Why Is Sourcing Fresh Recipe Inspiration Such A Challenge For Consumers?
Updated: Oct 13
This is not new information, but home cooking is trending. Depending on where you are in the world, you've probably been cooking three meals a day most days of the week since the first quarter of 2020. At this point, finding fresh recipe inspiration to counteract cooking fatigue should be second nature to us but for many, it's not.
In a recent report from Acosta, 40% of people admitted that coming up with new meal ideas is a challenge for them. Why, when millions of recipes are freely available online, is sourcing fresh recipe inspiration such an issue for so many consumers?
Planning meals is time-consuming
With out-of-home activities curtailed and more time spent at home, you'd expect to have more free time, but that isn't necessarily the case for everyone. Between homeschooling, working from home and keeping everyone entertained, life is pretty busy right now. Add in cooking three meals a day and it's no surprise that the planning stage of the meal journey is a challenge. Lack of variety is not an issue but the inefficient nature of the meal planning and grocery shopping journey is. Shoppable recipes have not yet disrupted the meal planning journey but they have the power to do so. Pre-pandemic, consumers were spending 40-minutes a week planning meals. With 27% of consumers planning more meals in advance, this number has surely risen since the pandemic began and it doesn't include the time spent adding groceries to a shopping list and checking out. Shoppable recipes streamline the process, giving consumers valuable time back to spend doing less mundane tasks.
Takeaway: With home cooking and online grocery both trending, now is the ideal time to combine meal planning with online grocery by investing in shoppable recipes.
Too much variety is a bad thing
A recipe website with 20,000 recipes is not any more useful to consumers than a recipe website with 20 recipes. Without a filtering system that enables consumers to browse a much smaller number of very relevant recipes, there is little point in offering 20,000 recipes. On the other hand, offering too few recipes gives consumers no reason to come back for more once they've exhausted the options available. It might seem odd that we're advocating cutting back on the number of recipes you share given that we're in the business of licencing recipe content, but there is a happy medium. Focusing on quality and relevancy over quantity is key. An API that offers quick access to millions of recipes scraped from the internet is an easy solution, but how many of those recipes are your customers really going to try? Curating a smaller selection of high-quality recipes that are relevant to your customers creates a less cumbersome website experience while still giving your customers a reason to come back for more.
Takeaway: Getting the balance right between quality and variety of recipes makes the meal planning process more pleasant for consumers.
Planning a whole week of meals is exhausting
Beyond the time-consuming nature of meal planning, planning a whole week of meals in one go is just exhausting. This is a particular issue when you consider that pre-pandemic, one-third of people didn't decide what they were having for dinner by at least 4 pm. With people making fewer grocery store trips or placing one weekly online grocery order, planning meals has gone from a spontaneous daily occurrence to a more rigid weekly chore. Managing a budget and reducing food waste need to be taken into consideration and so do different tastes and dietary requirements. This is where meal planning solutions really come into their own. Carefully curated meal plans that suit a variety of needs (cooking on a tight budget or following a plant-based diet, for example) offer significant benefits for consumers. Not only do they make the meal planning journey more efficient, but they eliminate the need for consumers to trawl through a variety of recipe websites and make the process an awful lot less exhausting.
Takeaway: Carefully curated meal plans help your brand build a reputation as an efficient one-stop-shop for relevant recipe inspiration and online groceries.
With a not-insignificant 40% of people struggling with creating a varied meal plan, this is the ideal time for grocery retailers, food brands and the smart kitchen to foster loyalty amongst busy home cooks by solving the challenges faced during the meal planning journey. A staggering 84% of consumers want brands to give tips on coping with the pandemic, and since the one certainty is that we all still need to eat, what's for dinner (and breakfast and lunch!) is a great place to start.