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Cost Comparison of Ready-Made Meals versus Packaged-Food Component Meals
Keywords:food cost comparison
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Human Nutrition Honors Theses; 2011
This study is embedded within a larger research project gathering 24-hour dietary recall data on 50 Ohio women. In an effort to further explore the primary study’s findings, which link a monthly rise and fall economic pattern to a similar rise and fall caloric intake pattern to high obesity rates in a low SES population, this thesis examines the financial implications of the subjects’ food preparation methods. By addressing the cost effectiveness of the current approach and possible alternatives, this study aims to mitigate these sharp spikes and their confounding impact on obesity. Data examination has shown that many of the subjects regularly eat ready-made meals. For the purposes of this study, ready-made meals are defined as foods whose ingredients are pre-assembled into the final product, require minimal or no cook time in order to fulfill heating or mixing directions, and are intended to be consumed as packaged. Ready-made meals include foods from restaurants and foods that are commercially prepared in frozen or boxed formats. These ready-made meals, however, can also be produced by minimal assembly of their separately sold, packaged-food components. For the purposes of this study, packaged-food components are defined as the individually purchased, but already prepared, ingredients that can be combined to create the equivalent ready-made meal. The construction of meals from packaged-food components requires assembly and some cook time. This thesis compares the economics of ready-made versus packaged-food component meals. Based on unit price per ounce, the cost differentials between to the two categories were evaluated. Through this process, it was determined that the majority of Package-Food Component Meals are less expensive than their comparable Ready-Made Meals. These findings have possible implications for the target population’s financial, personal, and weight related wellbeing.
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