Credit whomever or whatever you like — foodie journalists, celebrity chefs, the depressing state of the American economy — but Americans are increasingly cooking at home, according to a recent poll, reports trade magazine Progressive Grocer. Two key findings:
(1) Americans are cooking more
In fact, seven in 10 Americans say they are cooking more instead of going out in an effort to save money, according to a survey released in mid-May by The Harris Poll. Fifty-seven percent of consumers agree that going out for dinner is now a luxury, compared to their previous dining preferences, and less than a third (29 percent) say they would cut other expenses in order to be able to eat away from home.
Emphasis added there, because I think it’s points to an interesting fact: Most Americans are willing to cook at home as a bid at economic independence. The idea that Americans are just too lazy to cook doesn’t seem to hold up here.
(2) We’re cooking more, in part, because now we know how to do it
According to the Harris Poll, the economic malaise that started a few years ago has had a lingering effect. “At the beginning of the downturn, we saw consumers saving money by changing their behavior in two ways: eating out less frequently and shifting their eating-out dollars away from casual dining towards fast-food/quick-service restaurants,” remarks Mary Bouchard, VP and thought leader at Harris Interactive. “Now, with several years of experience with constrained budgets, they have shifted even further from the busy lifestyle convenience of eating out on a regular basis to making time for cooking at home.”
That last bit of emphasis — also added by me — would suggest that folks like Jamie Oliver, Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman, not to mention Rachael Ray, have got it right: When we know how to cook, we do it more.