Perceptions about home cooking: an integrative review of qualitative studies

Ana Cláudia Mazzonetto Moira Dean Giovanna Medeiros Rataichesck Fiates About the authors

Resumo

O objetivo da presente revisão integrativa foi identificar estudos qualitativos que abordam a percepção de indivíduos sobre o ato de cozinhar no ambiente doméstico. Realizou-se busca sistemática em português e inglês nas bases de dados Scopus e SciELO, sem limite de data e idioma. Foram identificados e selecionados 26 artigos publicados entre os anos de 2004 e 2017 que exploraram como objetivo principal, ou como resultado secundário, perspectivas de indivíduos sobre o ato de cozinhar. Mais da metade foi realizada em países de língua inglesa. Os estudos foram conduzidos com homens e mulheres, adultos e idosos, residentes em área rural e urbana de países orientais e ocidentais, desenvolvidos e em desenvolvimento. Análise temática dos estudos revelou que os indivíduos planejam e executam o ato de cozinhar de formas variadas e que cozinhar também é entendido de forma ampla e diversa. As motivações para cozinhar envolveram questões cognitivas, práticas, afetivas e emocionais. Diferentes influências foram identificadas. A presença (ou ausência) de modelo familiar, morar sozinho, ter ou não confiança e habilidade para cozinhar aparecem como facilitadores e barreiras. O reconhecimento da heterogeneidade dos fatores que influenciam o ato de cozinhar podem informar a criação e o desenvolvimento de orientações e intervenções com a finalidade de estimulá-lo.

Palavras-chave
Culinária; Pesquisa qualitativa; Revisão; Cozinhar

Abstract

This study aimed to review qualitative studies on perceptions of home cooking. A systematic search was conducted in Scopus and SciELO databases using English and Portuguese terms related to home cooking, without date or language restrictions. Twenty-six articles, published between 2004 and 2017, investigated, whether as a primary objective or as a secondary finding, the perceptions of individuals on home cooking. More than half of the studies were conducted in English-speaking countries. Study participants included women and men, adults and seniors as well as residents of urban and rural areas, Eastern and Western countries, and developing and developed nations. Thematic analysis showed that home cooking has different interpretations and meanings in diverse contexts and revealed differences in how individuals plan and cook their meals at home. Cognitive, practical, affective, and emotional factors are the major motivators to home meal preparation. Having a cooking role model in the family, cooking confidence and skills, and living alone were reported as facilitators of home cooking. A better understanding of the heterogeneity of perceptions and meanings of home cooking can contribute to the development of effective and culturally appropriate interventions for stimulating healthy cooking habits.

Key words
Meal; Qualitative research; Review; Cooking

Introduction

The eating habits of Western urban societies have been constantly changing. Since the mid-20th century, individuals have devoted less time to home meal preparation11 Warde A, Cheng S-L, Olsen W, Southerton D. Changes in the practice of eating. Acta Sociologica 2007; 50(4):363-385.

2 Moser A. Food preparation patterns in german family households. An econometric approach with time budget data. Appetite 2010; 55(1):99-107.

3 Hamrick KS, Andrews M, Guthrie J, Hopkins D, McClelland K. How much time do americans spend on food?. Washington: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service; 2011.
-44 Soliah LAL, Walter JM, Jones SA. Benefits and barriers to healthful eating: What are the consequences of decreased food preparation ability? Am J Lifestyle Med 2012; 6(2):152-158.. This reduction in home cooking is believed to be associated with the increasing unhealthy food choices made by modern society55 Caraher M, Lang T. Can't cook, won't cook: A review of cooking skills and their relevance to health promotion. Int J Health Promot Edu 1999; 37(3):89-100.

6 Caraher M, Lange T, Dixon P. The influence of tv and celebrity chefs on public attitudes and behavior among the english public. J Study Food Soc 2000; 4(1):27-46.

7 Caraher M, Seeley A. Cooking in schools: Lessons from the uk. J Home Economics Institute Austr 2010; 17(1):2-9.
-88 Caraher MD, Dixon P, Carr-Hill R, Lang T. The state of cooking in england: The relationship of cooking skills to food choice. Br Food J 1999; 101(8):590-609..

Strategies aimed at encouraging home cooking and increasing the nutritional quality of diets are gaining visibility. In Brazil, two important guidelines were published to encourage healthy eating habits. The Food and Nutrition Education Guidelines for Public Policies states that “home cooking promotes personal emancipation, develops autonomy, and contributes to sensory, cognitive, and social growth”99 Brasil. Ministério do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate à Fome (MDS). Marco de referência de educação alimentar e nutricional para as políticas públicas. Brasília: MDS; 2012.(p.68). The Food Guide for the Brazilian Population is a comprehensive guide on healthy eating. It recommends the use of “raw and minimally processed foods as opposed to ultra-processed foods”. Minimally processed foods are raw foods that have undergone industrial processes, but do not involve the addition of salt, sugar, oils, fats or other substances. Ultra-processed foods are products subjected to different processing steps and techniques and with many ingredients, such as salt, sugar, fats and substances for exclusively industrial use1010 Monteiro CA. Nutrition and health. The issue is not food, nor nutrients, so much as processing. Public Health Nutr 2009; 12(5):729-731.,1111 Monteiro CA, Levy RB, Claro RM, Castro IRRd, Cannon G. A new classification of foods based on the extent and purpose of their processing. Cad Saúde Pública 2010; 26:2039-2049..

Generally, raw and minimally processed foods need to be selected, pre-prepared, seasoned, cooked, and/or combined with other foods1212 Brasil Ministério da Saúde (MS). Guia alimentar para a população brasileira. Brasília: MS; 2014.. To follow these important health recommendations, individuals must resort to cooking. Schools and communities around the world have taken to strategies aimed at teaching cooking skills and promoting cooking habits1313 Reicks M, Trofholz AC, Stang JS, Laska MN. Impact of cooking and home food preparation interventions among adults: Outcomes and implications forfuture programs. J Nutr Educ Behav 2014; 46(4):259-276.,1414 Hollywood L, Surgenor D, Reicks M, McGowan L, Lavelle F, Spence M, Raats M, McCloat A, Mooney E, Caraher M, Dean M. Identification of behavior change techniques applied in interventions to improve cooking skills and food skills among adults. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2018: 58(17):2882-2895..

