Monday, December 19, 2011

The Return of Home Cooking?

The Great Recession has forced more of us to eat at home, sometimes even cooking from scratch. Perhaps nothing reveals this more than trends in average household spending on flour--arguably the most basic of ingredients.

Average household spending on flour plunged between 2000 and 2006 (the year overall household spending peaked) as the easy money of the bubble years turned home cooking into little more than a hobby. Then the Great Recession hit, and home cooking made sense again. Average household spending on flour grew by an impressive 47 percent between 2006 and 2010, after adjusting for inflation. Flour was not the only basic ingredient that made gains. Spending on eggs climbed 15 percent, and spending on fats and oils was up 11 percent during those years.

For most grocery store shoppers, however, convenience still trumps price. Only 4 percent of households buy flour during an average week, while 37 percent buy prepared food from the supermarket deli.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, unpublished data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys

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