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Eating and Cooking During COVID-19; Lessons in Tart Improvisation

May 01, 2020

By: Allison Febrey, Specialist, FMI Foundation
Trends COVID Inforgraphic

On day twenty-five of home-sheltering, I attempted to make a caramelized onion-mushroom tart. I went off-script and did not use a recipe—I had onions and mushrooms and thought they’d make a nice tart together. My attempt at improvising was a mess. I burnt the onions and failed to make anything resembling tart dough. Luckily, my husband and I had leftovers that we could eat for a family meal together. Making a family meal at home happen during a pandemic has challenges at various levels— including the actual execution of the meal—but at least the “at home” part is decidedly taken care of.

Changes to How Consumers Eat

I am not alone in changing how I eat right now. According to the U.S. Grocery Shoppers Trends COVID-19 Tracker survey, 76% of consumers have changed how they eat due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While I do not always plan my meals, 27% of consumers are planning more meals in advance these days. Some consumers (20%), myself included, are trying new dishes more often. I can only hope others are having more success with their kitchen experiments than I did with my tart.

Changes to How Consumers Cook

When cooking, consumers’ top priorities include using perishable foods before they go bad (44%) and minimizing waste (37%). For me, cooking is the most exciting part of my day—its tangible outcome results in sustaining food. But there are other rewards to it that others and I experience, such as having something interesting (36%) and having something comforting to eat (33%).

More Family Meals

As can be expected through home-sheltering, our family’s cooking has increased dramatically. We are not alone—41% of shoppers are cooking more meals. While it is easy to feel alone right now, we know that our mealtime together improves our family connectedness. Finding a comforting constant during this time feels like trying to catch a fish with your bare hands but sharing meals together—in person or virtually—provides some stability and connection.

The following evening, I attempted the tart again. It came out looking more like pizza but tasted delicious. All in all, a successful family meal.

To learn more about the consumer experience during this period of COVIUD-19 home sheltering, visit our U.S. Grocery Shoppers Trends COVID-19 Tracker and join us for a webinar on May 7th. FMI will be continuing to track consumer attitudes and perceptions over the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more insights from the shoppers’ perspective.

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