• Recipe Guru Team

How Food Brands Can Support Novice Cooks During Covid-19

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

We're all cooking more meals at home as we adjust to Covid-19 lockdowns, but only 10% of Americans love to cook. Not just that, but a staggering 45% of Americans hate cooking. In a matter of weeks, these people have gone from picking up a quick meal from the supermarket on the way home from work or eating out on a regular basis to cooking the majority of their meals at home. 83% of people say they're preparing meals more often at home since the outbreak of Covid-19, with 43% saying they're doing so 'much more'. All this means that there are an awful lot of novice cooks out there trying to get to grips with not just cooking more often, but cooking full stop. Interestingly, more than half of people who are cooking more often because of the pandemic say they will continue to do so when coronavirus is no longer a concern, opening up opportunities for food brands to win new customers in the months ahead. The first vital step to keeping novice cooks engaged with home cooking is guiding them through the process in a way that makes it easy, cost-effective and tasty.

The sheer volume of freely available recipe content online can be overwhelming for even the most seasoned home cook. For novice cooks, the added confusion of sifting through thousands of recipes could mean ditching plans to cook at home in favour of takeout. Many recipe websites and food brands are promoting trending topics such as quarantine-friendly pantry recipes on their home pages but are missing a trick by not creating a dedicated section for novice cooks. Personalisation is everything in marketing right now and immediate relevancy when a customer hits your website is incredibly powerful in terms of both brand awareness and sales conversions. A novice cook in search of recipe inspiration will appreciate the hand-holding aspect of bundled recipes that are ideal for beginners.

Similarly, where seasoned cooks might be craving recipes that use harissa paste and gochujang, for novice cooks it's best to focus on the basics. Google search interest in 'what can I make with chicken breast' jumped by 450% over the past 30 days in the US, illustrating the need to keep things simple.

It's not just the type of ingredients that need to be taken into account when food brands are promoting recipes to novice cooks. The number of ingredients also matter, as does the cooking time. Even as an enthusiastic cook, recipes with long lists of ingredients are sometimes off-putting to me, particularly when trips to the supermarket have been cut down to once a week. '5-ingredients or less' has been a popular recipe category for a number of years thanks to busy schedules, but for novice cooks such recipes offer the opportunity to get to grips with cooking without overwhelming themselves with too much prep work. Timewise, recipes that get dinner on the table in 30-minutes or less are the ideal way to engage novice cooks who are also part of the 45% of people who hate cooking. Most importantly, these categories generally focus on simple recipes that use basic techniques to make the most out of few ingredients.

Even more experienced cooks can benefit from this simple, guided approach to recipe content. Search interest in 'how to cook' spikes in the run-up to Thanksgiving and Christmas and remains steady throughout the rest of the year. Covid-19 changed all this, and the graph below illustrates how the recent spike in interest coincided with the lockdown. There's clearly a real appetite for information on how to get the basics right, with search interest in 'how to cook string beans' jumping by 250% in the past month.

With visits to recipe websites increasing substantially, now is the time for food brands to focus on the sort of recipe content that will appeal to novice cooks getting to grips with cooking for the first time. Pageviews on Allrecipes.com, for example, jumped by 60%. King Arthur is getting three-times the pageviews it normally gets at this time of year. Consumer interest in recipes has never been higher, and giving novice cooks the help they need to feed themselves well during lockdown will be remembered in the months and years ahead.

For information on licensing bundled recipe content that will appeal to novice cooks during Covid-19, please contact jane@therecipeguru.com. We'd love to help.