Gen Z shuns three-course dinners in favour of casual dining

More than half of Gen Z diners opt for picnics with friends over sit-down meals
More than half of Gen Z diners opt for picnics with friends over sit-down meals - DOUGAL WALTERS

Gen Z is shunning three-course dinners in favour of casual dining like picnics or “picky tea”, new research suggests.

While older generations still prefer traditional dining, a survey suggests young adults want a relaxed spread.

More than half of Gen Z diners – 52 per cent – opt for picnics with friends over sit-down meals. Gen Z refers to young adults born from the mid-to-late 1990s to early 2010s.

In contrast, 60 per cent of over-55s preferred a formal dinner, according to the survey of more than 2,000 people. Sainsbury’s, which carried it out, said its research shows “the tide is changing”.

A simple “picky tea” was preferable to a dinner party for 56 per cent of Gen Z and 59 per cent of Millennials, those born between approximately 1981 and 1996.

The snack-style dinner plate – typically containing but not limited to bread, meat, cheese and pickles – was at the centre of a social media trend last year as images and recipes for so-called “Girl Dinner” went viral.

The phrase was reportedly coined by TikTok user Olivia Maher who said a medieval-style dinner of bread, cheese, grapes and pickles was her “ideal meal”. Maher then said: “I call this girl dinner, or mediaeval peasant.”

She later told the New York Times that she and another female friend had come up with the idea, saying: “We love eating that way, and it feels like such a girl dinner because we do it when our boyfriends aren’t around and we don’t have to have what’s a ‘typical dinner’ – essentially, with a protein and a veggie and a starch.”

Nigella Lawson made reference to a New York Times article on the topic last year saying: “We call them ‘Picky Bits’.”

According to Sainsbury’s, the majority – 54 per cent – of 16 to 24-year-olds say they like picnics because there is less pressure than hosting dinner.

A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s said: “Our research shows that generationally there is a split in how the nation likes to dine, with younger people now favouring a casual picnic-style spread with friends over a fancy sit-down meal.

“With the weather being so unpredictable in the UK recently, we wanted to give Brits the chance to enjoy a picnic rain or shine, which is why we’re launching the Picnic Pavilion, where people can come together to feast on hampers full of innovative products from our latest summer range – with nods to the classic British picnic and Mediterranean tapas.”