In Japan, as in other countries, the externalization of food preparation is increasing. Japanese people are interested in the combination of food and tableware and they are concerned about transferring ready-made meals from plastic containers to natural tableware. This study aimed to examine the varying evaluations of meals due to differences in tableware. In this study, we investigated the effect of tableware on meal satisfaction, which is emphasized in Japanese culture. We studied the difference in the evaluation of ready-made meals (a rice ball, salad, croquette, and corn soup) before, during, and after a meal under two conditions: plastic tableware and natural wooden tableware. The results showed that there was no difference in the perceptual evaluation of taste and texture during the meal, except for the color of the salad and the temperature of the soup. On the other hand, meals served on natural wooden tableware were rated more positively than those served on plastic tableware before and after meals. These results suggest that, in Japan, the use of tableware, even for ready-made meals, increases the level of meal satisfaction. These findings have implications for both the providers and consumers of ready-made meals as well as the food industry.
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