Just 5 years ago, home eating was entirely different. It generally consisted of a large weekly shop, with meals cooked from scratch with the occasional takeaway or meal in a restaurant. Houses were designed around food catering with kitchens separated from living rooms and entire rooms dedicated to food storage. Additionally in the past, a large majority of households had dinner as a family with everyone eating the same meal at the same time. 


However, nowadays there is much more variety in the way that families have food. In recent times supermarkets have seen a massive increase in the production and sales of readymade meals. These are a tasty and quick alternative to meal prep and cooking but they do carry many problems, such as their unhealthiness and lack of fresh ingredients.  


Another way that the food market has drastically changed is the amount of people using online shopping services. The UK has seen an increase of 120% in the amount of online grocery shopping since 2017 with currently over 75% of adults doing at least some online shopping. A major factor of this being the COVID-19 pandemic and the danger of leaving our homes. Those in considerable danger from the virus have reaped the rewards of online shopping, being able to buy all of their normal food substances while staying in the safety of their homes. This is where the online supermarket shopping market has seen it’s biggest shift, in the over-55 age group, where regular online shopping has almost trebled. 



There has also been an eruption in online grocery boxes. One of the biggest provider of these is Hello Fresh whose profits exploded in 2020. Hello Fresh is a company that packs fresh ingredients into a box with a recipe so no meal prep is needed. This appeals to customers as it saves time and makes cooking a more relaxing experience. The growing demand for these services is evident as Hello Fresh delivered more than 600 million meals in 2020, and increase of 111 per cent from the year before. 



Perhaps the biggest change of all: in the last 5 years, there has been a massive increase in the number of takeaway meals ordered. Between 2017 and 2019 the number of UK food deliveries increased by 39%. The popularity quickly grew due to the relaxing and easy nature of deliveries. However, during the pandemic this value skyrocketed as people, unable to go out to restaurants looked to delivery for the same restaurant-quality food that they loved. Sites such as Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber eats accelerated the increase as they provided a site where customers could easily browse through different restaurants providing a further comfort and popularity for takeaways. This is evident through Just Eat’s 54% increase in sales in 2020 and the fact that 2.4 million extra meals are sold every week thanks to third-party delivery platforms. At first delivery companies like deliveroo offered the exciting prospect of more job offers due to the increase in food orders from these companies. However, now deliveroo is suffering from the critical issue of over-hiring. This is a problem for already established delivery riders as due to not having a guaranteed-wage, they relied on as many delivering fees as possible.  


The change in technology is hugely decisive in the way that home eating is developing. Apps on mobile phones mean that you can order food or do your grocery shopping with a click of a button. It brings the question : why would people bother going shopping or cooking their own food when it can be done with so much ease at an increasingly cheap price. However, while these changes were happening over time, the pandemic has massively escalated them. The danger of going out was largely unnecessary due to the services at ones fingertips. 

This leaves the question: what will happen to home eating after the pandemic is over? Well a recent survey done by Sainsbury’s says that 82% of current online shoppers are going to continue grocery shopping online after the pandemic is over. Additionally, due to the easiness of delivered grocery boxes and restaurant deliveries, people are unlikely to stop using their services. However, there is not only positives to this new way of life, Zoe Millington-Jones, mother of two children aged 14 and 9  said that she was “happy with the flexibility and ease of the Home eating world, and the extra jobs that will support people in the local area”. However, she also expressed her concern by saying “I am worried that with my children able to order food on their phones, we will no longer have dinner together every night.” The change in home eating doesn’t just bring changes to meal times but it is also affecting the way that houses are being built: an increasing number of houses are being built without large kitchens, providing just an oven and microwave with a small fridge.