You might think that cooking at home for your family has never been more popular. TV schedules are crammed with cooking shows, and many of the best-selling non-fiction books on Amazon.com are related to cookery, baking, and diet.
So, in this article, we delve deeper into the statistics around home cooking versus eating out at restaurants, ordering takeaway food, and cooking at home using prepared meal kits.
Here are eight fascinating sets of stats around cooking at home, based on statistical research. Read and digest the data, then make up your own mind before booking that restaurant table for the fifth time this week.
Table of Contents
90% of Americans don’t like to cook
(and that’s having a negative effect on their bank balances)
For the minority of U.S. citizens, dining out is a treat that they plan and budget for. But for the majority, eating out or buying a takeaway is the norm almost every night of the week.
As a result of this change in behavior, small business start-ups in the restaurant, café, and take-out niche are booming.
According to a survey published in the Harvard Business Review, Americans fall into one of three categories:
- 15 percent said they love to cook
- 50 percent said they hate to cook
- 35 percent are ambivalent about cooking
Interestingly, 15 years later, a new batch of statistics showed that these percentages have changed:
- 10 percent said they love to cook
- 45 percent said they hated it
- 45 percent were on the fence
Americans are spending more on food
According to a 2017 news release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, statistics on consumer expenditure show that food spending has increased by 7.3 percent. Of that increase, home food spending is up 7.8 percent, and food bought away from home is up by 6.7 percent.
What’s the true cost of eating in restaurants?
According to research data published by Moneyunder30.com, the average American household spends around $3,000 every year on dining out.
So, why is dining out so expensive? Well, to be profitable, the markup charged by restaurants on the food they serve is about 300 percent. That means you’re paying for the convenience of having the food cooked for you and for the service you receive.
In fact, if you cooked your favorite restaurant meal at home, you could make savings. For example, a $15 meal in a restaurant would cost you just $5. So, a restaurant meal could be up to 325 percent more expensive than a $5 dollar meal you cooked yourself!
That said, there are many reasons why people choose to eat out, rather than cooking at home such as trying something new, socializing, celebrating a special occasion, or just to enjoy a break from the usual routine.
Americans can’t get enough of fast food
According to a survey carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than fast food is the choice of one in three adults.
The survey was compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics and showed that between 2013 and 2016, over 36 percent of adults ate a fast food meal on any given day. And age had a bearing on how much fast food people ate:
- 45 percent of adults aged 20 to 39 ate fast food
- 24 percent of adults over 60 had fast food as a snack or a meal
Of the sexes, men are more likely to eat fast food than women. Non-Hispanic black adults (42 percent) ate fast food compared to other races. Income also played a vital role in how often people often people ate fast food. And contrary to popular stereotypes, those with higher incomes were more likely to eat fast food than those on lower incomes who prefer to cook at home.
Home cooking increased between 2003 and 2016
According to statistics produced by the Nutrition Journal and published by Biomed Central, home cooking in U.S. households increased between 2003 and 2016.
The percentage of college-educated men cooking for themselves and their families increased from just 37.9 percent in 2003 to 51.9 percent in 2016. However, men with less than high school education who cook at home remained unchanged at 33.2 percent.
As for the ladies, the number of women who have a college education who cook at home increased from 64.7 percent in 2003 to 68.7 percent in 2016. The percentage of women without a high school education who cook at home remained unchanged at 72.3 percent. The women who had less education on average spent more time cooking each day than women who had a high-school education, although the opposite was true for men.
In the ethnic groups, the percentage of men who cook increased across all the categories with the exception of non-Hispanic blacks. Among women, the only ethnic group where the percentage of home cooks increased was in non-Hispanic whites. Among both groups, the lowest percentage who cooked at home were non-Hispanic blacks, while non-Hispanic others spent the most amount of time cooking.
Home cooking is the main ingredient in a healthy diet
A survey carried out by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research showed that those who cook at home typically eat a healthier diet and consume fewer calories than people who cook less.
The findings also suggested that those who frequently cooked at home (six to seven nights per week) also ate fewer calories on the occasions when they did eat out.
The survey of 9,000 adults aged 20 and older showed that 8 percent of adults who cooked dinner at home once a week or less consumed an average of 2,301 calories per day, including 135 grams of sugar and 84 grams of fat. In contrast, 48 percent of those surveyed who cooked at home more than six times a week consumed a daily average of 2,164 calories, including 119 grams of sugar and 81 grams of fat.
The research also showed that home cooks frequently use less frozen food and are less likely to order fast foods on days when they eat out.
Home cooking is better for your health, say statistics
According to USDA Economic Research Service analysis, since 1977 the number of Americans cooking at home is declining.
And, worryingly, the calorific content of fast food and restaurant meals has grown exponentially, while the overall percentage of calories in home cooked meals has decreased. That has contributed to the current obesity epidemic. But why?
Well, home prepared food is healthier, period. People who eat at home consume fewer calories. When restaurant dishes and home cooked food are compared, home cooked food typically contains fewer calories and is also healthier.
When people cook at home, they tend to eat fewer carbohydrates, less fat, and less sugar than those who cook less. Home cooks also eat more calcium, iron, and fiber than those who dine out frequently. The research also found that home cooks eat more whole grains, fruits, and veggies too.
People who cook at home in preference to eating out six or seven days per week are generally less likely to suffer from health problems such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and gastrointestinal cancers.
Although that sounds like great news for those who prefer eating at home to dining out, other studies have found that almost half the food eaten at home by children aged from two to 18 years old actually comprises fast food or ready meals.
Financial savings of cooking at home vs. eating out
People who cook at home more than eating out or ordering take-out meals can save money, according to statistics compiled by Forbes magazine. So, how much money can you save by cooking at home?
Data from Priceonomics allows the comparison of the average cost per serving of popular dinner dishes when cooked from scratch, ordered in a restaurant, or from a meal kit delivery service. So, the average price per serving, based on 86 popular meals is:
- Restaurant: $20.87
- Meal kit: $12.53
- Home cooking: $4.31
On average, it works out nearly five times more costly to order a restaurant meal than it is to cook the same meal at home. Also, the kind of food you cook will have a big influence on the amount of cash you save. For example, you’ll save lots of money on carb-based meals such as pizza or pasta, but the most savings can be made when cooking protein-based meals when compared to meal kits or restaurant meals.
You’ll pay the most in restaurants for meals that contain chicken, beef, or pork. Also close to the top of the list are pasta-based meals which you can easily make at home for an 80 to 90 percent saving per serving.
On the face of it, meal kits look like a good option for home cooks. Meal kits are delivered to your home, and they contain all the raw ingredients that you’ll need to cook a meal. However, meal kits are sold at a premium, which works out far more expensive than shopping for the ingredients you need and then cooking from scratch.
Meals such as pasta-based or veggie options are much cheaper to make at home from scratch, without paying for a meal kit.
Wrapping it up
In a nutshell, you can save money by cooking food from scratch at home. Also, cooking at home is healthier for you and your family. You’ll eat fewer carbohydrates and fats, and your intake of healthy foods such as veggies, fruits, and whole grains will be greater than if you dined out every night. Eating out in restaurants, buying meal kits, and ordering fast food take-outs will cost you much more than cooking from scratch in the comfort of your home kitchen.
So, statistically and according to many scientific studies and research papers, home cooking comes out top right across the board.