More and More Consumers Experimenting with New Recipes at Home

BY Courtney Huckabay
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Nearly 4 in 5 Americans say dinners at home mean cooking from scratch. Nearly six in ten Americans say they enjoy cooking. Amidst a sea of cooking shows, culinary empires, and celebrity chefs, there’s no shortage of ways to get a cooking fix without even turning on the stove. But just how often are Americans turning up the heat in their own kitchens and what exactly does “cooking” mean?

For a majority, eating dinner at home entails cooking from scratch (78%), followed by heating up something from the fridge or freezer (45%), and cooking using shortcuts such as precut veggies or pre-​marinated chicken breasts (37%).

But eating at home doesn’t always mean cooking from scratch or even using a microwave. Other eating at home options include:

  • Picking up restaurant carryout on the way home (23%);
  • Picking up prepared items at the grocery store on the way home (22%), which is favored by Millennials compared to older generations;
  • Having restaurant takeout delivered to home (15%); and,
  • Using a meal/​meal ingredient delivery service, such as Blue Apron or Plated, also favored more by Millennials compared to older generations.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,236 U.S. adults, along with representative oversamples of 510 Hispanic Americans (interviewed in English and Spanish) and 179 Asian Americans (interviewed in English), surveyed online between March 16 and 21, 2016.

Retailers and grocers looking to target the cooking audience should start with direct mail. AudienceSCAN reports 40% of Cooking Recipe Experimenters took action based on ads/​coupons they received by post in the past month.

Cooking enjoyment

Who are the home chefs? A majority of Americans enjoy cooking (57%), with over one quarter (27%) enjoying it a great deal. It’s no surprise that those who enjoy cooking the most are also more likely to cook from scratch compared to those who don’t (86% vs. 67%). Cooking is enjoyed more by:

  • Women (61% vs. 53% of men);
  • Adults with children under 18 in the house (65% vs. 53% of those without kids in the house);
  • Millennials (65%), Gen Xers (56%), and Baby Boomers (57% vs. 42% of Matures); and,
  • Hispanics (68% vs. 55% of Whites and 46% of Asian Americans).

To cook or not to cook? That is the question

Whether they like it or not, nearly all Americans cook (97%) and a vast majority cook at least once a week (84%), while about 3 in 10 (31%) cook every day. Those most likely to cook everyday tend to be women (37% vs. 24% men), married (35% vs. 28% unmarried), adults with children in the household (37% vs. 28% without kids in the house), and those who enjoy it (43% vs. 16% who don’t enjoy cooking).

When looking to cook something up, Americans turn to “back pocket” recipes (42%), a recipe of their own design (32%), or a recipe passed down from a family member (25%). Technology also plays a role for some, with 17% taking recipes from a website and 12% from a cooking-​related TV show.

27.3% of recipe experimenters saw news articles (in print, broadcast or online), and then took action, according to AudienceSCAN data. They're looking for recipes and ideas, so advertisers should take advantage of native advertising.

Pass the takeout, please

Among those who say they don’t enjoy cooking, the top reasons include: they’re not good at it (35%), they don’t have time (31%), or it simply isn’t fun (31%). Not surprisingly, different people have different explanations for why they don’t enjoy cooking:

  • Men are more likely than women to cite never learning how to cook as a reason (23% vs. 11% of women), while women are more likely to say they don’t have time (37% vs. 25% of men).
  • Millennials are about twice as likely as all other generations to say it’s easier to order something in (30% vs. 15% Gen Xers, 10% Baby Boomers, 6% Matures) and that they don’t have the attention span (29% vs. 16% Gen Xers, 8% Baby Boomers, 7% Matures).

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.