ConneCKtions Research: Is cooking at home still a thing?

By Ronn Kirkwood

In our ever-changing, digitally charged world, we wondered about the status of good old home cooking. Recent Department of Commerce research shows that Americans are now spending more on dining out than on groceries. Does that mean that home cooking is a thing of the past? With all the dining options available to us, do we still take the time for family dinner at home? How often? And, what about that demographic powerhouse, the Millennial generation – are they upholding this longstanding American tradition? Take a look at the results of a survey we conducted – the answers to these questions may surprise, and inspire, you.

Normal Rockwell Isn’t Dead

Despite the blandishments of fast food and the ever-expanding landscape of casual dining alternatives, the American Institution of the family meal thrives. Three-fifths of Americans cook dinner fully at home five or more times a week. And this is true across life stages, employment statuses and household structures.

Home Cooking Research

It’s a Balancing Act

In sustaining this tradition, we balance expedience and culinary exploration. In our “make it happen now” society, little pre-planning goes into our meal prep, with three in five consumers planning meals on the same day they’re prepared. Despite time pressures, we like to explore – in fact, we’re recipe pack rats, collecting more than we actually use.

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The Learning Curve

Millennials are less likely than older consumers to describe themselves as “decent” or “expert” cooks and more likely to characterize themselves as “novices” or as “winging it.” Clearly, there’s room to grow.

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What does this mean for marketers?

Tradition Has a Currency

There are some things in life that are constant – the inalienable truths – as it were, and home cooking seems to fall into that category. Integrating your brand into this family ritual can help connect it with consumers in a richly meaningful way.

Beyond Meal Solutions

The idea of “meal solutions” has become a tired code word for culinary compromise. Our data underscore the quest for real food available on short notice, with little forethought. Contemporize the tradition by offering authentic meal options that, while fitting into the daily chaos, satisfy the need for actual preparation.

Feed the Food Explorers

We know that Millennials want to learn and grow. Products, recipes and relevant information that help them achieve culinary creativity can transform a trusted brand into a go-to mentor, establishing a meaningful connection with this valued cohort.

Source: A custom survey of men and women age 18+, completed Oct 6-7, 2015.