Cook-at-Home Behaviors Becoming Dominant: Report

NFRA’s latest study also points to the priorities of convenience and healthfulness
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
a woman smiling for the camera
TikTok graphic NFRA
NFRA's study found that many consumers are increasingly turning to social media to get recipes for their meals at home.

The National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA) has released findings from its new “Eating at Home” report showing that more than two-thirds of consumers are eating at home as a way to manage their budgets and 81% are actually cooking more than half of their meals at home.

Coming up on the four-year mark since the pandemic began, these habits have become entrenched through experience. According to the report, 54% of consumers are more focused on cooking meals at home since the pandemic began and 49% are looking for new things to try and eat. 

[Read more: “The Rise of Supermarket Prepared Foods”]

The study of more than 12,000 people, undertaken to identify shifting grocery shopping habits, also found that these cook-at-home consumers are driven by traditional factors like taste/flavor (65%) and quality of the groceries (65%). Nearly half (49%) cite healthfulness as an important consideration when putting items in their cart. 

As they balance taste and health, shoppers are mindful of convenience as they make meals and snacks while maintaining busy lifestyles. According to the study, 59% of respondents use shortcuts like incorporating pre-cut fruits and vegetables, combining frozen main dishes and homemade side dishes or using frozen fruit in recipes for smoothies or other treats. Convenience extends to cooking methods, too, as 45% of respondents use air fryers and 43% use slow cookers. 

To get recipes for their meals at home, consumers are increasingly turning to social media. The Eating at Home study reveals that 54% of consumers scroll TikTok and YouTube to learn more about cooking and food. 

Not surprisingly, younger consumers embrace social media platforms for inspiration. Younger Millennials and Gen Z shoppers also are engaged in the digital channel, reporting that they find online shopping convenient and appreciate automated grocery recommendations. 

To uncover these and other insights, NFRA went beyond polls. Twenty consumers from around the country welcomed researchers into their homes and grocery stores to gauge their habits and sentiments. UNFI’s team also reviewed news and social media trends to get a broad handle on attitudes about frozen and refrigerated foods. "This is the largest research undertaking from the NFRA on behalf of the frozen and refrigerated food industry, with the results yielding directional insights for food manufacturers on consumer trends," said Jeff Rumachik, NFRA’s president and CEO.

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