Americans ordered to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic are being forced to find new ways to fulfill their daily responsibilities and occupy their free time. Many of these activities include cooking and feeding the family.

Since 2003, Hunter, a food and beverage public relations and marketing communications consultancy based in New York City, has commissioned an annual Food News Study to identify the top food news stories according to the opinions of Americans, as well as the impact of these stories on their behavior and top sources for information about food, recipes and nutrition. For this Hunter Food Study Special Report – America Gets Cooking – 1,005 American adults were surveyed online and asked to compare their current cooking and eating habits vs. before the pandemic and share resulting changes in their cooking confidence and enjoyment, ingredients, recipe usage, food waste and more.

The survey showed that more than half of consumers are cooking more (54%), and almost as many baking more (46%). While use of mail-ordered prepared meals and meal kits (22%) and ordering takeout and delivery (30%) are also increasing among some consumers, this is being offset by decreases in these behaviors by others (38% and 28%, respectively). A total of three-quarters (75%) of American adults who are cooking more report that they are more confident in the kitchen (50%) or learning more about cooking and starting to build more confidence (26%). Not merely a chore, a total of 73% are enjoying it more (35%) or as much as they did before (38%).

Many of those surveyed have discovered new ingredients (38%) and new brands (45%) and are rediscovering ingredients they have not used in a long time (24%). Meanwhile, the consumers who claimed to be cooking more often are embracing these new habits even more enthusiastically (44%, 50% and 28%, respectively). Creativity abounds, with roughly one-third (34%) of all adults searching for more recipes and meal prepping ideas (31%). Top recipes consumers are searching for are simple, practical meal solutions (61%) and ways to use up current ingredients (60%), although almost half of consumers are also looking for ways to cook healthier (47%) and inspiration to try new foods (45%). More than one-third (35%) of recipe users are searching for a cooking project and inspiration to learn new techniques.

Importantly, among the Americans who are cooking more, more than half (51%) reported that they will continue to do so when the coronavirus crisis comes to an end. Top motivators include cooking at home more often saves money (58%), cooking helps them to eat healthier (52%), trying new recipes (50%) and they find cooking relaxing (50%).

Meanwhile, snacking throughout the day is at an all-time high. This is especially true in households with children, with half (50%) reporting they are snacking more than before.

“The study results confirm many of our suspicions and certainly corroborate many of the sales trends we are seeing in the marketplace,” said Heddy DeMaria, chief insights officer at Hunter. “We have long regarded Americans as consummate optimists. When the going gets tough, they find a way to prevail and in this case, they are choosing to redirect their energy and creativity to the kitchen, not only finding joy in the process of cooking, but also in the benefits that come from it.”