Despite Technology, Home Cooking is Still An Old-Fashioned Practice 

February 09, 2017

With apps and online videos, you would think cooking methods have changed dramatically over the years, but homestyle cooking still wins.

What’s cooking in 2017? Some say tacos, sea veggies, fermented foods, and even insects! And as food analysts make their predictions for what people will be eating this year, we wanted to find out how they are cooking.

No doubt we’ve seen an explosion of cooking guidance over the last decade or so on television, cooking videos online, and apps. And even the simple popularity of sharing food photos on social media is an indication that being food-involved is a solid trend. So we asked our panel what method of cooking they prefer. And here’s what they had to say.

When we asked how often do you cook at home, 86% answered “frequently.” Twelve percent said, “sometimes,” and two percent said, “occasionally.” Zero percent answered “rarely” or “never.” 

Okay, so a lot of people are cooking, but where do they get their recipes? We asked our panel to tell us which kinds of cooking methods they prefer, and they were given the option to choose all that apply. And with the advanced and user-friendly technology available to us all, you may be surprised by their answers: 

  • No recipes, just using my own knowledge - 82%
  • Cookbook - 71%
  • Family handwritten or typed recipes - 64%
  • Cooking videos online - 23%
  • Recipes online that give me specific step-by-step instructions - 60%
  • Recipes online that are not specific and leave room for personal interpretation - 45%
  • Recipes that share personal stories or background information on dishes - 19%
  • Demos at sample stations in my supermarket - 4%

When we asked our panel what was their NUMBER ONE preferred cooking method, 54% said “no recipes, just using my own knowledge. The number two answer was recipes online with step-by-step instructions (15%). Only one percent said they preferred mostly cooking videos online, and another one percent chose cooking shows on TV.

What does this mean for retailers? We would offer up the possibility that if your shoppers love to cook and their approach is maybe a little more old-fashioned than one would assume, using their own experience, their family traditions, and cookbooks, then it is possible that classic dishes may appeal heavily to your shoppers. As a retailer or grocerant, you may explore opportunities to promote dishes like meatloaf, lasagna, casseroles, mac n cheese, but with a healthier twist or vegetarian options. Think homestyle cooking comfort foods, which can be particularly appealing in the colder season, but with ingredient swaps that address modern health and nutritional concerns.

And we would also suggest rather than focus on elaborate in-store cooking demos, simply focus on the sampling. During high traffic times especially, the aroma of freshly prepared foods can be quite the motivator for busy shoppers making purchasing decisions for family meals. That classic tuna casserole sample could serve as a reminder that it is something they have always known how to make and enjoy. 

If you ever saw the animated film, Ratatouille, you may remember that poignant moment when France’s toughest food critic was won over with one bite of the peasant dish, ratatouille, that immediately transported him back to memories of his mother feeding him this as a child. 

Technology clearly plays an important role in the advancement of our food system, but let's not forget about the simple pleasure of simple cooking.