Kitchen nightmare: 1 in 3 agree pandemic has dulled their love for cooking

NEW YORK — Americans have hit their tipping point in the kitchen, a new study finds. In fact, nearly half feel “drained” thinking about prepping and cooking their next meal.

A survey of 2,000 Americans uncovered how people’s relationship with cooking has evolved since early 2020. Results show that people want to spend less than 25 minutes cooking a meal, from prep to ready time, but many take about an hour to prepare one meal. That’s why more than one-third feel their patience in the kitchen is at an “all-time low” (39%).

No time to cook

Meal prep dreadThe survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Home Chef showed that 45 percent of Americans feel like their schedule is too busy, so cooking isn’t at the front of their minds.

While more than one-third of the poll (35%) feel that the pandemic has exhausted their love for cooking over the past year, three in four still feel confident in their cooking skills (77%).

Living in quarantine had some benefits for many Americans, who learned impressive cooking hacks during the pandemic. These include coating cut avocados with olive oil to prevent browning and learning how to juice a lemon without cutting it. Two-thirds of those who learned new cooking hacks even add they’ll continue to use those hacks moving forward (67%).

Although more than half of people would like to improve their cooking skills, meal preparation and cooking are daunting, time-intensive tasks that cause common pain points. Two in three say they would enjoy cooking and preparing meals more if there was less clean-up afterwards (69%).

Ideally, the majority of Americans (82%) would like to use less than six pieces of cookware to prepare one meal — yet 55 percent end up using more cookware than they expected to.

Bored with the same old recipes

Meal prep dreadAnother pain point for Americans when it comes to cooking is experiencing fatigue from making the same recipes over and over again (51%). More than seven in 10 say they’re interested in having more variety in the food they cook every week (71%).

However, following recipes isn’t always the easy way out, since 48 percent find recipe cook times inaccurate, citing that it actually takes twice as long as the directions claim. Nearly 60 percent of people find their time to be more valuable than ever these days, and if their time cooking was cut in half, they would watch television, read, sleep, exercise, or engage in self-care.

More than half the poll (55%) turn to meal kits and nearly one-third (29%) use heat-and-eat meals to cut down cooking times, with 55 percent saying they’re likely to use them on Fridays — removing the worry of cooking a satisfying meal after a long week.

“In 2020, we saw people take a new interest in cooking to make the best of their time at home during the start of the pandemic,” says Erik Jensen, President of Home Chef, in a statement. “As people’s behaviors continue to evolve and schedules become busy again, Americans are seeking time-saving mealtime options that deliver on variety and provide a feeling of homemade.”

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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