During the lockdown period, families were forced to learn to prepare and eat meals in their homes. It was a period when our eating habits changed dramatically. We could no longer save time dining on fast foods or stopping at the local grocery store deli on the way home to pick up dinner. Even though people can dine in their favorite restaurants again, the price has caused families to continue cooking at home.

The fact is that the pandemic has forever altered our eating habits. Cooking at home will not go out of style soon, even as we return to normal routines outside the home. Dining out is a centerpiece of our society, but cooking at home after covid is becoming the norm. The rising costs of literally everything also affects takeout and home delivery which can add 35-50% to a bill. If you don’t want to cook, get in your car and pick it up.

Cooking after Covid considers many factors. During the pandemic, many families learned to enjoy cooking and use their labor and savings to buy better ingredients and kitchen utensils. They watched cooking shows to learn techniques and recipes. Are they rushing to get back to their old fast food habits and eating out? If so, are they tired of cleaning up after the meal? A recent consumer survey by marketing research firm Hunter found that 71% of people indicated they would remain cooking at home. Home cooks found joy in creativity and confidence in the kitchen. Many were motivated to save money, eat healthier, and feel good about their cooking experiences. Cooking after Covid has become a new normal in the American household.

My book, Generations of Good Food, offers various recipes for varying culinary skill levels. Basic foods like foolproof banana bread can be baked quickly to provide a nutritious snack. But the book also contains many main dishes that require patience, time, and skill to bring to the table. It also offers the opportunity for the family members to participate in preparation, learn new skills, and enjoy eating together.

In many ways, this is how memories are made. The cost of dining in restaurants or even fast-food outlets in the post-pandemic era is now a splurge. It is far less costly to put a meal on the table for a family at home than to dine outside. You don’t have to be skilled in the kitchen. You only need the desire to enjoy learning something new, share duties and spend time with loved ones. That, too, is how memories are made.

During the lockdown, lines at food kitchens were long.

A new phenomenon began to take shape – imperfect foods. Families found themselves waiting for boxes of groceries or were greeted by empty grocery shelves. Learning to cook different foods became routine. Because food boxes lacked the traditional junk food we eat, there was also a renewed interest in the nutritional values of foods. Cooking might have been a challenge for some. Yet there was a new interest too in spices and food cultures. As an alternative, families began ordering meal kits for home cooking. They are delivered to the door, perfectly proportioned, contain all the necessary ingredients, can be called for special diets, and skip the store and stress of meal planning. Costs vary, but these meal kits may contain fish, chicken, beef, pork, vegetarian, or vegan entrees. For the meat and potato crowd, meatless Monday arrived. Pizzas became an ingredient free-for-all with various combinations of toppings and sauces.

We are all happy for the opportunity to be back out, socializing in public and supporting our local eateries. But there is still the warmth of standing in your kitchen trying your skill at something new. Many pasta dishes in Generations of Good Food make an evening or Sunday meal special. With the advent of spring, we are entering the grilling season when the art of caveman cooking prevails. Spring and summer allow us to spend time outdoors grilling something as simple as burgers, hot dogs, and brats to something more challenging such as beer can chicken. Cooking after Covid may be the new family entertainment. Generations of Good Food has many dessert ideas and salads and sides that would complement any meal. How about a Panzanella salad to go with that grilled chicken or steak? How about a batch of grab ‘n go pecan Sandie or lemon ricotta cookies, or many others to satisfy your sweet tooth on the run?

Whatever your choice, dining out or dining in, make it a special time for the family. As we make our way out of the comforts of our home, go back to the office to work, or socialize with our friends, the idea of enjoying a home-cooked meal will always appeal to the masses. This isn’t to say formal dinner parties will emerge. No, we have become a society of casual dining. May you continue to enjoy learning new skills and techniques and take the opportunity to include learning about many food cultures.

Enjoy cooking with new spices and treat your tastebuds to something different. Re-create your favorite restaurant meal at home. I don’t think I am wrong when I say cooking after Covid is here to stay and indeed the new normal.

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