americans will be limiting their cooking to weekends. Trucks will be equipped with kitchens to deliver evening meals. And more chefs will be developing healthful dinners to be sold at grocery stores for a quick reheat at home.
Ms. Horbiak, a national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, said many of her predictions are driven by demographics that include more women in the work force, an aging population, higher household incomes and an increased ethnic population.
"By the year 2000, 84 percent of the women in this country will be working," Ms. Horbiak said.
That will increase the discretionary income families have to spend on food. And, because time constraints will be even greater than today, money will not be considered as important as convenience.
"Cooking by the year 2000 will be like knitting a sweater is today," Ms. Horbiak said, noting that the kitchen stove will also be a thing of the past.
Also, what cooking is done at home will just as likely be done by the man as the woman.
When it comes to entertaining at home, don't be surprised to see a group sitting down to dinner, each eating different foods. Single-serving, portable foods that are delicious, quick and nutritious will be the popular way to entertain.
While fast meals will be a priority in 2000, so will good nutritional practices for children. "Nutrition will be a family affair," Ms. Horbiak said, noting that lower-fat foods will be more a part of society then than now. She said those lower-fat foods will be accomplished by food engineering. Meat will be leaner, as will poultry.
"We may have tomatoes that won't soften, beans that don't cause gas and grow decaffeinated coffee beans," Ms. Horbiak said. The structure of oranges could change to eliminate the white membrane covering the fruit. Now food engineers are working to create a cauliflower and broccoli blend. "Rice and grains may be complete proteins. There are lots of possibilities," Ms. Horbiak said.
Because Americans will be more health-conscious by the year 2000, alcohol-free beers and wines will be more popular than ever. Expect to see increases in mineral waters and fruit juice/mineral water mixes, too, Ms. Horbiak said.
A growing ethnic population is also going to affect what you eat 10 years from now. Expect to see more Oriental, Mexican and Italian take-home meals available in grocery stores. Ditto for restaurants.
Expect to see more family restaurants, too, Ms. Horbiak said. Meals served in restaurants will be lower in fat as more chefs work with dietitians and the food industry to create healthful menus.