What does the post-pandemic home cook look like?
Over a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, things are starting to get back to normal (whatever normal looks like now) in some parts of the world. Vaccination programmes are giving people more confidence in eating out and after cooking most meals from scratch for more than a year, many of us need a break.
What does this return to normality mean for home cooking post-pandemic? You might think that the cooking fatigue built up over the past year will be the biggest influence on how we choose to cook and eat post-pandemic, but in reality the cooking habits formed in that same period look to have an even bigger impact.
Let's dive into three statistics that point towards a post-pandemic home cook that is more engaged, enthusiastic and capable than before.
71% of consumers say they will continue to cook at home more often after the pandemic ends
It can take between 18 and 254 days to form a new habit, and it's safe to say that pandemic-induced home cooking has been a necessity for a lot longer than that. Lack of time, lack of inspiration and lack of motivation were all reasons why people avoided home cooking prior to the pandemic, and while inspiration and motivation are still concerns, increased time to plan meals, shop for groceries and cook has meant that many of us have formed new home cooking habits that will stay with us long after the pandemic has ended. More opportunities to eat out will mean fewer meals cooked at home, but according to Hunter, the majority of consumers are planning on cooking from home more often post-pandemic than they did pre-pandemic. As our busy lives ramp up again, the focus for food brands grocery retailers should be on quick, tasty, accessible recipe inspiration to help keep consumers on track with their new home cooking habits.
62% of us now cook more meals from scratch than we did in 2019
While 71% of people are planning on cooking at home more often after the pandemic, that does not necessarily mean that they will be preparing those meal from scratch. This is an important distinction, particularly when you are using recipe content to promote your products and add value for consumers. With 62% of people cooking more meals from scratch now than they did in 2019, the appetite for fresh, home cooked meals is going nowhere post-pandemic. More meals cooked from scratch means an increased need for both inspiration and ingredients, giving food brands the opportunity to increase basket value, foster loyalty through recipe inspiration and leverage shoppable recipe content to create an end-to-end meal planning process.
75% of Americans say they have become more confident in the kitchen
This is perhaps the most telling statistic of all. The majority of Americans now feel more confident in the kitchen. While new home cooking habits have formed throughout the past year, the kitchen confidence gained throughout the pandemic means people are more likely to stick to this new habit. Not just that, but with confidence comes a desire to improve further, meaning an increased appetite for more complex recipe content post-pandemic. People have learned that they love to cook and that, in many cases, a lack of time was the only thing holding them back. The time spent mastering the basics over the past year of staying home combined with the length of time they have had to form new cooking habits means that even when they have less time, many people will continue to embrace home cooking.
In a lot of ways, the pandemic has created a 'perfect storm' for long-term home cooking habits to form and changes to our post-pandemic lifestyles will allow these new habits to thrive. In a recent study, 95% of people who are working remotely want to continue to do so in some capacity. The work/life balance afforded to people who work from home is an attractive prospect and the time saved on the commute makes people more likely to plan meals, shop for groceries and cook from scratch more frequently.
There is also unfortunately the possibility of an economic recession as a result of the pandemic, which may result in increase at-home food consumption, as explained by Robert Moskow from Credit Suisse:
We counted three economic recessions in the past 30 years, and in each of them the data shows that consumers shifted more toward at-home food consumption to save money, away from the structural trend of eating away from the home.
Robert Moskow, Credit Suisse
It's clear that the pandemic home cooking trend is going nowhere post-pandemic, so now is the time for food brands, grocery retailers and appliance manufacturers to build on the hard work they have done over the past year to inspire home cooks and create a roadmap for ongoing home cooking support and recipe inspiration.