What Food Packaging Says About Your Eating Habits?

Posted on Aug 13 2014 - 8:45am by Kate Critchlow


When it comes to shopping there are a number of things we take into consideration for the foods we buy, because we know what we like from our food. The more you know about a person the more you can tell about what sort of foods they like. What about the other way around? Have you ever considered that your choice of products off the shelves says something about the sort of person you or your eating habits are?

Well, it isn’t an exact science, but then again, social sciences never are. Though it certainly can make for an amusing topic of conversation.

There are a number of ways you could categorize eating habits, taking into account the sort of person, diet, lifestyle and budget that go into selecting the products.

The Student Diet

At some point or another we’ve all experienced this particular selection of eating habits. You head towards the bigger, bulkier packaging with the simpler, cheaper designs. You don’t have a huge amount of money, and you’ve been saving it for Friday night drinking, but you’re hungry a lot more than you used to be when you didn’t have to attend lectures all afternoon. A lot of your food packaging shares similar characteristics.

  • Clear cooking instructions; you checked before you bought it. We all did. There is no point in buying something you don’t know how to cook. And if it tells you that all you have to do is add boiling water or stick it in the microwave for a few minutes then you throw five of them into the basket.
  • Re-sealable; it probably isn’t going to last long no matter what it is; the next time you have to pull an all-nighter to get through your big assignment you’ll be digging just about anything out of the cupboards to keep you going. But you’ll be finding things that you forgot you had ever bought, and you’ll be thanking your lucky stars that they had re-sealable packaging – or you’d probably have rats. My guess is it’s that little bit of our parents we have in us that reaches for the re-sealable packaging after we’ve flown the nest.
  • Container based packaging; your mum maybe used to buy noodles in a bag. Little, plastic, and useless once opened. That’s not what you as a student look for, when you buy noodles you buy them in a pot. Yeah – it takes up more space in the cupboard, but you don’t need a plate, because you can eat them right out of the pot. Pie? In a pot or tin. Curry? In a little plastic tray. Fruit? In a tin. Beans? In a tin, you can eat them cold right out of that. Being a student means that you used up all your dishes weeks ago and haven’t gotten around to washing them yet – and you don’t need to, because you food packaging is the same as a bowl.

The Single People Diet

You’ve grown out of the student diet. Your metabolism no longer quite handles all of the rubbish food you used to eat. You’ve started washing your dishes and you’re more aware of your spending, not because you don’t have money, but because you know that you worked hard for hours on end to get that money and you’re saving it for something important. Regardless of specific circumstances, there are often shared characteristics.

  • Freezer friendly packaging; most foods that are cost effective are provided in family sized portions. You’re just one person, you can’t eat all that. The freezer is one of the most essential items in your home, everything has to go in there because there just aren’t enough of you to eat it otherwise. You look out for that ‘cook from frozen’ symbol, because let’s face it, we know we’ll never remember to get it out to defrost before we leave for work.
  • Tins; you end up cooking too much quite often, and you end up only getting through half of something quite often, because you’re only one person. With left-overs, half a loaf of bread, opened boxes of freeze food, half consumed packs of meat and ice-cream for movie night all tucked up in the freezer not many of us have room for much more, so tinned foods which can be stacked and stored easily and for long periods of time become particularly popular among single people. Jars a less popular, mostly because once you’ve bought a jar of something that looks really good only to realise you need help to get into it you become wary of buying more. As a single woman I can attest to this; I have jars that are sitting in the cupboard almost two months after being purchased, waiting until I remember to ask someone stronger than myself to help me loosen the lid.
  • Simple; ever noticed that the supermarket own-brand stuff is incredibly simple? They didn’t even create extra cost by hiring a designer, and they don’t waste money marketing their products. It’s as cheap and simple as it gets, and for some single people it offers the most effective solution. Save money, but eat well – I don’t know if you’ve tried any of this stuff but in my first flat I practically lived on it, and I couldn’t tell any real difference, other than the packaging, which is basically a ‘does the job’ method of packaging.

The Family Diet

Families vary a lot. Different ages, sizes, incomes. There are a lot of variables to take into consideration. But their shopping tends to share a number of the characteristics of the single people and the students.

  • Big or Bulk Packaging; if you’re a family you have at least two mouths to feed, but generally 3-5. This means a lot of food, and often of incredibly varied types. Bulk packaging and bigger packaging options are popular for families, often labelled ‘family size’ to draw the attention of economical parents.
  • Colourful Packaging; Kids are drawn to colourful things and cuddly animals. Anyone who develops food products aimed towards children knows this, so if you have kids you’re going to find yourself drawn to, if not dragged toward, the most colourful, child orientated packaging on the shelves.
  • Nothing Artificial; in your younger years you might have scoffed at packaging that displayed boldly and proudly that is had no added sugars, colours or preservatives. Now that you’re a parent you’ll be grasping at them with desperation. Kids are bad enough, they’re small and energetic, but the few months of being a parent taught you that they have sensitive stomachs, and once they started moving and eating solid foods it taught you just how big of an effect those added sugars can have. Most parents start looking to limit additives by the time their first child is three.

The Health Conscious Diet

Maybe you’re a sporty sort of person, maybe you just like to take care of yourself. It is important that you have the right standard of health from your food and you take your time to select foods that are suitable for your health needs.

  • Fresh packaging; packaging that promotes or improves freshness tends to be a more popular selection among those who are particularly conscious of their health, of course many fresh fruits and vegetables do not include packaging, but those that to usually provide ventilated plastic packaging. Simple packaging is important for fresh foods.

Nutritional Information; Those who are health conscious will of course be concerned about what is in the foods they are buying, which makes the nutritional information strip seen on most food packaging a particularly useful feature. However; rather than scrutinising everything strictly and finding the best possible product from the options available to them, most health conscious types will select from those where the nutritional information is most clearly displayed.

About the Author

Kate Critchlow is a freelance writer working with a variety of clients to provide informative and interesting articles on a variety of topics covering everything fromfood packaging to recipes.