From Mixing a Salad to Completely Cooking from Scratch: The Definition of Homemade Cooking Varies Greatly

Chicago, April 7, 2015 — What makes a meal home-cooked? The answer depends on whom you ask, finds a new study by The NPD Group, a leading global information company.  For many the top example of something made-from-scratch would be a salad, but then others might say pasta. In some cases, consumers are saying it doesn’t even need to be completely from scratch in order for the food to be considered homemade, according to the NPD study, What is Homemade?

When NPD asked consumers an open-ended question about how they define home-cooked, four themes emerged: home-cooked meals are made from scratch, made at home, made from fresh or raw ingredients, and made personally.  When asked to decide whether specific dishes are home-cooked, consumers decisively concluded that some dishes are home-cooked (those made from scratch or those that require a lot of effort) and some are not (those that “doctor” a frozen meal or a kit meal). Still other criteria are not quite as clear, like the time required to prepare a meal is not a deciding factor for a home-cooked meal, and most consumers don’t think that more ingredients will make a dish home-cooked.

Young adults, ages 25 to 34, and older age groups think alike when it comes to cooking at home. Both of these age groups want some level of involvement in cooking and preparing the food they eat although the 25 to 34 age group began cooking at home at an earlier age than the older age groups did.  It’s the youngest adult consumers, ages 18 to 24, who differ in their behaviors and attitudes toward home-cooking because they are less likely to cook at home.

“Consumers’ desire for home-cooked meals and increasing fresh food usage by younger generations signals opportunities for food manufacturers to be trusted partners in the kitchen,” says Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst at NPD. “In addition to addressing consumer need for finished or partially-finished meal offerings, manufacturers should help consumers expand their repertoire of home-cooked meals that use fresh ingredients by bringing new flavors and experiences to the forefront.”

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