Bring On The Turkey Sandwiches: New Survey Finds Majority Of Americans Enjoy Leftovers More Than The Holiday Meal Itself

At a Time of New-Fangled Foods and Exotic Flavors, Americans Intent on Maintaining Holiday Traditions

NOVEMBER 19, 2013 – Washington, D.C. — Americans spend hours planning, shopping and preparing a warm, delicious holiday meal for their families. While the time and consideration put into these dishes do not go unnoticed, a new survey commissioned by Grain Foods Foundation and conducted online by Harris interactive in October among more than 2,000 U.S. adults finds that more than 6 in 10 Americans actually enjoy the leftovers more than the meals themselves. However, the survey, which looked at Americans’ perceptions of holiday meals, also found that enjoying family meals together is a favorite part of the holidays for nearly all U.S. adults (90 percent) — so maybe we really do love spending time with our families after all.

Knowing that mealtime is a centerpiece of holiday celebrations, Americans take the preparation of each plate very seriously. In between menu planning, food shopping, and cooking and plating each dish, 60 percent of Americans agree that pulling together a full holiday meal is downright stressful. Despite this, many are unwilling to cut corners when it comes to maintaining their valued family traditions or to explore new, exotic twists on holiday dishes. Using favorite, traditional family recipes is the most important part of holiday meal preparation.

With this focus on tradition, dinner guests can be sure many of the dishes on the table will be familiar. In fact, just five percent said wowing guests with unique flavors and twists is the most important part of holiday meal preparation. Healthfulness of the meal also falls to the wayside for most, with only one in ten respondents citing it as being the most important thing to them when preparing a holiday meal.

“The holidays are a time for enjoying time and great meals with family. A healthy lifestyle is all about moderation, so it is okay to indulge in dishes you love, as long as you eat smart,” said Sylvia Melendez Klinger, a registered dietitian and Grain Foods Foundation Science Advisory Board member. “Depriving yourself this holiday season isn’t realistic. Instead, learn how to make all of your favorite holiday recipes healthier with a few ingredient substitutions like vegetables and whole and fiber-rich grain foods.”

So what’s on the menu for most Americans’ holiday meals? Many Americans are following Sylvia’s advice, incorporating grain foods and vegetables. According to the survey, bread — whether in the form of stuffing or dinner rolls — is the most popular, served by nearly 90 percent of Americans (86 percent and 84 percent, respectively). In fact, more than 80 percent agree that bread is always a part of their family’s meal. Other popular side dishes include mashed potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce — the perfect fillings for a leftover sandwich.
For expert nutrition advice as well as video tips for including more wholesome bread and grains in your diet during the holidays, please visit

The Grain Foods Foundation, a joint venture of members of the milling, baking and allied industries formed in 2004, is dedicated to advancing public understanding of the beneficial role grain-based foods play in the human diet. Directed by a board of trustees, funding for the Foundation is provided through voluntary donations from public and private grain-based food companies and is supplemented by industry associations. For more information, visit

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States, October 28–30, 2013, among 2,038 adults ages 18 and older, by Harris Interactive on behalf of Grain Foods Foundation via its QuickQuery omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error, which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error,” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.
Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.