Research on cooking (and all its complexities), however, is still incipient1515 Short F. Domestisc cooking skills what are they? HEIA 2003; 10(3):13-22.

16 Short F. Kitchen secrets: The meaning of cooking in everyday life. Oxford: Bloomsbury Academic; 2006.

17 Meah A, Watson M. Saints and slackers: Challenging discourses about the decline of domestic cooking. Sociol Res Online 2011; 16(2):108-120.
-1818 Halkier B. Suitable cooking?: Performances and positionings in cooking practices among danish women. Food Cult Soc 2009; 12(3):357-377.. Short1515 Short F. Domestisc cooking skills what are they? HEIA 2003; 10(3):13-22.,1616 Short F. Kitchen secrets: The meaning of cooking in everyday life. Oxford: Bloomsbury Academic; 2006. highlighted that there is no clear relationship between knowing how to cook and cooking at home. Meah and Watson1717 Meah A, Watson M. Saints and slackers: Challenging discourses about the decline of domestic cooking. Sociol Res Online 2011; 16(2):108-120. argued that it is necessary to understand the processes involved in meal preparation and the dynamics of developing the habit of cooking. In addition, Halkier1818 Halkier B. Suitable cooking?: Performances and positionings in cooking practices among danish women. Food Cult Soc 2009; 12(3):357-377. argues that the act of cooking must be understood as a phenomenon composed of variability and subtleties and that without this understanding there is a risk that researchers and policy-makers may act in a simplistic way, conducting normative and unrealistic initiatives, underestimating the complexity of cooking.

The qualitative approach is recommended to understand a given phenomenon and the perception of individuals about the topic, including their feelings, thoughts, and experiences1919 Strauss AL, Corbin J. Pesquisa qualitativa: Técnicas e procedimentos para o desenvolvimento de teoria fundamentada. Porto Alegre: Artmed; 2008.. Thus, the aim of this study was to perform a systematic review of qualitative studies on home cooking.

Methods

The qualitative systematic review was conducted in the following steps: formulation of the guiding question, identification of inclusion criteria, data collection and treatment, data analysis, discussion of results, and critical review2020 Mendes KDS, Silveira RCdCP, Galvão CM. Revisão integrativa: Método de pesquisa para a incorporação de evidências na saúde e na enfermagem. Texto Contexto Enferm 2008; 17(4):758-764..

The guiding question was: “What do qualitative studies reveal about individuals’ perceptions of home cooking?”. Search terms were derived from Medical Subject Headings (MeSH), Health Sciences Descriptors (DeCS), and articles identified in a preliminary search of the literature. Additionally, before the final definition of the search terms, exploratory searches were carried out in order to identify key words used in the articles and thus compose the groups of terms as shown in Chart 1.

Chart 1
Search strategy used in the study.

The search in English and Portuguese was carried out on January 9, 2017, and updated on May 18, 2018, using Scopus and SciELO, without date or language restrictions. Scopus was chosen because it is the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature. SciELO was used to increase coverage of Brazilian studies. The Scopus database was searched for terms in English within the fields title, abstract, and key words using two categories of search terms, one related to home cooking and the other to qualitative research. Terms related to cooking equipment and environmental sustainability were excluded using the Boolean operator AND NOT.

The SciELO database was searched for terms in Portuguese and English. Because of the small number of records identified, it was not necessary to use two categories of search words, and only terms related to home cooking were used.

The articles were selected based on the following inclusion criteria: article published in a peer-reviewed journal; full-text for access; study with a qualitative approach; results related to the act of cooking in the domestic environment.

In total, 476 articles were identified through database searching and imported into a reference manager. Of these, 50 were selected based on titles and abstracts. After reading the articles in full, 24 were excluded: 10 for adopting a quantitative approach although they used terms that referred to qualitative research such as perception or meanings, 10 for focusing on foods and nutrients rather than on home cooking, 3 for being theoretical studies, and 1 for focusing solely on hygiene and sanitation during home meal preparation. The remaining 26 articles reported qualitative data on home cooking and were therefore selected for review. The article selection process is illustrated in Figure 1. Collected data were transferred to a Microsoft Word 2016® document. An inductive thematic analysis was carried out according to the six steps proposed by Braun and Clark2121 Braun V, Clarke V. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Res Psychol 2006; 3(2):77-101.: familiarization with data, systematic coding of data, grouping of codes into themes, review and grouping of themes, definition of themes, production of results. The thematic analysis was conducted by one author and reviewed by another.

Figure 1
Flow diagram of the study selection process.

Results

The 26 articles included in this review were published between 2004 and 2017. Studies were conducted in 12 different countries, most of which (n = 17) have English as one of the official languages. Of the 26 articles, 14 had the main objective related directly to the act of cooking. On the other hand, this was not the main objective of the other articles. However, they presented in the results, albeit briefly, the participants’ perceptions about the act of cooking (Chart 2).

Chart 2
Description of studies included in the qualitative systematic review of home cooking, ordered by year of publication.

Home cooking was the main topic of research in 14 studies and a secondary finding in 12 studies.

We identified three major themes in cooking perception research: Meanings and interpretations of the act of cooking; Motivations for cooking; Facilitators and barriers to cooking.

Meanings and interpretations of the act of cooking

Four studies analyzed the different interpretations of cooking1818 Halkier B. Suitable cooking?: Performances and positionings in cooking practices among danish women. Food Cult Soc 2009; 12(3):357-377.,2222 Gatley A. The significance of culinary cultures to diet. Br Food J 2016; 118(1):40-59.

