In its first report looking at the nation’s cooking habits and mealtime occasions, the Premier Foods Kitchen Cooking Index has found that 91% intend to cook the same amount, or more, over the year ahead and the majority of Brits (73%) have enjoyed cooking meals at home over the past 12 months.
As well as enjoyment (42%), the big drivers as to why people plan to cook more at home include the cost saving potential (58%) and the health benefits (55%). Men rate enjoyment as a bigger driver for cooking at home in the next year than women do at 45% vs 40%.
How and what people cook in the pandemic has also changed. British households have turned away from ready meals and are instead opting to do a little bit more in the kitchen. People are also expanding their repertoires: on average, one third of British households have added a new dish to their weekly evening meal routines – the biggest increase in five years.
While the nation’s favourite evening meals have continued to prove popular, people have increasingly sought to add variety to their evenings. Lighter options such as fish and potatoes, as well as meat free dishes such as vegetarian curry and vegetarian pasta are amongst the dishes that have seen the fastest growth since the start of the pandemic.
Overall, the trend we have seen over the last few years towards vegan and vegetarian meals also continued to grow – with plant-based (vegan) meals up 46% compared to the previous year, and vegetarian up 25%.
Households have also looked to try new things and incorporate different flavours, with taste the top consideration when choosing their evening meal. Chutneys and relishes, world ingredients (such as poppadom and curry pastes), and cooking sauces have all featured more frequently in our evening meals, up by 32%, 23% and 11% respectively.
With restaurants closed for much of the last year, people have also increasingly sought to replicate the eating out experience in the home. Friday and Saturday ‘treat dinners’ have gone up 25% compared to before the pandemic† and 54% have tried their hand at a ‘fakeaway’ – recreating their favourite takeaway at home. Nearly two fifths (18%) have made a ‘fakeaway’ on average at least once a month.
Alex Whitehouse, Chief Executive Officer, Premier Foods, commented, “It’s great to see Britain reconnect with cooking again, spending more time in the kitchen to experiment with different flavours and create new, often healthier dishes, for ourselves and our loved ones.
'But perhaps more importantly, it seems we are really enjoying it. While the last year has been difficult for people across the country, for many, cooking and enjoying meals together has become a really important part of getting through it.
'What is great to see is that, even when we look ahead to a time when things have returned to normal, the majority of us want to keep cooking the same amount or more.”