By Hartman Group
By Hartman Group
Oct. 17, 2014 – Everybody’s a critic.
On the one hand, there are health experts wagging fingers at Americans and their obesity epidemic, blaming it largely on a lack of old-fashioned traditions including home-cooked meals.
On the other, people occasionally do sit down to home-cooked meals – and complain about what they’re served.
As researchers at North Carolina State University recently discovered,
“time pressures, tradeoffs to save money and the burden of pleasing
others make it difficult for mothers to enact the idealized vision of
home-cooked meals advocated by foodies and public health officials.”
it’s not just the kids who are griping, researchers said. “We rarely
observed a meal in which at least one family member didn’t complain
about the food they were served.”
Welcome to the new age of eating.
love of food is exploding in proportion to its shrinking interest in
cooking from scratch – or apparently, eating food someone else cooked
We’re becoming a country of connoisseurs, but not
cooks. Instead, we take foods that are precooked from restaurants and
retailers and combine them into a yummy meal. A little pasta here, some
pesto there, a loaf of locally baked focaccia and a tub of precut
vegetables – what’s known in the parlance as “meal components” – and
People might call it cooking at home, but it’s not cooking from scratch. It’s more like meal assembly.
new way of putting together meals fits people’s modern lifestyles. They
can decide in the afternoon what they want for dinner, then stop on the
way home at stores carrying those “components.”
It’s a phenomenon that helps explain why more than half of shopping trips involve going to two or more stores.
are rising to these new types of eating occasions by offering
higher-quality prepared foods. They’re also talking to consumers more
online – for example, via Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest, where
photos of their foods might prompt people who are contemplating an
And they are venturing into home delivery of food
in various forms, from groceries to prepared ingredients for cooking to
fully cooked meals.
No doubt it’s changing our tastes and
preferences, as many a retirement community dweller can attest. They are
perhaps the last generation of scratch cooking standard-bearers.
It’s an exciting new era of food shopping and eating in which almost anything seems possible – except cooking from scratch.
Hartman Group provides consumer-centric approach to custom market
research and consulting, based in Bellevue, Wash. Visit their website at