23 Lavelle F, McGowan L, Spence M, Caraher M, Raats MM, Hollywood L, McDowell D, McCloat A, Mooney E, Dean M. Barriers and facilitators to cooking from 'scratch' using basic or raw ingredients: A qualitative interview study. Appetite 2016; 107:383-391.
-2424 Wolfson JA, Bleich SN, Smith KC, Frattaroli S. What does cooking mean to you?: Perceptions of cooking and factors related to cooking behavior. Appetite 2016; 97:146-154.. Two assessed participants’ understanding of the terms “home cooking”2424 Wolfson JA, Bleich SN, Smith KC, Frattaroli S. What does cooking mean to you?: Perceptions of cooking and factors related to cooking behavior. Appetite 2016; 97:146-154. and “cooking from scratch”2323 Lavelle F, McGowan L, Spence M, Caraher M, Raats MM, Hollywood L, McDowell D, McCloat A, Mooney E, Dean M. Barriers and facilitators to cooking from 'scratch' using basic or raw ingredients: A qualitative interview study. Appetite 2016; 107:383-391.,2525 Pollan M. Cozinhar: Uma história natural da transformação. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Intrinseca; 2014.. And the other two highlighted differences in planning, organizing, and carrying out cooking tasks1818 Halkier B. Suitable cooking?: Performances and positionings in cooking practices among danish women. Food Cult Soc 2009; 12(3):357-377.,2222 Gatley A. The significance of culinary cultures to diet. Br Food J 2016; 118(1):40-59..

In United States, Wolfson et al. 2424 Wolfson JA, Bleich SN, Smith KC, Frattaroli S. What does cooking mean to you?: Perceptions of cooking and factors related to cooking behavior. Appetite 2016; 97:146-154. explored how individuals define home cooking. Definitions varied from “everything from scratch” to “anything prepared at home” (including ready-to-eat foods, frozen meals, etc.) .

Lavelle et al. 2323 Lavelle F, McGowan L, Spence M, Caraher M, Raats MM, Hollywood L, McDowell D, McCloat A, Mooney E, Dean M. Barriers and facilitators to cooking from 'scratch' using basic or raw ingredients: A qualitative interview study. Appetite 2016; 107:383-391., in a study carried out in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, identified the different meanings of cooking from scratch. Participants’ views ranged from a more traditional definition (using raw ingredients) to a more inclusive meaning (using pre-prepared, frozen foods like frozen fish fillets)2323 Lavelle F, McGowan L, Spence M, Caraher M, Raats MM, Hollywood L, McDowell D, McCloat A, Mooney E, Dean M. Barriers and facilitators to cooking from 'scratch' using basic or raw ingredients: A qualitative interview study. Appetite 2016; 107:383-391.. Thus, in both studies there is a variety in the understanding and definition of terms related to cooking, ranging from more restrictive versions to more comprehensive versions2323 Lavelle F, McGowan L, Spence M, Caraher M, Raats MM, Hollywood L, McDowell D, McCloat A, Mooney E, Dean M. Barriers and facilitators to cooking from 'scratch' using basic or raw ingredients: A qualitative interview study. Appetite 2016; 107:383-391.,2424 Wolfson JA, Bleich SN, Smith KC, Frattaroli S. What does cooking mean to you?: Perceptions of cooking and factors related to cooking behavior. Appetite 2016; 97:146-154..

The great variety of perceptions about cooking identified in both studies mentioned above is corroborated by the results of Gatley2222 Gatley A. The significance of culinary cultures to diet. Br Food J 2016; 118(1):40-59.. According to the author, a person’s understanding of cooking depends largely on the context in which she or he is inserted. The author assessed the cooking behavior and experiences of women and men in France and Great Britain. Respondents were asked to report what types of foods they prepared at home. Almost half of the British respondents reported to use convenience or ready-to-eat foods, whereas French participants reported using pre-prepared items for quick meal preparation; none, however, reported to use convenience foods, with the exception of pizza for children2222 Gatley A. The significance of culinary cultures to diet. Br Food J 2016; 118(1):40-59..

Halkier1818 Halkier B. Suitable cooking?: Performances and positionings in cooking practices among danish women. Food Cult Soc 2009; 12(3):357-377. showed that individuals have different ways of planning and preparing meals. The author assessed the cooking practices of six women, aged 25 to 50 years, living in six different regions of Denmark, and with different family structures and levels of education. Different cooking styles were observed. Cooking required extensive planning for some women but came naturally to others. Ingredients were purchased based on predefined recipes or without planning, for improvisation. Knowledge of cooking was gained as a child/adolescent or later in life out of necessity. For some women, written recipes were considered essential for meal preparation, and, for others, recipes were sources of inspiration that could be adapted according to personal preferences or availability of ingredients1818 Halkier B. Suitable cooking?: Performances and positionings in cooking practices among danish women. Food Cult Soc 2009; 12(3):357-377..

Motivations for cooking

Figure 2 shows the main motivators to home cooking identified in this review.

Figure 2
Motivators to home cooking identified through thematic analysis of selected studies.

According to reports from the United States2424 Wolfson JA, Bleich SN, Smith KC, Frattaroli S. What does cooking mean to you?: Perceptions of cooking and factors related to cooking behavior. Appetite 2016; 97:146-154.,2626 Jones SA, Walter J, Soliah L, Phifer JT. Perceived motivators to home food preparation: Focus group findings. J Acad Nutri Diet 2014; 114(10):1552-1556.,2727 Bostic SM, McClain AC. Older adults' cooking trajectories: Shifting skills and strategies. Br Food J 2017; 119(5):1102-1115., United Kingdom2222 Gatley A. The significance of culinary cultures to diet. Br Food J 2016; 118(1):40-59.,2828 Mills S, White M, Wrieden W, Brown H, Stead M, Adams J. Home food preparation practices, experiences and perceptions: A qualitative interview study with photo-elicitation. PLoS One 2017; 12(8):e0182842., and North Ireland and Republic of Ireland2323 Lavelle F, McGowan L, Spence M, Caraher M, Raats MM, Hollywood L, McDowell D, McCloat A, Mooney E, Dean M. Barriers and facilitators to cooking from 'scratch' using basic or raw ingredients: A qualitative interview study. Appetite 2016; 107:383-391., cooking allows people to have control over their and their families’ eating habits. For instance, Canadian parents that cook at home can control the type of foods that their children eat, fulfilling their role as “gatekeepers” of family nutrition2929 Simmons D, Chapman GE. The significance of home cooking within families. Br Food J 2012; 114(8):1184-1195..

