In the top ten of most consumers’ New Year resolution lists are eating healthier and saving money. While these two objectives seem to be commonplace year after year, for the first time in decades, saving money moved to the top resolution displacing being healthier, which had been the most popular across the globe. In 2024, according to a new YouGov poll, 23% of Americans set the goal to save money and 20% resolved to eat healthier. Regarding the success rate of these resolutions, studies indicate that only about 9% to 12% of Americans are successful in keeping their New Year’s resolutions in general, and according to DiscoverHealthyHabits.com, in 2023, only 22% had stuck to their resolutions by February! This (lack of) success rate encompasses all resolutions, not just those related to eating healthier.
That’s a huge opportunity for retail dietitians to come to our shoppers’ rescue, even if they didn’t challenge themselves with their own list of resolutions for the new year.
In our mission to foster healthier communities, retail dietitians and all health and wellness professionals, have reinforced their efforts to empower shoppers to cook more at home and have been offering an ever-expanding catalog of better-for-you, easy and money-saving recipes. The foundation for these recipes must include an understanding of the home-cooked meals shoppers want. Recent trends and studies have provided insightful data into the demographics of home chefs and their influence on household nutrition. This knowledge is key to tailoring your communication and advice effectively.
1. Diverse chefs in modern homes
Gone are the days when meal preparation was solely the domain of one family member. Today’s home kitchens see a blend of genders, ages and roles actively participating. From working parents to teenagers learning to cook, and even retired individuals rediscovering their culinary passions, the spectrum is vast. This diversity brings a variety of cooking styles, dietary preferences and health considerations.
2. Embracing technology and information
The internet age has transformed home cooking. People now have access to the plethora of recipes, nutrition blogs and online cooking classes that retail dietitians in particular have created since the pandemic. However, this accessibility to information is a double-edged sword. While it empowers home chefs with ideas and techniques, it also overwhelms them with contradictory health messages from non-qualified nutrition and health professionals; which is why it is critical to include (and promote) your credentials to the public. Your role in cutting through this clutter with clear, evidence-based advice is more important than ever.
3. The impact of cultural diversity
Cultural backgrounds profoundly influence cooking styles and ingredients. Traditional dishes, often passed down through generations, form the backbone of many family meals. While these recipes are rich in culture, they may not always align with current nutritional guidelines, which again presents retail dietitians with a terrific opportunity. You don’t have to create brand new recipes from scratch, you can modify existing ones with better-for-you ingredients and cooking techniques as well as customizing them to your shoppers’ cultural and taste preferences. Understanding and respecting these culinary heritages while suggesting healthier alternatives is a delicate balance that we must achieve.
4. Time and budget constraints
Time scarcity and budget limitations are significant factors influencing meal choices. Quick, convenient meals often take precedence over healthier options. Understanding these constraints and offering practical, affordable and quick-to-prepare nutritious recipes can encourage healthier eating habits.
5. Nutrition education and inclusivity
Education is key. However, your approach should be inclusive and non-judgmental. Many home chefs are already striving to balance taste, health and family preferences. Empathetic guidance that acknowledges these challenges while providing simple, actionable steps towards healthier choices is crucial. Work to separate your personal dietary preferences to those of your shoppers.
6. Collaborating for healthier choices
We must foster a collaborative relationship with home chefs. Encouraging them to share their challenges and successes in your online forums, social media and magazines can provide invaluable insights as well as reinforcing their relationship with you and your store. This two-way communication can help tailor your advice more effectively and give shoppers pride, recognition and a little bit of fame along the way.
7. Leveraging social media and influencers
Social media is a powerful tool in shaping food choices. Collaborating with other influencers in your community (medical professionals, fitness gurus and even local news celebrities) who promote healthy eating can have a significant impact. These collaborations can range from sharing healthy recipes to debunking nutrition myths.
8. Focus on sustainable and wholesome eating
Sustainability is increasingly becoming a concern for many home chefs. Guidance on choosing local, seasonal and less processed ingredients not only supports healthier eating, but also environmental responsibility.
9. Addressing special dietary needs
With the rise in food allergies, intolerances and special dietary regimes, providing information on ingredient substitutions and alternative cooking methods is essential in all your media outlets and especially on your ecommerce websites. This ensures that your advice is inclusive and applicable to a wider audience.
10. Encouraging culinary exploration
Fostering a sense of curiosity and experimentation in cooking can lead to healthier eating habits. Encouraging home chefs to try new ingredients, cooking techniques and international cuisines can open doors to more nutritious and diverse meal options and reinforces your position as the “go to” resource in your community.
The key to effectively communicating with your home chef shoppers lies in understanding their diverse backgrounds, respecting their culinary traditions, acknowledging their culinary and budget challenges, and providing them with practical, evidence-based advice.
Your role is to empower them to make informed choices, ultimately leading to healthier families and communities and to enjoy the foods that they buy from your store!