While Baby Boomers have been given credit for launching America’s cooking craze and nurturing it over the past few decades, Baby Boomers’ children, the Millennial generation (aged 17–34 in 2011), are now poised to take over and start stirring the pot.
According to a new Mintel report, younger cooks may lack skill in the kitchen, but make up for it with their enthusiasm. Only 6% of Millennials say they have advanced skill in the kitchen, compared to 15% of those aged 55+. However, a quarter (25%) of Millennials claim to “love cooking” versus 17% of their senior counterparts.
“It appears that years of frequent cooking helps to hone skills, but the downside is they sometimes fall into a rut from fixing the same dishes over and over,” says Fiona O’Donnell, senior analyst at Mintel. “This creates an opportunity for marketers to provide seniors with options that adhere to specific health requirements, as well as add an element of fun and adventure to meal prep.”
The desire for a healthier diet is an important motivation for home cooking. Roughly half (51%) of home cooks say they cook because homemade food is generally healthier than both restaurant food and prepared foods sold at grocery stores. In addition to health, experimentation, socializing and personal enjoyment round out the reasons people are spending more time cooking.
Fifty-six percent of Mintel respondents who cook occasionally say cooking allows them to experiment and try new things and 27% say it helps them to explore foods eaten in other cultures. Meanwhile, 48% say cooking is a way to express affection to friends and family and 41% enjoy teaching their children how to cook. And perhaps the simplest of reasons, 43% enjoy the process of cooking as much as eating and 40% find that preparing food helps them to relax.
“Older cooks, possibly for health concerns, are somewhat more likely to cite health as a reason for their interest in cooking,” adds Fiona O’Donnell. “Younger cooks appear to be more interested in experimentation, with those in their 20s and 30s more likely to agree that cooking gourmet meals makes them feel sophisticated and smart, suggesting that learning to cook and cooking for friends is viewed as a way to establish credibility among their peers.”[Source: Research conducted by Mintel. 21 Nov. 2011. Web. 2 Dec. 2011.]