For Brazilian3030 Diez-Garcia RW, Castro IRR. A culinária como objeto de estudo e de intervenção no campo da alimentação e nutrição. Cien Saúde Colet 2011; 16(1):91-98., Canadian2929 Simmons D, Chapman GE. The significance of home cooking within families. Br Food J 2012; 114(8):1184-1195.,3131 Engler-Stringer R. The domestic foodscapes of young low-income women in montreal: Cooking practices in the context of an increasingly processed food supply. Health Educ Behav 2010; 37(2):211-226., American2424 Wolfson JA, Bleich SN, Smith KC, Frattaroli S. What does cooking mean to you?: Perceptions of cooking and factors related to cooking behavior. Appetite 2016; 97:146-154.,2626 Jones SA, Walter J, Soliah L, Phifer JT. Perceived motivators to home food preparation: Focus group findings. J Acad Nutri Diet 2014; 114(10):1552-1556.,2727 Bostic SM, McClain AC. Older adults' cooking trajectories: Shifting skills and strategies. Br Food J 2017; 119(5):1102-1115.,3232 Moisio R, Arnould EJ, Price LL. Between mothers and markets: Constructing family identity through homemade food. J Consum Cult 2004; 4(3):361-384., and British3333 Parsons JM. When convenience is inconvenient: 'Healthy' family foodways and the persistent intersectionalities of gender and class. J Gender Stud 2016; 25(4):382-397. individuals, home cooking can be used as a strategy to reduce food costs even with scarce food and financial resources, allowing greater control of the domestic budget.

Canadian individuals reported that cooking is a skill that can increase self-sufficiency2929 Simmons D, Chapman GE. The significance of home cooking within families. Br Food J 2012; 114(8):1184-1195. and everyone should possess3434 Szabo M. Men nurturing through food: Challenging gender dichotomies around domestic cooking. J Gender Stud 2014; 23(1):18-31.. Knowing how to cook is perceived as a sign of independence and responsibility for personal food habits2929 Simmons D, Chapman GE. The significance of home cooking within families. Br Food J 2012; 114(8):1184-1195..

Men and women from Canada, United States, United Kingdom, France and China2626 Jones SA, Walter J, Soliah L, Phifer JT. Perceived motivators to home food preparation: Focus group findings. J Acad Nutri Diet 2014; 114(10):1552-1556.,2828 Mills S, White M, Wrieden W, Brown H, Stead M, Adams J. Home food preparation practices, experiences and perceptions: A qualitative interview study with photo-elicitation. PLoS One 2017; 12(8):e0182842.,2929 Simmons D, Chapman GE. The significance of home cooking within families. Br Food J 2012; 114(8):1184-1195.,3232 Moisio R, Arnould EJ, Price LL. Between mothers and markets: Constructing family identity through homemade food. J Consum Cult 2004; 4(3):361-384.,3333 Parsons JM. When convenience is inconvenient: 'Healthy' family foodways and the persistent intersectionalities of gender and class. J Gender Stud 2016; 25(4):382-397.,3535 Gatley A, Caraher M, Lang T. A qualitative, cross cultural examination of attitudes and behaviour in relation to cooking habits in france and britain. Appetite 2014; 75:71-81.

36 Szabo M. "I'm a real catch": The blurring of alternative and hegemonic masculinities in men's talk about home cooking. Women's Stud Int Forum 2014; 44(1):228-235.
-3737 Liu C. Food practices, gendered intimacy and family life in contemporary guangzhou. Gender Place Cult 2017; 24(1):97-107. believe that cooking allows individuals to connect with others, strengthen relationships, and express love and care.

British people often feel pleasure2828 Mills S, White M, Wrieden W, Brown H, Stead M, Adams J. Home food preparation practices, experiences and perceptions: A qualitative interview study with photo-elicitation. PLoS One 2017; 12(8):e0182842. in cooking and enjoy the social aspect of the activity2828 Mills S, White M, Wrieden W, Brown H, Stead M, Adams J. Home food preparation practices, experiences and perceptions: A qualitative interview study with photo-elicitation. PLoS One 2017; 12(8):e0182842.,3535 Gatley A, Caraher M, Lang T. A qualitative, cross cultural examination of attitudes and behaviour in relation to cooking habits in france and britain. Appetite 2014; 75:71-81.. It is considered a recreational activity that involves friends and family, especially on weekends3535 Gatley A, Caraher M, Lang T. A qualitative, cross cultural examination of attitudes and behaviour in relation to cooking habits in france and britain. Appetite 2014; 75:71-81.. Americans reported that home cooking is motivated by the pleasure of devoting oneself to the activity2626 Jones SA, Walter J, Soliah L, Phifer JT. Perceived motivators to home food preparation: Focus group findings. J Acad Nutri Diet 2014; 114(10):1552-1556.,2727 Bostic SM, McClain AC. Older adults' cooking trajectories: Shifting skills and strategies. Br Food J 2017; 119(5):1102-1115.,3232 Moisio R, Arnould EJ, Price LL. Between mothers and markets: Constructing family identity through homemade food. J Consum Cult 2004; 4(3):361-384.. For men in Sweden and Canada, cooking is a leisure activity that allows for experimentation and expression of creativity3333 Parsons JM. When convenience is inconvenient: 'Healthy' family foodways and the persistent intersectionalities of gender and class. J Gender Stud 2016; 25(4):382-397.,3434 Szabo M. Men nurturing through food: Challenging gender dichotomies around domestic cooking. J Gender Stud 2014; 23(1):18-31.,3636 Szabo M. "I'm a real catch": The blurring of alternative and hegemonic masculinities in men's talk about home cooking. Women's Stud Int Forum 2014; 44(1):228-235.,3838 Neuman N, Gottzén L, Fjellström C. Narratives of progress: Cooking and gender equality among swedish men. J Gender Stud 2015; 26(2):1-13..

American2424 Wolfson JA, Bleich SN, Smith KC, Frattaroli S. What does cooking mean to you?: Perceptions of cooking and factors related to cooking behavior. Appetite 2016; 97:146-154., British and French3535 Gatley A, Caraher M, Lang T. A qualitative, cross cultural examination of attitudes and behaviour in relation to cooking habits in france and britain. Appetite 2014; 75:71-81. individuals defined the act of cooking as a priority activity2424 Wolfson JA, Bleich SN, Smith KC, Frattaroli S. What does cooking mean to you?: Perceptions of cooking and factors related to cooking behavior. Appetite 2016; 97:146-154. and incorporated into the daily routine3535 Gatley A, Caraher M, Lang T. A qualitative, cross cultural examination of attitudes and behaviour in relation to cooking habits in france and britain. Appetite 2014; 75:71-81.. Swedish men reported that cooking was essential to meet daily needs3838 Neuman N, Gottzén L, Fjellström C. Narratives of progress: Cooking and gender equality among swedish men. J Gender Stud 2015; 26(2):1-13.. British individuals, especially mothers, identified responsibility for providing their children with food as an important motivation for cooking2828 Mills S, White M, Wrieden W, Brown H, Stead M, Adams J. Home food preparation practices, experiences and perceptions: A qualitative interview study with photo-elicitation. PLoS One 2017; 12(8):e0182842..

