Six out of ten Americans cook at home more than five times a week. Back in 2019, only 33.14% of Americans had declared the same, and another 37.22% said they only manage to cook meals at home three to five times a week.
Does this mean that home cooking is making a comeback in the US? Or are Americans starting to enjoy spending time in the kitchen?
To give you an insight into the eating habits of Americans and how they’ve changed since the pandemic, we went through the latest statistics and surveys. Read on to learn how Americans feel about home cooking, how many hours they spend in the kitchen, their attitudes toward cooking, and more.
Fascinating Facts and Stats
- 60% of Americans cook at home more than five days a week. (Taste of Home)
- Americans spend around 400 hours a year in the kitchen. (Bosch Home Appliances, Statista)
- With 84%, hamburgers and cheeseburgers are America’s most popular dishes. (Statista)
- With 80%, women are the leading planners and meal preppers in the family. (National Library of Medicine)
- Mothers spend an average of 68 minutes per day on meal preparation. (Pew Research)
- 89% of Millennials cook meals at home. (Statista)
- Americans spend an average of $3030 on eating out. (Statista, Statista)
- 53% of Americans feel inspired to try a recipe they’ve seen on social media. (Study Finds)
How Many Americans Cook at Home
1. 60% of Americans cook at home more than five days a week.
A recent survey of more than 4,000 people over the age of 18 found that Americans are now cooking at home more than ever. Moreover, 68% of respondents who cook their meals at home revealed they are focused on eating meals that are healthy and made of quality ingredients. Also, 53% said they are looking for easier ways to prep meals, like simple and quick recipes but may extend to new kitchen equipment.
2. Over 90% of Americans cook a meal at home at least once a week.
Statistics show that only 7% of Americans do not cook at home on a weekly basis. But this does not mean that the majority enjoy cooking. In fact, when it comes to home cooking, the attitudes of Americans are divided as 45% declared they do not enjoy cooking, and another 45% said they have mixed feelings about it. Only 10% of Americans declared they love to cook.
3. Americans spend around 400 hours a year in the kitchen.
According to a recent survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Bosch Home Appliances, Americans spend roughly 67 minutes in the kitchen every day, which equals approximately 400 hours a year.
Statistics from 2019 show that only 8.4% of Americans spent more than an hour cooking a weeknight meal. The same report shows that 41.43% spent less than half an hour, and 50.17% spent between 30 to 60 minutes preparing meals.
4. At least 50% of Americans cook dinner every day.
Dinner is the most-cooked meal of Americans, and Monday is the day when 60% of them make an effort to prepare it from scratch. Data also shows that the share of Americans cooking dinner throughout the week declines to 49% on Fridays and 50% on Saturdays, which are the days when most decide to either eat out or prepare their meal from pre-packaged or frozen food. Additionally, 58% of Americans said that they eat homemade dinner on Tuesdays, and 56% said the same for Wednesdays and Thursdays.
5. 4% of Americans never sit down for a family dinner.
Three-quarters of American adults who share a household with at least one other person find the time to sit down for a family dinner at least once a week. Of these, nearly 30% said they have family dinners with all members of their household every single day. Another 23% said they do so 4-6 times a week, while 16% do it just 2-3 times every week. Ten percent of US adults who live with other members have dinner together only on special occasions, while 14% just once a week or less.
U.S. Cooking Habits
6. With 84%, hamburgers, and cheeseburgers are America’s most popular dishes.
Burgers are the number one dish in the US, and traditionally the most home-cooked meal in the country. Mashed potatoes rank second, while french fries and grilled cheese are the favorite meals of 83% of Americans. Steak and baked potatoes, and corn on the cob are the number one choice for 81%, while fried chicken is the meal of choice for 80%. Hash brown and steak and fries complete the list of top ten most loved foods in the US with 79% each.
7. Chinese is the number-one ethnic cuisine in the US.
Chinese food has an average of 3.35 million searches per month in America. And despite popular opinion that Mexican is a threat to every American household, it comes in second with an average of 1.22 million Google searches per month. Thai food ranks third with a little over 823,000 monthly Google searches. Indian and Korean follow with 673,000 and 246,000 monthly Google searches, respectively.
Based on the results from a similar study done in 2019, it seems Thai food has not only gained in popularity but has replaced the good old Italian pasta and pizza. Also, Japanese cuisine used to rank as the sixth favorite, but it’s now replaced with Hawaiian.
Demographics of Americans Who Cook at Home
8. With 80%, women are the family’s leading planners and meal preppers.
A recent study exploring sex distribution in meal prepping in the US shows women cook more than men. When asked who does most of the planning or preparing of meals in the family, 80% of women said yes vs 40% of men. The overlap indicates the times when women and men share this responsibility.
Moreover, 85.97% of women between the ages of 35 and 44 are most involved in planning and preparing meals, followed by women aged 55 to 63, and those over 65+ with 82.30% and 82.26%, respectively.
