/ Food & Drink

The rise of home baking – what’s in your oven?

Cupcakes on a tablecloth

We’re spending more time and money on good food. But it’s not necessarily restaurants dishing it out as research shows the home cooking industry is booming. Are you cooking to save money or for fun?

A recent report by retail experts Conlumino showed that we spent more than £1bn on cooking utensils and baking gadgets  between 2007 and 2011 – a 3.1% rise on the previous period.

We’re stocking our kitchens with pots and pans, food processors and breadmakers to ensure we’ve the tools of the trade. Yet according to the report, the rise in spending is to save money.

Come dine with me

Socially, home cooking and entertaining is seen as a way to have a good time without spending a fortune. Conlumino research showed 30% of respondents said they’d thrown a dinner party in the six months to May 2012 – a 12% increase on the previous year.

Household budgets played a big part in experimenting in home cooking. Partly because of this high-end retailers such as John Lewis are introducing value ranges, while budget ones such as Wilkinson are bringing in premium items, to cater for growing demand for a range of cooking utensils for all wallets.

But there was another suggestion in the report as to why we’re cooking more – others are influencing us.

Most influential were TV programmes such as Masterchef and the Great British Bakeoff, which are said to be inspiring us to be more creative in the kitchen.

The idea of cooking due to austerity and changing habits certainly tallies with me.

Resourceful cooking

Chefs such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have helped me make better use of what I once wasted, with stale bread becoming croutons and bones used for stock, (both of which I recommend as they taste good and save money).

And thanks to TV advice and websites (I tested out a tasty satay after Lisa Galliers shared her peanut butter tip) and gifts of cook books, I’ve tried new ways of cooking.

I am also lucky that I have a butcher background and therefore, have access to quality meat. It only seems right to make the most of it.

Friends’ tips also influence me – since moving in with my girlfriend, both of us have expanded our cooking range and abilities, though it helps that we both come from homes where a lot of tasty home-cooked food was made!

I think then that I know why I am cooking more, but do you? And should more be done to encourage more people to get cooking to save money?

Garnetquagga says:
29 June 2012

I almost never watch cooking shows. And while I want to save money, I cook for an entirely different reason to what was mentioned. Health. With the amount of additives, preservatives, and sugar in nearly all our foods, I am finding myself cooking more and more. And I also find the food tastes better when it’s freshly made with simple, good ingredients. Besides, cooking lets me express my creativity gene.

SaraJayne says:
29 June 2012

My husband and I cook from scratch for a few major reasons: (1) It’s tastier – than either processed convenience food or most restaurants; (2) We can recreate meals we’ve liked, without relying on either a restaurant or a manufacturer to stick around and not change their recipe, and we can recreate them no matter what country we ever live in; (3) It’s enjoyable: it’s a way to spend time together, away from the computers where we spend our working days, doing something that feels real; (4) As Garnetquagga said, it’s healthier – and no worries about whether there’s anything in it that we’re intolerant/allergic to.

The way we cook may or may not be cheaper than ordering take aways or going out every night — I honestly don’t know, because that bit doesn’t matter in the least to us. We wouldn’t do either of those consistently, mostly because our own cooking is tastier. You have to eat so often in order to survive; you might as well enjoy it.

We also enjoy having friends over for dinner – for us, it’s easier and more enjoyable than convincing people to go out to eat, dealing with whatever loud diners might happen to be in the restaurant at the time. It’s cheaper, especially if alcohol is involved. We’re better able to have good conversation, and we’re able to enjoy each other’s company for far longer than we might in a restaurant. We generally try to have friends over for dinner about once a month; it’s an enjoyable night in.

As for whether more should be done to get people cooking more: it’s not for everyone. I personally hate gardening: everything isn’t for everyone, even if it’s something seen as a basic thing “everyone should do.” Only if someone wants to cook will they cook, and there’s no sense in wasting energy telling someone how much better it is to cook than to do whatever they’re doing. They’re doing what’s right for them; let them be.

I agree, my wife is a chef but I cook when she’s off and I always cook from fresh as it taste great and to top it she loves my cooking!

When my sons eventually flew the nest, I became a frustrated cook. I have always loved cooking, especially baking, and found out about WI Markets, I joined this wonderful co-operatrive and was able to continue to bake, and what’s more, sell my own home-made produce. WI Markets had to change their name, as with new legislation, WI Federation was in danger of losing its charitable status, it is now Country Markets. I really loved baking for the weekly market and made so many friends with both other market shareholders and customers. It also provided me with some much needed extra pocket money. I had to retire due to health problems but I am still a big supporter of my own weekly village market, as a customer, buying home-baked goods, fresh veg and fruit in season and garden plants and handicrafts, too. All fantastic value for money. It costs only 5p to become a shareholder. So come on you home-bakers join your nearest market, or why not start your own? (for more information http://www.country-markets.co.uk).

E Stoyles says:
1 July 2012

Your report was interesting and useful. But the report you were quoting from may not necessarily be accurate, as many other `reports` are not essentially so. I bake and cook because I`m my wife`s official carer. But I also believe that, although the task is very time-consuming, I can in this way ensure that I know just what contents go into our eating and that we are getting food that, to the best of my knowledge, is more `natural` than a lot of the stuff provided by people more interested in the `bottom line` than healthy eating.

I think it’s quite ironic that a lot of people sit down with their microwave meals and watch a cooking programme, haha! But yeah, I give myself a night off from cooking every week. I also cook to save moeny and I can cook exactly what the family likes instead of taking out mushrooms for one person or tomatoes for another…etc.