One in five people don't cook, Harris Poll finds

July 26, 2010

In what is ostensibly good news for the restaurant industry – and perhaps the reason why take 'n' bake and other closer-to-home-cooking takeout options are trending up – people like to cook, but are too busy to do it often, according to a Harris Poll.

Many Americans enjoy cooking, but a majority doesn't do it the majority of the time. Two in five (41 percent) say they prepare meals at home five or more times a week and three in 10 (29 percent) do so three to four times a week. One in five (19 percent) of U.S. adults prepare meals at home one to two times a week and 11 percent say they rarely or never prepare meals at home.

Though many people prepare some meals at home, many of those foods are at least partially pre-prepared, which is another potential market for grocers and the restaurant industry: Three-quarters of those who prepare meals at home, or 75 percent, say they very often or occasionally will use pre-prepped and/or frozen ingredients and kitchen appliances such as microwaves and toaster ovens to both speed up the process and clean-up involved.

Among those who prepare meals at home, four in five (81 percent) say they cook what they are familiar with very often. Looking at where inspiration is gained, 22 percent of those who prepare meals at home say they very often look for and use new written recipes to try new foods and techniques while almost half (46 percent) say they are likely to do so occasionally. One in five (20 percent) say they often gain inspiration from food-related articles, online postings and cooking shows, but do not follow their recipes exactly, while two in five (41 percent) say they occasionally do this.

There is a generational difference in frequency of preparing meals at home. More than half of Matures (52 percent) cook at home five or more times per week, yet younger Americans do so with less frequency--just 33 percent of Echo Boomers (those aged 18-33) cook at home five or more times per week. When they are cooking at home, just more than one in five (22 percent) say they often cook only for themselves, while three-quarters (76 percent) often cook for their family and 22 percent often cook for friends.

Topics: Trends / Statistics

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