Special Feature


Changing Cooking & Dining Habits


Chuck Williams, founder of the Williams-Sonoma cookware chain, says this about cooking in the next decade:

"It's headed toward easier and more convenient cooking. I don't think people will let their favorite dishes disappear, but the kind of cooking done by our grandmothers will. People just don't have the time and there are too many alternatives. People used to cook three meals a day because they had to, even if they did not like to cook. Now there are other options. People today cook on weekends and to entertain."

  • Weekend cooking is on the upswing: Surveys indicate that 56% of consumers are cooking a larger meal on Sundays and using it as the basis for weeknight meals. Some 41% cook the week's "big meal" on Sunday, and 15% cook a big meal on Saturday. (*)
  • How much time are you willing to spend in the kitchen? Almost half (48%) of respondents polled said an hour or more on weekends to prepare a meal was fine with them, but only 37% were willing to spend the same time on a weeknight. Respondents said that cooking on weekends was relaxing and a way to spend quality time with family and friends. (*)
  • Younger Cooks Spend Less Time: While 56% of Americans spend under an hour on the weekday meal, the number rises to 66% of adults ages 25-34 who hurry through the kitchen in the same amount of time. Only 67% of adults 35-39 do the same. (*)
  • 38-40% of our food dollars are spent away from home, according to the National Restaurant Association, growing steadily over the past 15 years
  • More than half of the meals bought in restaurants are eaten at home (51% compared to 41% a decade ago), and of these, only 2.1% come from fine restaurants (source: National Public Diary Project's Harry Balzer, in a story by the Dallas Morning News).
  • With the increase in HRM's (Home Replacement Meals), the risk of food-borne illness also rises—and it's not the manufacturers' fault. Many consumers pick up a hot meal but as many as 29% may wait 2 hours to eat it—leaving it at unrefrigerated the whole time. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold is the safety adage, and that 2 hour span is ripe for breeding of salmonella and other illness-causing bacteria. We predict safety labels indicating "Eat within X hours or refrigerate" on take-out foods of the future.

(*) = Source: National Pork Producers Council

Food Trends for 1998 & the Millennium

This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

This page modified February 2007

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