Cooking is seen as a means of maintaining family and cultural traditions as well as creating new ones1717 Meah A, Watson M. Saints and slackers: Challenging discourses about the decline of domestic cooking. Sociol Res Online 2011; 16(2):108-120.,2727 Bostic SM, McClain AC. Older adults' cooking trajectories: Shifting skills and strategies. Br Food J 2017; 119(5):1102-1115.,2929 Simmons D, Chapman GE. The significance of home cooking within families. Br Food J 2012; 114(8):1184-1195.,3939 Johnson CM, Sharkey JR, McIntosh AW, Dean WR. "I'm the momma": Using photo-elicitation to understand matrilineal influence on family food choice. BMC Womens Health 2010; 10:21.

40 Meah A, Jackson P. Crowded kitchens: The 'democratisation' of domesticity? Gender Place Cult 2013; 20(5):578-596.

41 Bowen RL, Devine CM. "Watching a person who knows how to cook, you'll learn a lot" linked lives, cultural transmission, and the food choices of puerto rican girls. Appetite 2011; 56(2):290-298.
-4242 Bailey A. The migrant suitcase: Food, belonging and commensality among indian migrants in the netherlands. Appetite 2017; 110:51-60.. In Unite States, some women maintained the cooking habits of their mothers, whereas others resented their heritage and sought new cooking experiences3939 Johnson CM, Sharkey JR, McIntosh AW, Dean WR. "I'm the momma": Using photo-elicitation to understand matrilineal influence on family food choice. BMC Womens Health 2010; 10:21.. American seniors reported that they took pride in preparing dishes that had been passed down through generations2727 Bostic SM, McClain AC. Older adults' cooking trajectories: Shifting skills and strategies. Br Food J 2017; 119(5):1102-1115.. Danish young adults changed their eating habits and tried to influence those of their parents after developing cooking skills4343 Gram M, Hogg M, Blichfeldt BS, MacLaran P. Intergenerational relationships and food consumption: The stories of young adults leaving home. Young Consum 2015; 16(1):71-84.. In an observational study carried out in Malaysia found that cooking with family members, especially the mother, strengthens family bonds and allows gaining knowledge about cooking4444 Sharif MSM, Zahari MSM, Nor NM, Muhammad R. How could the transfer of food knowledge be passed down? Procedia Soc Behav Sci 2013; 105:429-437.. In the Netherlands, Indian immigrants reported that cooking is a central part of the sense of belonging and helps to deal with being away from home. The use of traditional family ingredients and utensils increased their ties to the family4242 Bailey A. The migrant suitcase: Food, belonging and commensality among indian migrants in the netherlands. Appetite 2017; 110:51-60..

Cooking facilitators and barriers

The facilitators and barriers to cooking reported in the selected studies are summarized in Figure 3. American2626 Jones SA, Walter J, Soliah L, Phifer JT. Perceived motivators to home food preparation: Focus group findings. J Acad Nutri Diet 2014; 114(10):1552-1556.,2727 Bostic SM, McClain AC. Older adults' cooking trajectories: Shifting skills and strategies. Br Food J 2017; 119(5):1102-1115., Canadian2929 Simmons D, Chapman GE. The significance of home cooking within families. Br Food J 2012; 114(8):1184-1195., Danish1818 Halkier B. Suitable cooking?: Performances and positionings in cooking practices among danish women. Food Cult Soc 2009; 12(3):357-377.,4343 Gram M, Hogg M, Blichfeldt BS, MacLaran P. Intergenerational relationships and food consumption: The stories of young adults leaving home. Young Consum 2015; 16(1):71-84., and Irish2323 Lavelle F, McGowan L, Spence M, Caraher M, Raats MM, Hollywood L, McDowell D, McCloat A, Mooney E, Dean M. Barriers and facilitators to cooking from 'scratch' using basic or raw ingredients: A qualitative interview study. Appetite 2016; 107:383-391. individuals highlighted the importance of having a family member as a cooking role model. Halkier1818 Halkier B. Suitable cooking?: Performances and positionings in cooking practices among danish women. Food Cult Soc 2009; 12(3):357-377. observed that some Danish women who had learned to cook in their childhood considered cooking to be a natural and simple task1818 Halkier B. Suitable cooking?: Performances and positionings in cooking practices among danish women. Food Cult Soc 2009; 12(3):357-377.. In another study in Denmark, participants considered their parents as positive role models regarding meal planning and the use of vegetables and spices4343 Gram M, Hogg M, Blichfeldt BS, MacLaran P. Intergenerational relationships and food consumption: The stories of young adults leaving home. Young Consum 2015; 16(1):71-84.. On the other hand, young adults in the United States attributed their lack of confidence in cooking to the small number of meals prepared at home by their parents during their childhood2626 Jones SA, Walter J, Soliah L, Phifer JT. Perceived motivators to home food preparation: Focus group findings. J Acad Nutri Diet 2014; 114(10):1552-1556..

Figure 3
Facilitators and barriers to home cooking identified through thematic analysis of selected studies.

