Nearly all Canadians (91%) identify cooking from scratch as a way to save on groceries

July 5, 2023
  • 81% of Canadians say they are adapting the meals they make to adjust to rising ingredient costs.
  • More than six in ten consumers (63%) say ease is the most important factor when planning what meals to cook at home.
  • 88% of Canadian consumers agree that self-made, scratch meals are more satisfying.

Grocery prices remain elevated (9.0% as of May 2023*) in Canada and, according to new Mintel research, Canadians are adapting their behaviours and buying habits to accommodate the economic uncertainty. The overwhelming majority  (91%) of Canadians with any cooking or meal planning responsibility agree that cooking from scratch is a good way to save money on groceries, with 81% saying they are adapting the meals they make at home to adjust to the rising cost of ingredients (eg meat, produce). Mintel research also shows the majority (77%) of consumers say that the rise in food prices is pushing them to plan more of their meals ahead of time to avoid waste.

Furthermore, while it’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic incentivized consumers around the world to elevate their at-home cooking skills, three in five (60%) Canadians say their cooking skills have improved compared to before the start of the pandemic, and two-thirds (65%) admit to now cooking at home more often.

Joel Gregoire, Director of Food and Drink, Mintel Reports Canada, said:

“By and large, Canadians have a rich food culture centered around home cooking, and as many contend with high inflation and economic uncertainty, the ability to cook at home translates to the ability to save money. Consumers’ increased interest in scratch cooking opens up many opportunities for brands to promote cooking, including pre-portioned kits with clear, easy-to-follow instructions. Although consumer interest in eating out has rebounded, improved cooking skills stand to be a long-term benefit for companies more reliant on at-home occasions, which will undoubtedly come into greater focus should Canada experience continued economic volatility.”

When planning or cooking meals, ease matters most

When preparing meals to make at home, more than six in ten (63%) Canadians agree that ease is the most important factor, followed by whether or not the meal is healthy (55%) and the time it takes to prepare (51%), spotlighting that two of the top three considerations revolve around convenience. That said, in an interesting turn given the high rate of food inflation, only 38% of Canadian consumers say that low-priced ingredients matter when cooking or preparing home-cooked meals. In other words, value can be conveyed in ways other than price. 

Canadians’ strong desire for convenience is further proven when it comes to trying new recipes: only a quarter (24%) of consumers state that trying a new recipe is important when planning/cooking home-cooked meals versus 44% who say familiarity is important. This underscores a particular challenge for those responsible for innovation in the food industry: Canadians gravitate to what they know.

“Despite how much more expensive groceries have become of late, the price of ingredients has less of an impact on what meals consumers make compared to factors like ease, speed, and health. Convenience also plays a critical role in whether or not consumers are willing to experiment. While new recipes can often be exciting, they also come with a level of uncertainty and the need for greater focus. Our research shows that 69% of consumers say they like to cook while also doing something else, indicating they like the idea of being able to prepare meals without needing to dedicate all of their concentration to it. For brands that innovate in the grocery food and drink space, this points to the importance of grounding new offerings in what is already familiar to consumers,” continued Gregoire.

Canadians feel a strong emotional connection to cooking

Finally, nearly all Canadians agree that cooking is a way to feel accomplishment as 88% say that meals made from scratch by oneself are more satisfying. The majority (79%) of Canadians also say that cooking with others is a good way to connect, going so far as to associate cooking with relaxation and stress management (72%). 

“Brands have the opportunity to engage with consumers by connecting to the sentiments that cooking at home is a flexible way to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, as well as feel a sense of accomplishment. Following the pandemic, greater focus is being placed on mental health, including its connection to food and drink. Brands that promote the kitchen as a sanctuary from day-to-day stresses and showcase how their products, such as meal kits, contribute to alleviating that stress, will resonate,” concluded Gregoire.

Additional research on Canadian consumer attitudes toward alcohol alternatives and interviews with the analyst are available upon request from the Mintel Press Office. For those interested in purchasing the full report, please visit the Mintel Store.

*Statistics Canada May 2023

Joel Gregoire
Joel Gregoire

Joel is the Associate Director for Mintel’s Canada Food and Drink Reports.

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