The daily cooking routines of households remain something of a mystery, yet it is understood that these behaviors are shaped by more than just culinary expertise. Factors like gender, personal connections, time constraints, work, ethnicity, and culture also play significant roles. Studies emphasize the favorable outcomes of home cooking, especially its health advantages, but it is also worth highlighting its influence on broader social aspects. The practice of home cooking is in a state of continual flux, undergoing shifts that have been further accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, giving rise to fresh industry trends and alterations. Thus, the EHL Institute of Nutrition R&D aims to explore this subject.
To begin with, our institute believes that understanding domestic culinary trends worldwide is invaluable and it is useful to start by identifying the primary individuals responsible for cooking at home.
Who cooks at home?
Gender, geographical location, and employment status stand out as the foremost determinants influencing the frequency of home cooking. Nevertheless, the global panorama depicted by Cookpad & Gallup in the World Cooking Index reveals that a multitude of factors, encompassing age, urban environment, income levels, educational background, parental roles, household size, and marital status, collectively shape culinary behaviors on a worldwide scale.
Significantly, as of 2021, women continue to outpace men in the realm of home cooking, preparing an estimated 4.3 additional meals per week. Nonetheless, noteworthy shifts are discernible in some parts of the world, such as Jamaica, where men have taken the culinary lead by contributing to 0.2 more meals per week compared to women, and Iceland, where an equitable distribution of cooking responsibilities exists between genders.
Examining regional variations, individuals residing in Latin America, the Caribbean, Northern, Southern, and Western Europe emerge as the stalwarts of home cooking. Indeed, with 7.7 home-cooked meals on average per week, they engage in two or more meals above the consumption rates observed in regions like the Arab States, at just 4.8 meals per week.
Lastly, those in traditional employment roles exhibit a subtle divergence from culinary engagement, preparing nearly one meal less per week compared to their self-employed or unemployed counterparts.
The practice of home cooking exhibits significant diversity, prompting the question of what advantages are associated with preparing meals at home.
Why is home cooking so important?
As mentioned earlier, the practice of cooking meals at home holds substantial benefits for health, including a reduction in BMI and an enhancement of dietary benefits. Cooking meals at home is widely acknowledged as a healthier and more nourishing choice in comparison to other dining options. In fact, home-cooked meals tend to contain fewer calories. A study conducted in the UK further highlights these advantages, revealing that individuals who consumed homemade meals more than five times weekly, as opposed to less than three times, had a notable increase of 62.3 grams in daily fruit intake and 97.8 grams in daily vegetable intake. Moreover, a higher frequency of homemade meal consumption was associated with a 28% decrease in the likelihood of having an elevated BMI and a 24% decrease in the likelihood of possessing excessive body fat.
The merits of home cooking extend to both physical and mental well-being, along with social considerations. Nevertheless, discernible changes in home cooking patterns over time reveal the emergence of novel trends and innovations.
The evolution of AI-powered cooking innovations stands as one of the most recent advancements in home kitchen technology and is a remarkable example of how industries are adapting to these emerging trends and new consumer needs. This innovation offers the capability to automate and generate recipes that can adjust according to personal preferences and even predict shopping needs. This tool possesses the ability to monitor dietary intake, give nutritional insights and recommend dietary modifications based on health data. An AI-powered household robot also has the capacity to perform various cooking tasks like chopping, mixing, and stirring. Importantly, such tools could also combat food waste due to their ability to measure ingredients precisely.
Discovering future developments
At EHL Hospitality Business School, the Institute of Nutrition R&D also plays a role in this area by actively contributing to the advancement of novel products and cooking techniques that are suitable for home cooking applications. To ensure a comprehensive approach, the research team collaborates closely with a scientific committee that includes leading industry firms, chefs, and academic partners spanning diverse fields. Collectively, they pinpoint key areas for the future development of wholesome and delightful food and beverages.