Knowing how to cook and having confidence in this ability was reported as an important factor for home cooking in the United Kingdom3535 Gatley A, Caraher M, Lang T. A qualitative, cross cultural examination of attitudes and behaviour in relation to cooking habits in france and britain. Appetite 2014; 75:71-81., Ireland2323 Lavelle F, McGowan L, Spence M, Caraher M, Raats MM, Hollywood L, McDowell D, McCloat A, Mooney E, Dean M. Barriers and facilitators to cooking from 'scratch' using basic or raw ingredients: A qualitative interview study. Appetite 2016; 107:383-391., United States2626 Jones SA, Walter J, Soliah L, Phifer JT. Perceived motivators to home food preparation: Focus group findings. J Acad Nutri Diet 2014; 114(10):1552-1556., and Uruguay4545 Machin L, Aschemann-Witzel J, Patino A, Moratorio X, Bandeira E, Curutchet MR, Martínez J, Bove I, Molina V, Giménez A, Ares G. Barriers and facilitators to implementing the uruguayan dietary guidelines in everyday life: A citizen perspective. Health Educ Behav 2018: 45(5):511-523. and, when lacking, as a barrier to cooking2626 Jones SA, Walter J, Soliah L, Phifer JT. Perceived motivators to home food preparation: Focus group findings. J Acad Nutri Diet 2014; 114(10):1552-1556.,4545 Machin L, Aschemann-Witzel J, Patino A, Moratorio X, Bandeira E, Curutchet MR, Martínez J, Bove I, Molina V, Giménez A, Ares G. Barriers and facilitators to implementing the uruguayan dietary guidelines in everyday life: A citizen perspective. Health Educ Behav 2018: 45(5):511-523.. Additionally, individuals pointed out that the ability to organize and plan meals, which includes planning what will be prepared, organizing time, buying food, preparing food and cleaning the environment also facilitate and favor the effective act of home cooking2323 Lavelle F, McGowan L, Spence M, Caraher M, Raats MM, Hollywood L, McDowell D, McCloat A, Mooney E, Dean M. Barriers and facilitators to cooking from 'scratch' using basic or raw ingredients: A qualitative interview study. Appetite 2016; 107:383-391.,2424 Wolfson JA, Bleich SN, Smith KC, Frattaroli S. What does cooking mean to you?: Perceptions of cooking and factors related to cooking behavior. Appetite 2016; 97:146-154.,2626 Jones SA, Walter J, Soliah L, Phifer JT. Perceived motivators to home food preparation: Focus group findings. J Acad Nutri Diet 2014; 114(10):1552-1556.. As a strategy to optimize time, American individuals cook meals in large quantities, use leftovers, and prepare or process ingredients in advance2424 Wolfson JA, Bleich SN, Smith KC, Frattaroli S. What does cooking mean to you?: Perceptions of cooking and factors related to cooking behavior. Appetite 2016; 97:146-154.. In Denmark, individuals chose to outsource the responsibility of planning and purchasing ingredients by acquiring “meal boxes”. Boxes containing the necessary ingredients for a certain dish are delivered at home. Thus, users still cook at home, but with reduced efforts4646 Hertz FD, Halkier B. Meal box schemes a convenient way to avoid convenience food? Uses and understandings of meal box schemes among danish consumers. Appetite 2017; 114:232-239..

Irish individuals reported the importance of creative inspiration, which may stem from recipes, experiences at restaurants, and grocery shopping2323 Lavelle F, McGowan L, Spence M, Caraher M, Raats MM, Hollywood L, McDowell D, McCloat A, Mooney E, Dean M. Barriers and facilitators to cooking from 'scratch' using basic or raw ingredients: A qualitative interview study. Appetite 2016; 107:383-391.. Among British adults of different income groups, the availability of pre-prepared foods (e.g. , frozen fish and vegetables, canned beans, and bagged greens), utensils, and equipment facilitate home cooking2828 Mills S, White M, Wrieden W, Brown H, Stead M, Adams J. Home food preparation practices, experiences and perceptions: A qualitative interview study with photo-elicitation. PLoS One 2017; 12(8):e0182842.,3535 Gatley A, Caraher M, Lang T. A qualitative, cross cultural examination of attitudes and behaviour in relation to cooking habits in france and britain. Appetite 2014; 75:71-81.,4040 Meah A, Jackson P. Crowded kitchens: The 'democratisation' of domesticity? Gender Place Cult 2013; 20(5):578-596.. Because of the lack of time to cook, participants are becoming increasingly dependent on the use of pre-prepared foods to cook at home2828 Mills S, White M, Wrieden W, Brown H, Stead M, Adams J. Home food preparation practices, experiences and perceptions: A qualitative interview study with photo-elicitation. PLoS One 2017; 12(8):e0182842.,3535 Gatley A, Caraher M, Lang T. A qualitative, cross cultural examination of attitudes and behaviour in relation to cooking habits in france and britain. Appetite 2014; 75:71-81..

Lack of time is one of the major barriers to cooking. Family and work commitments and leisure opportunities significantly influence the decision to (not) cook. The accelerated pace of life and other personal demands often do not allow individuals to partake in this activity2323 Lavelle F, McGowan L, Spence M, Caraher M, Raats MM, Hollywood L, McDowell D, McCloat A, Mooney E, Dean M. Barriers and facilitators to cooking from 'scratch' using basic or raw ingredients: A qualitative interview study. Appetite 2016; 107:383-391.,2424 Wolfson JA, Bleich SN, Smith KC, Frattaroli S. What does cooking mean to you?: Perceptions of cooking and factors related to cooking behavior. Appetite 2016; 97:146-154.,2626 Jones SA, Walter J, Soliah L, Phifer JT. Perceived motivators to home food preparation: Focus group findings. J Acad Nutri Diet 2014; 114(10):1552-1556.,2828 Mills S, White M, Wrieden W, Brown H, Stead M, Adams J. Home food preparation practices, experiences and perceptions: A qualitative interview study with photo-elicitation. PLoS One 2017; 12(8):e0182842.,3535 Gatley A, Caraher M, Lang T. A qualitative, cross cultural examination of attitudes and behaviour in relation to cooking habits in france and britain. Appetite 2014; 75:71-81..

