Cooking at home becomes major trend coming out of Covid-19

28 August 2020 3 min. read
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Covid-19 has affected every facet of modern life, putting many jobs, interests and hobbies on pause throughout the long lockdown months. While there has been a lot of hardship, however, one positive to come from the experience is many people have rediscovered the joy of cooking – with the likelihood of people making their own dinner in Britain increasing by almost 10% since the outbreak.

The sudden stress test many supply chains were subjected to at the start of lockdown meant that for some time ready-made meals were in short supply for consumers, while going out to eat at the local restaurant ceased to be an option. Even with the lockdown lifted, however, the first half of 2020 seems to have changed consumers on a longer-term basis.

According to a survey of people residing in five European economies, the vast majority of consumers will be relying on home-cooked meals for their dinner either more, or the same amount, after Covid-19. The research from Bain & Company found that around 40% of people said they would be eating home cooked meals as much as before, while the same number said they would eat home cooking more often.

Meal occasions

In stark contrast, just under 40% of people said they would be relying on ready meals less regularly than before the lockdown, and a massive 60% said the same of eating in restaurants. While the decreasing popularity of restaurants can at least partially be explained by the fact consumers are worried about the risk of being exposed to Covid-19, an equal contributor seems to be that their spending power has collapsed – as reflected by the fact that a similar number of consumers are also set to decrease their use of takeaway services to obtain the same food.

When asked why they were downsizing their takeaway intake, 31% of consumers said they had hygiene concerns – but the same number said they were trying to spend less. Amid the current recession brought on by lockdown, which has seen mass redundancies across the world’s leading economies, this is hardly a surprise. Interestingly, however, 49% of those buying fewer deliveries also said it was simply due to their preference to cook at home.

Percentage of meal occasions

To that end, looking at the UK, the lockdown months seem to have had a drastic long-term change on consumer habits. Before the pandemic, respondents told Bain that around 60% of meal occasions were home cooked – with restaurants accounting for just under 10%. Now, while restaurant demand had recovered somewhat from its collapse in the lockdown months, it still sits at just 3%.

This, along with a fall in lunch at work, and a smaller decline in the number of takeaway orders, means that home cooked meals now account for 72% of meal occasions – having almost reached 80% during the lockdown.

Home cooked meals

Bain’s findings support recent findings from a study of 2,000 adults in the UK which found more than half of UK residents have been experimenting and using extra ingredients in their cooking more often since the call to stay home. The research, commissioned by supermarket Tesco, found that the average household now spends almost seven hours a week cooking its meals – compared to just six hours previously.

The changes look set to continue for some time to come, too. When asked about the next 12-18 months, presuming government restrictions continue to relax, more than a fifth of UK respondents said they would expect to be cooking more in their own kitchens than prior to lockdown.

While this is still a lower portion than the European average, this average was more than a little thrown off by the presence of cuisine-powerhouses France and Italy. When the UK is compared to Germany or Sweden, it is actually experiencing a quicker uptake of home-cooking than the likes of Germany and Sweden.

Further reading: 10 charts from Bain on how consumer behaviour is changing.