CHICAGO – Cooking at home is becoming more common, according to a new survey. Twenty-six percent of American consumers say they “love” cooking vs. only 9 percent who claim to dislike it, according to new research from Mintel. Thirty-five percent of American consumers claim to like cooking, while 31 percent say they “don’t mind” cooking. Up to 20 percent of US consumers describe their cooking skills level as advanced, while 46 percent feel they have at least an intermediate level.


Cost continues to impact how and where consumers decide to eat -- even if they have more discretionary income. Fifty-four percent of Americans who cook agree cooking at home is less expensive than eating at restaurants and 43 percent believe cooking at home is cheaper than buying prepared foods at a store.


“This enthusiasm for cooking at home is likely to persist despite having more disposable income that could be spent dining out. In addition to a perception that cooking is more cost effective, it is also a principal way in which Americans are bettering their health, bonding with family, and preserving their own familial traditions,” said Gretchen Grabowski, leisure analyst at Mintel.  “There is also an element of surprise or adventure involved in cooking at home, as those who participate can experiment with new foods and learn about other cultures.”


Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) shows 29 percent of the food products launched between January and September 2012 are private-label, representing a share increase of about 4 percent over 2011. 


“As Americans are presented with a wider variety of private-label food offerings – and cheaper alternatives to purchasing the otherwise same quality goods – they will more easily be able to pursue interests in cooking at home, regardless of their respective household incomes,” Grabowski said.


Nutrition is also top of mind with many consumers. Forty-six percent of Mintel respondents who cook strongly agree cooking at home is a healthier option to buying prepared foods from a store;  43 percent agree home cooking is healthier than restaurant food.

Equally important, 43 percent of Americans say buying and using food packaging that maintains freshness and taste is very important; 35 percent agree using ingredients with the highest nutritional value is very important; 23 percent believe supporting local food and produce vendors, such as those found at the ever increasing farmers markets, is very important; but only 13 percent feel a strong need to buy organic food or ingredients.


The major reason preventing many people from cooking at home (according to 30 percent of Americans) is the required clean-up; 23 percent say they don’t have the time; and 19 percent say cooking just for themselves is not worth it.