Collaborative Post

Are British Cooking Habits changing for the Better?


There are few measures of overall health more useful than cooking skills and habits. Those of us who are willing and able to cook for ourselves are able to control what goes into our food, and we’re less reliant on pre-packaged and takeaway meals, which are inevitably crammed with fructose, trans-fats and other additives. What’s more, meals we cook for ourselves tend to taste better, too!

Cooking habits tend to be more common in older generations. Data from Nils Gerrit Wunsch indicates a marked decline in cooking ability over the years. While around forty percent of respondents over sixty-five claimed that they didn’t have the skill to cook a meal from scratch, the figure was just 16% among those 18-24.

It’s difficult to draw conclusions from data of this sort, which relies on self-reporting. Just because someone says that they eat a certain way doesn’t mean that they actually do. Moreover, we might expect cooking skill to increase with age. Despite this, the study agreed with an earlier one from 2017, which declared that 86% of adults over fifty-five cook at least two meals a week from scratch, which falls to just 71% for those under twenty-four.

Inside of a grocer
Photo by nrd on Unsplash

Has lockdown changed our cooking habits?

Lockdown has provided many of us with an opportunity, and an incentive, to cook for ourselves. You might have invested in a set of quality pots and pans, or a sharp knife, and begun to work your way through online cooking lessons. You might expect a rise in the proportion of home-cooked meals going forward. But is this hypothesis borne out by the data?

Premier Foods Kitchen Cooking Index has published its first report, which discusses that very question. The conclusion is that 91% intend to cook the same amount of food at home in the future, and that most Brits (73%) have enjoyed cooking meals at home over the last year.

What drives people to cook from home?

The report cites several motivators as push factors for home-cooking. Enjoyment of the meal is a big driver, cited by around 42% of respondents. Interestingly, there’s a difference of opinion between the sexes when it comes to enjoyment – 45% of men cited enjoyment, while just 40% of women did.

The pandemic’s probable origin in intensive animal farming has also lead many of us to question our eating habits more broadly. Rather than simply trusting a processed food manufacturer to worry about getting the calories onto our plates, we’re increasingly taking the matter into our own hands.

There are good health grounds to suppose that cooking your own meals would lead to more favourable health outcomes. It’s easier to include the required five portions of fruit and veg recommended by the NHS when you’re cooking for yourself, just as it’s more difficult to avoid fibreless, processed carbohydrates if you’re eating fast food constantly.