Another finding? One quarter of households eat in front of a screen. 

By Katherine Martinelli
December 19, 2018
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The new “State of the Dinner Plate” survey by Nielsen, conducted on behalf of the meal kit service Plated, found that people are cooking at home more than eating out, and that social media plays a role before, during, and after the process of meal prep.

The survey is full of interesting tidbits about the way Americans eat. For one, it shows that even though take-out is as easy as one, two, click, 70% of households are still preparing dinner at home at least 5 days a week (though according to the census we spend way more on eating out than buying groceries). And, despite all advice out there about meal planning and weekend prep to speed up weeknights, 3 in 4 households don’t plan their weekly meals ahead (although at 38% millennials are more likely to put some forethought into the meal plan). Mostly, we’re all just winging it and hoping for the best.

According to the State of the Dinner Plate, one quarter of households eat in front of a screen, but at least we’re doing it together; one third of households eat dinner together every night. 54% of partnered folks like to prepare dinner with their significant other (millennials are even more into cooking as a couple), and 31% of families said they like to get the kids involved in the cooking.

"We're focused on making it easy for people to create great meals at home—experiences that are really worth it. With that in mind, we wanted take a deeper look at how home cooks across the country are doing dinner today, from meal planning and cooking preferences to eating habits and the role that technology plays in the overall process," said Dan Kashman, Chief Marketing Officer of Plated on the motivation behind the survey.

But the real meat (er, plant-based protein) of the survey gives insight into the role of social media on the way we cook and eat. It’s no big surprise that 22% of cooks overall and 44% of millennials post pics of their home cooked dinners, but the real takeaway is that this is also where home cooks are getting their inspiration. Only 17% of respondents said they saw something in a cookbook that influenced them to try a new recipe, as opposed to 34% who were inspired by social media. Not surprisingly, millennials are even more prone (almost 50%) to turn to Instagram and other social media platforms as their culinary muse.

And what would a modern survey be without separate stats about millennials? Turns out, everyone’s favorite generation to complain about is also getting down in the kitchen. In addition to planning their meals ahead, cooking with loved ones, and posting on social, millennials are also proving to be an adventurous group in the kitchen: Over one quarter said they’d tried a new recipe in the last week, while more than half reported trying a new recipe within the last two weeks.

So, maybe the intermingling of technology and food isn’t all bad. Groceries are easier than ever to get delivered, and all that scrolling and posting, scrolling and posting is actually getting people in the kitchen to cook. And, whether anyone is actually cooking from them or not, cookbook sales are up so we don’t have to worry about their demise just yet. You can find all of the State of the Dinner Plate results on the Plated website.

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