In the realm of men with 43.20%, the age group between 55 and 64 is the one that’s most focused on meal prepping, followed by a younger group of men (25–34 years) with 42.45%. Looking at data from both genders, the youngest group (18–24 years) is the least involved in home cooking, or 49.81% of women vs. 34.05% of men.
9. Mothers spend an average of 68 minutes per day on meal preparation.
In general, dads spend 23 minutes on meal preparation. Statistics show that a massive 80% of moms are the primary meal preppers. Also, 10% of moms say meal prepping is something they equally share with dads, though the percentage of dads who declared the same is higher at 20 points.
In households where moms are in charge of meal prepping, the average time spent in the kitchen is 75 minutes. The same role costs dads only 43 minutes. What is interesting is that the gap persists even among parents who say they do not usually handle meal preparation. Moms in this category spend an average of 30 minutes on meal prep daily, while fathers spend around 15 minutes.
10. 89% of Millennials cook meals at home.
Statistics about the cooking practices of Millennials in North America show that this age group is also fond of baking and preparing meals for friends and family. In fact, 76% of Millennials said they bake, and 58% declared they typically make home-cooked meals for their friends and family.
Compared to Millennials, the number of Gen Zers who cook their own meals is lower at 73% while only 53% are fans of baking. Cooking for friends and family is the segment where Millennials and Gen Zers show similar affinities. Namely, 49% of Gen Zers said they make time to prepare meals for their friends and family.
11. Around 60% of consumers earning under $50k a year cook meals every day.
Consumers with an income of under $50,000 a year are most likely to prepare meals from scratch from Mondays to Sundays and are least likely to dine in restaurants, get takeout, or order delivery. What’s more, research shows that from Sunday to Wednesday, all income groups, even those earning over $100k a year, tend to cook their own meals from scratch.
Fridays are the days when groups with higher incomes are less likely to cook at home. Namely, around 40% of consumers with income of over $100k a year and 30% of those with income between $50k to $100k.
Cost of Eating Out vs Cooking at Home in the US
12. Americans spend an average of $155.62 on groceries every time they visit a store.
The majority of Americans go to the grocery at least eight times a month. And according to a recent grocery store shopping survey, over 70% spend at least $100 per trip. Numbers further show that 35% of Americans spend less than $100 per shopping trip, 38% spend from $100 to $199 per trip, and 27% spend more than $200.
13. Americans spend an average of $3030 on eating out.
Back in 2015, Americans were spending an average of $3,008 a year in restaurants. And even though this amount was growing exponentially and peaked at $3,526 in 2019, the pandemic significantly affected the ability of US citizens to dine out. This caused the spending on this item to drop to a record low level of $2,375. However, as per the latest figures, sales in food service and drinking places in the US are booming again and, in 2021, reached a record high of $876,33 billion.
14. Up to 40% of the food supply in the US is wasted.
Even though the US government does not have an exact number on how much of the food prepared at home is lost or wasted, estimates are that a single person (which can qualify as a household), wastes an average of exactly 218.9 pounds of food. At a retail and consumer level, as per the estimates, 31% of the food is lost or wasted. This corresponds to around $161 billion or 133 billion pounds of food waste.
Impact of COVID on Cooking Habits and Behaviors in the US
15. A total of 85% of people changed their food habits as a result of the pandemic.
Statistics from the 2020 Food & Health Survey, revealed that the pandemic altered the food habits of the majority of Americans. Namely, 60% declared that thanks to COVID-19, they started to cook more at home, 32% snack more than they did before, and 30% disclosed they now wash fresh produce more often. Interestingly, 27% of Americans revealed they now think about food more than usual.
16. 81% of Americans enjoy cooking more than they did before COVID-19.
It appears the pandemic has not only changed the eating habits of Americans but also how they feel about home cooking and spending time in the kitchen. Namely, 78% reported that they enjoy baking more, and another 62% said they’re seeking new recipes more than they did before the pandemic. The change extends to household appliances and the kitchen too. In fact, 78% reported they now use household appliances more than ever, and 76% said they are now interested in improving the way their kitchen is organized.
Impact of Social Media on How Often Americans Cook
17. 31% of Americans take photos of the food they cook.
Smartphones and social media have a major influence on how people experience food. A recent survey revealed that 22% of Americans take food photos during special occasions such as weddings or parties, 20% snap photos of meals they order in restaurants, and 13% do it with food that someone has prepared for them. Only 28% of Americans never take food photos, not even of the food they’ve cooked.
18. 53% of Americans feel inspired to try a recipe they’ve seen on social media.
A study about how social media impacts Americans’ cooking habits found that 85% percent of people experienced food cravings because of something they saw on social media. Also, 22% said social media made them try old recipes from a few decades ago, and 22% tried plant-based alternatives to meat. Similarly, 21% said they tried cooking recipes that included trendy fruits. One respondent declared they even tried eating watermelon and mustard after seeing it on TikTok.