About a month into the coronavirus’ arrival in the United States, CivicScience took a quick look at how Americans were reshaping their attitudes toward and behaviors around food – from the various ways to prepare it to how frequently we rely on our microwaves to bail us out – ultimately keeping our eye on one common denominator that unearthed the most interesting relationships:

How much do we really enjoy cooking?

While these numbers remained surprisingly stagnant amidst most of 2020, it’s the last few months where things have really gotten interesting – the percent of consumers who say they “don’t like” to cook rose to 17%.

So, what’s going on with the people who do enjoy their time in the kitchen? This is where a massive syndicated database housing thousands of hidden data relationships really comes in handy.

Last year, we’d identified the stove-top as the workbench of choice among cooking aficionados. While that remains true today, a solid number of cooking consumers have since redirected their attention, with over one-quarter of those who “love” to cook now preparing a majority of their meals in the oven (up to 27% from just 16% during a similar time frame last year).

Thinking about the growth of subscription models across categories, it was interesting to see positive adoption of meal kit subscriptions is highest among people generally indifferent about cooking at 9%. Those who like or love to cook are the most likely group to report dissatisfaction with meal kit subscriptions at 7%. Perhaps that indifference is the perfect ingredient for meal kit brands looking to tap into the right audience, where the culinarians are more likely to prefer sourcing food for themselves. 

Taking into consideration the impact of the pandemic on nutritional attitudes and behaviors, you can see an affinity for cooking highest among those who report healthier eating habits since the pandemic started, perhaps reinforcing the idea that people who love to cook are more apt to take control of cleaning up their diets.

Lastly, while it’s difficult to pinpoint a motive, there’s a significant difference in comfort levels with vaccinations between the culinarian and the anti-chef – 54% of those who like / love to cook report being “very” comfortable with vaccinations, compared to just 29% of those who don’t enjoy cooking. Whether that will translate into comfortability returning to restaurants or a propensity to shop in-store for groceries, we’ll have to wait and see, but the relationship is interesting to monitor nonetheless.

To say that we’re simply falling out of love with cooking might be too grand a claim to make right now, considering a majority of consumers still say they either like or love to do it. However, when you consider the subtle decline in those reporting any at-home cooking activity, coupled by the failure of meal kit subscriptions to take hold among the home chefs, it’s evident this pandemic is cross-contaminating the home-cooking landscape in new ways – many I’ll bet we’ve yet to see.