In studies carried out in Ireland2323 Lavelle F, McGowan L, Spence M, Caraher M, Raats MM, Hollywood L, McDowell D, McCloat A, Mooney E, Dean M. Barriers and facilitators to cooking from 'scratch' using basic or raw ingredients: A qualitative interview study. Appetite 2016; 107:383-391. and Unites States2626 Jones SA, Walter J, Soliah L, Phifer JT. Perceived motivators to home food preparation: Focus group findings. J Acad Nutri Diet 2014; 114(10):1552-1556., the availability and proximity of places to buy convenience foods or eat out were associated with the choice of not cooking at home. American young adults often choose to purchase foods or meals at university canteens and restaurants rather than eating at home because of the practicality and low cost2626 Jones SA, Walter J, Soliah L, Phifer JT. Perceived motivators to home food preparation: Focus group findings. J Acad Nutri Diet 2014; 114(10):1552-1556.. In other studies, for some individuals cooking is not seen as a priority or necessity2323 Lavelle F, McGowan L, Spence M, Caraher M, Raats MM, Hollywood L, McDowell D, McCloat A, Mooney E, Dean M. Barriers and facilitators to cooking from 'scratch' using basic or raw ingredients: A qualitative interview study. Appetite 2016; 107:383-391.,2424 Wolfson JA, Bleich SN, Smith KC, Frattaroli S. What does cooking mean to you?: Perceptions of cooking and factors related to cooking behavior. Appetite 2016; 97:146-154.,2727 Bostic SM, McClain AC. Older adults' cooking trajectories: Shifting skills and strategies. Br Food J 2017; 119(5):1102-1115.,3535 Gatley A, Caraher M, Lang T. A qualitative, cross cultural examination of attitudes and behaviour in relation to cooking habits in france and britain. Appetite 2014; 75:71-81.,4545 Machin L, Aschemann-Witzel J, Patino A, Moratorio X, Bandeira E, Curutchet MR, Martínez J, Bove I, Molina V, Giménez A, Ares G. Barriers and facilitators to implementing the uruguayan dietary guidelines in everyday life: A citizen perspective. Health Educ Behav 2018: 45(5):511-523.. In Uruguay, individuals reported that they did not like to cook and, therefore, invested little time on cooking from scratch. Some reported that, although they enjoyed cooking, they felt overwhelmed by having to cook every day4545 Machin L, Aschemann-Witzel J, Patino A, Moratorio X, Bandeira E, Curutchet MR, Martínez J, Bove I, Molina V, Giménez A, Ares G. Barriers and facilitators to implementing the uruguayan dietary guidelines in everyday life: A citizen perspective. Health Educ Behav 2018: 45(5):511-523..

The high costs of raw foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and meat, is a barrier to preparing meals at home. Irish and American individuals prefer buying cheaper, processed foods as opposed to raw foods2323 Lavelle F, McGowan L, Spence M, Caraher M, Raats MM, Hollywood L, McDowell D, McCloat A, Mooney E, Dean M. Barriers and facilitators to cooking from 'scratch' using basic or raw ingredients: A qualitative interview study. Appetite 2016; 107:383-391.,2424 Wolfson JA, Bleich SN, Smith KC, Frattaroli S. What does cooking mean to you?: Perceptions of cooking and factors related to cooking behavior. Appetite 2016; 97:146-154..

Living arrangements influence the choice of cooking at home. Elderly British women4747 Lane K, Poland F, Fleming S, Lambert N, MacDonald H, Potter J, Raats M, Skidmore P, Vince C, Wellings A, Hooper L. Older women's reduced contact with food in the changes around food experience (cafe) study: Choices, adaptations and dynamism. Ageing Soc 2014; 34(4):645-669. and British2828 Mills S, White M, Wrieden W, Brown H, Stead M, Adams J. Home food preparation practices, experiences and perceptions: A qualitative interview study with photo-elicitation. PLoS One 2017; 12(8):e0182842. and American2424 Wolfson JA, Bleich SN, Smith KC, Frattaroli S. What does cooking mean to you?: Perceptions of cooking and factors related to cooking behavior. Appetite 2016; 97:146-154. adults reported that living alone discouraged home cooking. On the other hand, living alone was considered a stimulus to develop the habit of cooking by young British individuals2828 Mills S, White M, Wrieden W, Brown H, Stead M, Adams J. Home food preparation practices, experiences and perceptions: A qualitative interview study with photo-elicitation. PLoS One 2017; 12(8):e0182842.,3535 Gatley A, Caraher M, Lang T. A qualitative, cross cultural examination of attitudes and behaviour in relation to cooking habits in france and britain. Appetite 2014; 75:71-81..

Discussion and final considerations

This qualitative review presents the point of view of individuals from different backgrounds about aspects related to cooking at home. We observed a multiplicity of perceptions about home cooking and meal planning. For some individuals, home cooking includes the use of raw and/or minimally processed ingredients, whereas, for others, cooking can be carried out using highly- or ultra-processed foods4848 Monteiro CA, Cannon G, Levy R, Moubarac J-C, Jaime P, Martins AP, Canella D, Louzada M, Parra D. NOVA. The star shines bright. Food classification. Public health. World Nutrition 2016; 7(1-3):28-38.. These results indicate that individuals have different understandings about what it means to cook. The distinction between high-complexity and low-complexity cooking tasks and cooking from raw and pre-prepared foods is not always clear1515 Short F. Domestisc cooking skills what are they? HEIA 2003; 10(3):13-22.,4949 McGowan L, Caraher M, Raats M, Lavelle F, Hollywood L, McDowell D, Spence M, McCloat A, Mooney E, Dean M. Domestic cooking and food skills: A review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2017; 57(11):2412-2431..

Cognitive, practical, social, and emotional factors were among the main motivators to cooking. Therefore, strategies aimed at encouraging home cooking should take into account not only economic and cognitive motivations but also the affective components of cooking, for instance, by promoting cooking as a form of leisure and creativity expression.

Six facilitators and six barriers to cooking were identified, some of which were considered ambivalent, such as the presence or absence of a cooking role model in the family, confidence, and cooking skills. The results demonstrate the importance of having contact with people who cook and developing confidence and cooking skills. Further studies should seek to understand how cooking skills are acquired and how other factors, such as creative inspiration for cooking and meal planning, influence the choice of cooking at home. Broader concepts of cooking skills that go beyond technical and mechanical skills may need to be adopted4949 McGowan L, Caraher M, Raats M, Lavelle F, Hollywood L, McDowell D, Spence M, McCloat A, Mooney E, Dean M. Domestic cooking and food skills: A review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2017; 57(11):2412-2431.,5050 Jomori MM, Vasconcelos FAG, Bernardo GL, Uggioni PL, Proença RPC. The concept of cooking skills: A review with contributions to the scientific debate. Braz J Nutr 2018; 31:83-96..

Living alone was considered both a barrier and a facilitator to cooking. More information is needed to understand the motivations for (not) cooking of individuals who live alone.

