December 19/Chicago/Press Release -- With the holidays quickly approaching, the minds of many Americans will turn to seasonal cooking and their big holiday meal, but will they enjoy slaving away in the kitchen? According to new research from Mintel, cooking at home is heating up, with more than one quarter (26%) of American consumers saying that they “love” cooking versus only a mere 9% who claim to dislike putting their apron on.

Furthermore, up to 20% of U.S. consumers describe their cooking skills level as advanced, meanwhile almost half (46%) feel they have at least an intermediate level.

Today, 35% of American consumers claim to like cooking; 31% say that they “don’t mind” cooking, and only 9% really dislike cooking.

Even in the likelihood that consumers have more discretionary income, cost continues to impact how and where they are deciding to eat. More than half (54%) of Americans who cook agree cooking at home is cheaper than eating at restaurants and 43% believe cooking at home is cheaper than buying prepared foods at a store.

Gretchen Grabowski, leisure analyst at Mintel, said, “This enthusiasm for cooking at home is likely to persist despite having more disposable income that could be spent dining out. In addition to a perception that cooking is more cost effective, it is also a principal way in which Americans are bettering their health, bonding with family, and preserving their own familial traditions. There is also an element of surprise or adventure involved in cooking at home, as those who participate can experiment with new foods and learn about other cultures.”
In addition, data from Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) shows that almost three in 10 (29%) food products launched between January and September 2012 are private label, representing an increase in share of about four percentage points over 2011.

“As Americans are presented with a wider variety of private label food offerings -- and cheaper alternatives to purchasing the otherwise same quality goods -- they will more easily be able to pursue interests in cooking at home, regardless of their respective household incomes,” Gretchen Grabowski continues.

Cost is always a key factor when it comes to cooking at home, but nutrition is proving to be equally as important. Nearly half (46%) of Mintel respondents who cook strongly agree that cooking at home is a healthier option to purchasing prepared foods from a store and 43% agree that home cooking is healthier than eating at restaurants.

Furthermore, 43% of Americans say buying and using food packaging that maintains freshness and taste is very important and 35% agree that using ingredients with the highest nutritional value is very important. Meanwhile, 23% believe supporting local food and produce vendors, such as those found at the ever increasing farmers markets, is very important; but only 13% feel the strong need to buy organic food or ingredients.

However, as many holiday hosts will attest to, cooking is not without its downsides. Perhaps not surprisingly, the main reason that stops people from cooking at home (according to 30% of Americans) is the unenjoyable clean-up that is always required, while 23% say they just don’t have the time and 19% say that cooking just for themselves is not worth it.