Cooking + Entertaining in 2021: How the Pandemic Changed What it Means to be the Host with the Most

From buffet style dinner parties to blowing out birthday candles, COVID-19 has completely changed the way in which life’s special moments are celebrated. After a year of learning to navigate a new normal, people have grown accustomed to solutions like outdoor dining and virtual gatherings. In an effort to maintain some semblance of social interaction while following recommendations for social distancing and the like, there has been a great change in how people host others in their homes.

From Indoor Parties to Backyard Barbecues

Recommendations to host gatherings outdoors has consumers brushing the dust off their patio furniture and rediscovering their outdoor spaces as a safe place to entertain and enjoy the company of their loved ones. Whether out of boredom or to impress guests, extra time in outdoor spaces led to an increase in outdoor remodels. According to a report by Wayfair Professional, searches for outdoor bars increased by 155 percent last spring. The same report showed that outdoor kitchen and dining searches increased by 130 percent.

New Cooks in the Kitchen

According to a report by marketing agency Acosta, more than 55 percent of shoppers say they are eating at home more often since the beginning of the pandemic. A separate study by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) found that more than four out of five consumers say the pandemic has changed their food habits. IFIC’s director of research and nutrition communications, Ali Webster, believes the increase in healthier eating is a result of the pandemic. To allow people to save time while still eating healthy at home, there has also been a rise in meal kit delivery services. Research by Grand View Research shows the meal kit delivery market is expected to become a $20 billion industry by 2027. Whether cooking alone, for family, or for guests, consumers now have more meal kits to choose from than ever before.

The Future of Cooking + Entertaining

Will consumers continue to embrace these new hosting habits post-pandemic? In a survey of 2,200 US consumers, 43 percent of respondents said they plan to continue to cook at home more after the pandemic. Spending more time outdoors is also likely to continue post-pandemic. A study by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation found that nearly six in 10 Americans have a new appreciation for nature due to quarantine. In a time when most things are uncertain, safely gathering outdoors with loved ones and enjoying a healthy meal can be very beneficial to a person’s mental and physical health.