Lack of time and interest were major barriers. The feeling of time pressure leads individuals to dedicate less time to preparing and consuming meals44 Soliah LAL, Walter JM, Jones SA. Benefits and barriers to healthful eating: What are the consequences of decreased food preparation ability? Am J Lifestyle Med 2012; 6(2):152-158.,5151 Jabs J, Devine CM. Time scarcity and food choices: An overview. Appetite 2006; 47(2):196-204. and may affect their interest in cooking. Author identified that individuals who enjoy cooking do not perceive lack of time as a barrier but spend more time cooking4848 Monteiro CA, Cannon G, Levy R, Moubarac J-C, Jaime P, Martins AP, Canella D, Louzada M, Parra D. NOVA. The star shines bright. Food classification. Public health. World Nutrition 2016; 7(1-3):28-38..

The cost of fresh food was identified as an important barrier to cooking in the domestic environment, reiterating the role of income and financial access as important determinants for food choices5252 Hough G, Sosa M. Food choice in low income populations - a review. Food Qual Preference 2015; 40:334-342.,5353 Ver Ploeg M, Wilde PE. How do food retail choices vary within and between food retail environments? Food Policy 2018; 79:300-308..

The different barriers identified confirm the understanding that the determinants related to the habit of cooking in the domestic environment are more complex than the presence of culinary skills5454 Mills S, White M, Brown H, Wrieden W, Kwasnicka D, Halligan J, Robalino S, Adams J. Health and social determinants and outcomes of home cooking: A systematic review of observational studies. Appetite 2017; 111:116-134..

The availability of pre-prepared foods contributes to home cooking. Pre-prepared foods can be classified as either minimally processed foods (e.g. , canned peeled tomatoes) or ultra-processed foods (e.g. , tomato sauce containing corn starch and food additives). The Food Guide for the Brazilian Population1212 Brasil Ministério da Saúde (MS). Guia alimentar para a população brasileira. Brasília: MS; 2014. states that raw and minimally processed foods are part of a healthy diet but ultra-processed foods should be avoided. The degree of processing can only be determined by analyzing the ingredients list. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that consumers be able to understand food labels and have access to clear and reliable information, thereby allowing them to make informed food choices1212 Brasil Ministério da Saúde (MS). Guia alimentar para a população brasileira. Brasília: MS; 2014.,4848 Monteiro CA, Cannon G, Levy R, Moubarac J-C, Jaime P, Martins AP, Canella D, Louzada M, Parra D. NOVA. The star shines bright. Food classification. Public health. World Nutrition 2016; 7(1-3):28-38..

Because the availability of places to eat out and purchase convenience foods affects the choice of cooking at home, meal nutritional quality should be constantly monitored in food establishments. Consumers must have access to qualitative food information to aid in their away-from-home food choices5555 Fernandes AC, Oliveira RC, Proenca RP, Curioni CC, Rodrigues VM, Fiates GM. Influence of menu labeling on food choices in real-life settings: A systematic review. Nutr Rev 2016; 74(8):534-548.

56 Oliveira RC, Fernandes AC, Proença RPC, Hartwell H, Rodrigues VM, Fiates GMR. Preferences for menu labelling formats of young adults in brazil and in the united kingdom. Rev Nutr 2017; 30(3):321-332.
-5757 Fernandes AC, Oliveira RC, Rodrigues VM, Fiates GMR, Proença RPC. Perceptions of university students regarding calories, food healthiness, and the importance of calorie information in menu labelling. Appetite 2015; 91:173-178..

This review included studies carried out at different times and regions of the globe and with diverse populations (for example: men and women; young and elderly adults; eastern and western countries; developed and developing countries; rural and urban area; etc). Thus, the results are influenced by cultural, social, and historical factors. It was not the objective to analyze such differences, which may be regarded as a limitation of this review. However, the compilation allowed to demonstrate different perceptions related to the act of cooking, contributing to deepen the discussion on the theme.

Most studies were conducted in English-speaking countries that share historical, political, and cultural characteristics attributed to the influence of the United Kingdom. More information is needed on other populations, as the act of cooking2424 Wolfson JA, Bleich SN, Smith KC, Frattaroli S. What does cooking mean to you?: Perceptions of cooking and factors related to cooking behavior. Appetite 2016; 97:146-154. is defined as a cultural2222 Gatley A. The significance of culinary cultures to diet. Br Food J 2016; 118(1):40-59.,5454 Mills S, White M, Brown H, Wrieden W, Kwasnicka D, Halligan J, Robalino S, Adams J. Health and social determinants and outcomes of home cooking: A systematic review of observational studies. Appetite 2017; 111:116-134. practice and is influenced by the presence of multinational food industries and fast-food chains5858 Monteiro CA, Moubarac JC, Cannon G, Ng SW, Popkin B. Ultra-processed products are becoming dominant in the global food system. Obesity Reviews 2013; 14(Supl. 2):21-28..

The predominance of articles published in English-speaking countries may be related to the importance of the English language to the dissemination of scientific research. As the terms used to search the databases were in Portuguese or English, it is likely that studies published in French, Italian, or Spanish without an English or Portuguese abstract were not identified.

The use of different terms helped to broaden the literature search. Qualitative research typically adopts a variety of concepts and terms to refer to a given topic. The goal was to include studies with different objectives and gain a global view of cooking perceptions. In many studies, home cooking was not the primary focus. Articles were read in full to identify, even when presented as secondary findings, aspects related to perceptions of cooking. This approach allowed to broaden the understanding of the act of cooking, discussing the motivations, influences and the way individuals relate to this practice.

The analysis of the selected articles led to reflections on possible issues that can be explored in new studies, in order to understand how the habit of cooking develops over the course of life, or even what motivations lead individuals who live alone to cook (or not). It would also be interesting to know the motivations and behavior of individuals who overcome time constraints and develop the habit of cooking.

This review indicates that interventions and strategies aimed at promoting home cooking can address not only cognitive and practical factors but also affective and emotional ones. A broader view of home cooking should be adopted, taking into account the importance of planning meals and cooking skills, the combined use of raw and pre-prepared foods, and the need for creative inspiration for cooking. Strategies that consider the cost of raw foods, lack of time and interest, and meal planning may be effective in stimulating participants to develop healthy cooking habits.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    06 Nov 2020
  • Date of issue
    Nov 2020

History

  • Received
    08 Aug 2018
  • Accepted
    01 Mar 2019
  • Published
    03 Mar 2019
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