Rattle those pots and pans

U.S. consumers are cooking more often, experimenting with food and using time in their kitchen to help save money and eat healthier, according to the Be Cook Aware survey of 1,000 consumers in March 2012 by the DuPont Teflon brand, conducted to understand how the past year's trends have impacted America's cooking and eating behaviors at home.


Compared to this time last year, approximately three-quarters of consumers (72 percent) indicated ways in which they have changed how they cook and eat in their home.  More than one-third of consumers (37 percent) reported they are cooking more often, and more than one-fourth (26 percent) are experimenting more with food.  Others (23 percent) are eating more natural or organic foods and 19 percent are eating more frozen foods.


Again, compared to last yhear, nine in 10 (89 percent) are paying more attention to certain factors when purchasing food for their home.  Seventy-three percent named price as a factor they consider more frequently, followed by ingredients (48 percent) and nutritional information (46 percent).  When it comes to food choices, fresh ingredients (52 percent) are at the top of the list of what's important to consumers, followed by foods with less fat (49 percent), less sugar (44 percent), less salt (44 percent) and more nutrients (41 percent).


When it comes to food purchases, 50 percent reported they are taking advantage of in-store sales and 45 percent report buying only what they need, more often. Forty-three percent are increasing their use of coupons, 35 percent are buying fresh ingredients more often and 25 percent are participating in store loyalty programs, among others.  When asked which behaviors they are more likely to engage in over the next year, the number one answer was 'eat leftovers' (42 percent), followed by 'recycle' (36 percent), 'cook smaller portions' (30 percent), 'buy local foods' (23 percent), 'wash dishes by hand' (21 percent) and 'buy cheaper ingredients' (20 percent).


Increased attention to health and price are not limiting consumers' imagination and enjoyment in the kitchen.  Over the past year, consumers name using new recipes (47 percent), eating with friends and family (30 percent), using different cooking techniques such as fondue and grilling (19 percent) and experimenting with international cuisines (14 percent) as ways they are making cooking and eating in their homes more fun.  The majority of consumers are using new or shared recipes to inspire their cooking (59 percent using online recipes, cookbooks, recipes from family, friends, cooking shows and apps).


Consumers' biggest challenge in the kitchen, not surprisingly, is cleaning up after cooking (40 percent), followed by preparation time (26 percent) and making foods that everyone likes to eat (24 percent).  The most commonly used cookware is nonstick (66 percent), followed by stainless steel (48 percent) and cast iron (23 percent). 


"Societal and economic shifts such as the fluctuating economy, combined with evolving national demographics and the introduction of new nutritional guidelines, are likely to have heightened people's awareness of the need to evolve eating and cooking behavior," says Christa Kaiser, global business segment manager, Teflon nonstick coatings systems.  "Consumers are living smarter and healthier, and having more fun in the process."