Cooking Trends in the United States : Are We Really Becoming a Fast Food Country?
The Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) collects data on household characteristics as well as on residential energy consumption. The first RECS was conducted in 1978 and the eleventh and most recent survey was conducted in 2001. This report will refer to data collected in the 1993 and 2001 RECS.
The data indicate that Americans are indeed cooking less at home in 2001 than they were in 1993. Figure 1 shows that the percentage of households who report cooking “two or more times a day” dropped from 35.9 percent in 1993 to 32.1 percent in 2001. The percentage of households cooking, on average, “once a day” declined as well, from 44.3 percent in 1993 to 40.5 percent in 2001. Consequently, the percentage of households reporting cooking “a few times a week” and “once a week or less” increased.
1. Number of Meals Cooked in the Home for
Households living in single-family homes (69 percent of all U.S. households), including single-family attached homes such as townhouses, showed significant changes in their home cooking patterns from 1993 to 2001 (See Figure 2). Mirroring the overall U.S. pattern, households in single-family homes reporting cooking hot meals every day decreased, while the percentage reporting cooking a few meals per week or once a week or less increased. The changes from 1993 to 2001 for households living in apartments (25 percent of all U.S. households) and mobile homes (6 percent of all U.S. households) were not statistically significant.
Figure 2. Number
of Meals Cooked in the Home, for Households living
Household size is another factor that relates to the frequency of meal-cooking at home. Figure 3 shows the percentage of households that cook at least one meal per day at home (combining the categories of "two or more meals per day" and "one meal per day") for different household sizes. As the number of members of the household increases, the tendency to cook every day increases as well. In 1993, 62.6 percent of one-person households cooked at least once a day, whereas 96.4 percent of households with six or more people cooked at home every day. By 2001, the percentage of households cooking daily had decreased for all sizes (down to 57.8 percent for one-person households and 89.4 percent for six or more person households) but there still remains a clear trend in which larger households more frequently cook at home.
3. Percent of Households that Cook at Least Once a Day by
Figure 4 and Table 1 show the relationships between household size and frequency of cooking at home in 2001. The clearest trend is in the number of households who cooked twice a day or more, with a direct correlation between household size and tendency to cook this often. There is no statistically significant correlation between household size and tendency to cook exactly once a day. There is a trend in the households who report cooking “a few meals per week or less” (this category combines “a few meals per week” and “once a week or less”) with smaller households being more likely than larger ones to cook this often.
Households in Mobile Homes Cook at Home the Most
The relationship between type of home and frequency of cooking meals in 2001 is shown in Figure 5 and Table 2. Households living in mobile homes are the most likely of all types of households to cook twice a day or more (40.7 percent of all households living in mobile homes). In fact, households in mobile homes are more likely to cook twice a day or more than to cook once a day, unlike households in apartments and single-family homes. Households in apartments and single-family homes more frequently cook once a day.
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Release date: November 25, 2002
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