Scots spend more time 'consuming food media than cooking for themselves'

As the nation’s obsession with high profile chefs, cookery books and foodie TV shows continues, a study has found that people living in Scotland are spending more than six hours a week consuming ‘food media’ – but just four hours actually cooking.

Published 16th Sep 2016
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

The average adult now spends more time watching, reading, browsing and tagging food on social media than they do creating their own daily meals.

More than half of those surveyed admit they would much rather watch a dish being cooked on TV, or spend time looking at photos online, because they are too busy or think it’s too complicated try to try their hand at making something themselves.

To uncover what is being dubbed as the Great British ‘cooking paradox,’ media psychologist, Emma Kenny analysed over 400 hours of food culture spanning TV, radio, internet and social media conversations and consumer research from food brand Lurpak.

Over 30m viewers now tune in to the nation’s top 10 foodie TV shows every week, with a record 10.4m tuning in to Great British Bake Off and over 14m readers flick through popular foodie magazines for inspiration every month.

The study found the average adult in Scotland spends almost two hours a week watching cooking and food-related TV shows, with The Great British Bake-off, Masterchef and Come Dine with Me the most popular.

For those surveyed living in Scotland, a total of four hours and 13 mins were spent digesting food content on digital platforms every week.

They spent 49 minutes a week engaging with food via Facebook, and another 25 minutes tweeting about it.

In comparison, the average adult in Scotland will spend just 37 minutes a day preparing and cooking food.

But while seven in ten enjoy watching TV cooking shows, only half have been inspired enough to try making something they have seen on screen.

One in ten even say it has been at least a year since they had a go at making a dish they spotted online or on TV. One in five also admitted to making a dish at home but just so they can photograph it and share it on their social media page.

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Foodies browse on Instagram and Pinterest for 45 minutes a week and watch cooking videos on YouTube for 40 minutes a week.

Brits also spend 1 hour 17 minutes reading food websites and blogs, 19 minutes snapchatting about food and 9 minutes scouring recipe books each week.

There is appetite for change however with 56 per cent saying they wished they cooked the recipes they saw online more often.


Media psychologist, Emma Kenny, comments: “Cooking programmes have been a part of our television viewing pleasure since the 1950s. Fast-forward to 2016 and there are over 18 days worth of cookery shows available on our screens each week plus social media offering so much delicious content, it seems that, as a nation, we are fixated with any activity related to food culture.

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“Championed by engaging personalities such as Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver, it’s no surprise there’s such a huge appetite for cookery content.

“And yet these latest findings show us that the amount of time we spend watching food-based shows is not translating back to our kitchen-based behaviour.

It seems four in ten people are put off cooking by TV shows, saying it all looks too complicated to try at home, while 26 per cent claim to be too busy. Others say it’s too expensive or that they just like looking at the food.

Emma Kenny continues: “It would be great if we could transfer our love of onscreen cookery into our real life kitchens.

“We’re being brainwashed into thinking that cooking is too difficult, takes too long and costs too much and it’s turning us to convenience food.

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"We need a revolution – let’s get the nation to reconnect with food, and experience the thrill of cooking! In short, we need to get off the sofa and into the kitchen.”

Lurpak who initiated the study have launched their own campaign ‘Game On, Cooks’ which they say aims to tackle the cooking paradox by demonstrating that consuming food culture is a poor substitute for the visceral experience of cooking.

Louise Goodyear, Senior Brand Manager, Lurpak, comments: “It seems that while the nation loves to watch, read, browse and tag food every week, few are likely to actually have a go themselves.

“Consuming all this food on screen doesn’t compare to the sights, sounds and tastes of a real kitchen – we’re becoming a nation of sofa chefs! That’s why Lurpak is calling on Britain to stop spectating and start cooking because you’re not a cook until you cook. – Game On, Cooks.”

Top Foodies/Chefs on Instagram

1. Jamie Oliver – 4.9m
2. Gordan Ramsey – 1.8m
3. Joe Wicks – 1.4m
4. Ella Woodward – 945k
5. Nigella Lawson – 798k
6. Symmetry Breakfast – 633k
7. Madeleine Shaw – 252k
8. Top With Cinnamon – 213k
9. Clerkenwell Boy – 146k
10. Gizzi Erskine - 124k

Top 10 most popular food-related TV shows:

1. The Great British Bake-Off
2. Masterchef
3. Come Dine with Me
4. Saturday Kitchen
5. The Hairy Bikers Cookbook
6. Sunday Brunch
7. Dinner Date
8. Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast
9. This Morning’s food section
10. Cake Boss

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