Here's Why We Need To Make The Meal Planning Journey Easier
Updated: Jun 11
Home cooking has a reputation problem and that bad reputation is established before we even set foot in the kitchen. What seems like a simple task - deciding what to have for dinner - has become so tedious and offputting that would-be home cooks are seeking more convenient in-the-moment options. Grocerants, meal kit services and ghost kitchens are all capitalising on our meal planning lethargy. It's so convenient to feed ourselves without cooking that a UBS report predicted that kitchens could be all-but dead by 2030. While we think this is pretty unlikely, the statistics prove that many of us are falling at the first hurdle when it comes to cooking at home.
According to Minter, 36% of Americans say that planning meals consumes more time and energy than they would prefer. To put this into a little more context, Kraft Heinz reported that consumers spend 40 minutes a week planning meals and finding recipes. Considering many of us strive to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less ('30-minute-meals' is our most requested recipe category by brands hoping to engage with busy consumers), 40 minutes just to plan those meals, not including a trip to the grocery store, seems excessive.
If people are happy to spend their money on eating out though, why bother trying to solve this aspect of the meal journey? Well, despite the barriers, home cooking appeals to more people than you'd think.
53% of U.S. adults claim they really enjoy cooking (Source)
84% of households with kids want to eat more meals at home together or prepare more meals at home (Source)
77% of Americans would rather eat a homemade meal than go out for dinner (Source)
Grocery retailers can benefit most from increased interest in home cooking, so it only makes sense for them to remove as many barriers to home cooking as possible. While it's clear that meal planning is a pain point for consumers, variety is key. In fact, 51% of Americans would prepare dinner at home more often if they had new ideas, but only a quarter of U.S. adults use grocery retailer websites for recipe inspiration. Increasing visibility of recipe content on grocery retailer websites and making it shoppable has several benefits. Not only does it position a retailer as a reliable source of recipe content, but it also has the power to increase online grocery adoption and grocery sales in general as people begin to cook at home more often.
We're not just struggling to figure out what to eat on a weekly basis. In-the-moment decisions are being made daily in grocery aisles. 77% millennials with children look up recipes in store, illustrating the importance of using recipes in brick and mortar grocery stores to grab the attention of consumers struggling to figure out what's for dinner. Waitrose and Albertsons excel at this, using strategically-placed recipe cards and Pincodes to increase basket value and make meal planning more efficient. Both retailers have figured out that efficiency is key when it comes to planning our meals, particularly when you're grabbing dinner on the way home from a busy day at work. Companies that combine the individual steps involved in getting dinner on the table into one seamless experience will change the way people see home cooking. For now, the real game-changer lies in decreasing the time spent deciding what to have for dinner.