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NA vs WE: 3 Things You Need To Know About Their Cooking Preferences

These three stats show you how young Europeans’ relationship to cooking is different than their North American peers’…


  • Young people in Western Europe cook and prepare meals at home more than young North Americans
  • Gen Z and Millennials in this region are also more likely to cook dinner from scratch than their North American peers, and eat three square meals in a day
  • Millennial parents in North America have no problem feeding their child fast food, whereas parents in Western Europe are much more reluctant

Europeans Gen Z and Millennials like to cook, and according to data from YPulse’s recent WE Cooking and Diets Report, a third of these young consumers (32%) cook or prepare more than seven meals from home in a week, compared to only a quarter in North America (24%). Food is very special for Gen Z and Millennials in both NA and WE, and although Gen Z sees themselves as less of a foodie than Millennials—a topic YPulse dug into in The End of Foodie Culture (As We Know It)—it’s a hobby both gens are super interested in, with YPulse’s Self-Taught Trend Report also showing that cooking is a top skill Gen Z and Millennials want to learn. But these three stats from YPulse’s WE Cooking and Diets survey will give you insights into the way young North Americans and Western Europeans have different habits when it comes to cooking:

European Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to be cooking dinner from scratch than North Americans

When it comes to cooking dinner, half of young Europeans say they usually cook their evening meal from scratch, whereas just over two in five young North Americans do so (43%). A recent study by YouGov shows that cooking from scratch is a habit young people picked up during the pandemic, and have continued doing since then. Now, European Gen Z and Millennials are still enjoying putting ingredients together at home to prepare a meal, more so than their North American peers. Data from YPulse’s WE Cooking and Diets Report shows that young Europeans self-report cooking or preparing over six meals a week at home on average, more than in North America where young consumers say they cook less than six meals at home on average per week.

YPulse’s The End of Foodie Culture (As We Know It) trend report also found that young Europeans are more passionate about food than their North American peers. When asked “what is food for you?,” among a given list of adjectives such as “just sustenance,” or a hobby;” 44% of young Europeans answered “a passion,” +12points more than young North Americans (32%). The fact that young Europeans are passionate about food makes them more likely to enjoy the process of cooking with ingredients they have at hand in their homes, more so than their North American peers. YPulse’s research also shows that young Europeans are less likely to think of cooking as a chore, with 46% agreeing with the statement “cooking is a chore,” compared to 53% of young consumers in North America. Here again, young Europeans are less likely to see food as a must-do, versus something they enjoy doing, which is why they’re more likely to enjoy cooking from scratch compared to their North American peers.

Young Europeans are a lot more likely to eat three complete meals per day than their North American peers

In YPulse’s Cooking and Diets survey, we asked young consumers what type of meals they eat on a typical weekday, including “breakfast,” “lunch,” “dinner,” and variously timed “snacks.” The answers we received differed significantly between the two regions: more than two-thirds of young Western Europeans say they eat three square meals per day (70%), whereas only a slim majority of young consumers reported doing so in North America (52%). Looking more closely at the data shows that the same number of Gen Z and Millennials in Western Europe say they eat three square meals per day, showing that this is truly a cultural trait of young Western Europeans, not a generational one.

Speaking of culture, two in five young North Americans agree with the statement “I don’t have a set time for when I eat, I just eat when I am hungry,” but in Western Europe, only a quarter of young Europeans say so (26%). This reveals that young North Americans are more used to eating whenever they fancy, whereas young Europeans are more likely to be following a set pattern of meals. It might also have to do with the fact that restaurants and places to eat food have set hours in Western Europe, underscoring the fact that in European culture, meals are meant to be eaten at a certain time. In Spain, restaurants are closed between 4 pm and 8 pm, and bistros in France don’t serve food in the afternoon. Young Europeans are more likely to have grown up in a culture where meals are eaten at a certain time than in North America.

But fewer young Europeans might report eating three full meals a day in the future, as the cost-of-living crisis is immensely impacting the living standards and spending habits of young Europeans. YPulse informed you how young Europeans are reconsidering their budgets in the face of the current inflation, and data from our WE Finance / Spending Monitor Report shows that the top thing young Europeans’ have changed about their spending to fight inflation is to reduce food consumption and expenses. Meanwhile in the U.K., a new study has revealed that two in five teachers see students coming to school hungry, missing out on breakfast, underscoring that more young people are going hungry because of the economic crisis. Brands are stepping up to support struggling customers. To celebrate 25 years of supporting breakfast clubs across the U.K., Kellogg’s donated 25 million bowls of cereal to food banks last year. And an agency in London even launched an AR interactive cookbook that people can access by scanning a code bar on reduced items to help them make recipes at home using the supermarket’s reduced sections.

North American Gen Alpha is a lot more likely to grow up going to fast food restaurants than their Western European peers

Only two in five Millennial parents say they will feed their kids fast food, but in North America, 70% of Millennials say so, revealing a real divide between the two regions when it comes to fast food. Junk food has been a rising concern among governments across Western Europe for a little while now, and is particularly frowned upon for its impact on children’s health. France spearheaded the implementation of a “sugar tax” in 2012 with a bill requiring companies to pay a tax for high sugar content beverages. Other European countries followed since then, including the U.K. in 2018. The market of “healthy fast food” is also growing, and the exponential growth of brands like Leon shows there’s a market in the region for restaurants serving food fast but without sugar, salt, and fat.