Salad, pizza and chicken breast are the most common foods served up in Spanish households, according to a study by the ministry of agriculture, putting in doubt the popular theory of the Mediterranean diet being the basis of the country’s eating habits.
Either ‘green’ salad, mostly with lettuce leaves, or tomato salad top the list, followed by pizza, normally from the deep-freeze in the supermarket or takeaway versions from chains such as Telepizza, and chicken breast, normally fried.
These are the top three of the list of the 15 most-consumed foods at mealtimes in Spain, according to the ministry’s research.
Number four is lentils, which typically form the basis of a stew with or without meat, followed by soup with pasta pieces in it, then macaroni – usually served with minced meat and cheese – hake, Spanish omelette, which contains potato and sometimes onion, then fried eggs, and loin of pork.
These complete the top 10, and the remainder in the most popular 15 are green beans, French omelette, spaghetti, and finally, paella.
Meal habits differ vastly across the country – meals based upon fish and seafood are more common on the Mediterranean and in the south, whilst meat and pulses feature far more heavily in inland locations.
The amount of money Spanish households spent on food-shopping in 2017 – the most recent year for which figures are available – went down from 2016, with the total volume purchased being 29.18 billion kilos, or 0.7% less.
Around a third of food and drink spending was outside the home, in bars, restaurants and coffee shops, with nearly fourth-fifths of drinks being cold beverages, irrespective of the time of year.
Overall, Spain is leaning more towards a healthier diet these days, with greater emphasis on fresh fruit, vegetables and potatoes, salads, and grilled, boiled or baked dishes.
Staple produce such as olive oil, bread, meat, fish, seafood and sugar was bought less last year than in 2016, with ready meals, sunflower oil, rice, pasta and pulses being on the rise.
The ministry has already reported this year that the average Spanish household is tending to buy sunflower oil instead of olive oil these days, due to the increasing price of the latter.
Food purchases mainly involve milk and dairy produce (17.2%), and fresh fruit and fresh vegetables – including potatoes – making up 14.6% each.
Purchases of spirits have fallen by 5.8%, oil – olive, sunflower or vegetable – by 3.8%, whilst shoppers bought more bottled water (up by 5.7%) and eggs (up by 1.7%).
The overwhelming majority buy their food in person at a supermarket, and online grocery shopping appears to be very slow to catch on – partly because very few chains offer it and those who do charge a high fee.
Only 1.2% of grocery shopping is done online, although the ministry expects this figure to increase over the next few years.
Consumers in Spain choose their produce and source according to quality, price and distance from home.
They are now less likely to throw food away, due to a combination of raising awareness of waste and households less able to afford to do so, the report claims.
In 2017, a total of 1.23 billion kilos of food was thrown out, or 23.6 million per week – 5.7% less than in 2016 and 9.9% less than in 2014.