iPad in Kitchen
Nov 23, 2015 • By

Millennials dish up with technology

When I moved out on my own after college my aunt bought me a Betty Crocker cookbook. That shiny red and white book – “Big Red,” as it’s known – felt like a symbol of me being a ‘real adult.’ I’m sure my aunt imagined that in the years that followed that cookbook would be my go-to for all things in the kitchen.

But that hasn’t exactly been the case.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful cookbook, full of great recipes and cooking tips. But I’m one of those digitally-connected millennials who is one with my smartphone, tablet and laptop. So, I’ve been turning to Betty’s app and website – and Pillsbury.com – instead of the cookbook, more often.

My iPhone isn’t just an avenue for me to socialize and stay up on current events, it’s also my always-in-my-purse recipe receptacle. From mobile apps, to websites and Pinterest boards, an array of recipes are always at my fingertips – no matter where I’m at.

And I’m not alone, according to recent market research cited by Audra Carson, media platforms manager at General Mills.

Digital Technology

I wanted to learn more about how my fellow millennials are dishing up delicious meals from recipes they found on digital platforms, so I talked to Audra; and Melissa Abbott, vice president at The Hartman Group, Inc.; and my foodie friend Kenna Shearman.

While I spoke with Audra, Abbott and Shearman separately, the insights they each shared with me were surprisingly similar.

Shearman is a digitally-connected 27-year-old millennial who loves cooking. She’s a regular at her local farmer’s market, she purchases all of her meat from a Minnesota farm and she seeks variety in the meals she prepares.

Kenna cooking chicken

Shearman is what Audra would describe as a digital food-engaged millennial.

“They’re looking for creativity in their experiences with food; fresh ideas they’ve never seen before; fresh ingredients they’ve never tried before; and clever ways that they can make a meal easier or save money,” says Audra.

Abbott says millennials are shifting food culture.

Recipe Request on Facebook

“Millennials came of age during the whole internet revolution,” she explains. “Millennials have kind of helped build the future of how we will interpret food choice in the near and lasting future. And this has everything to do with health and wellness and transparency. We’re so much more food literate than ever before. And what can we thank for that? The internet and social media. This goes across all demographics, but there is no doubt that millennials are the ones where this is normal for them. This isn’t something that is new or different. This is how they live their lives and that expectation is rippling off to the Boomers and Gen X-ers.”

Which is the case with my friend Kenna’s mother.

“My mom loves recipes and I’ve gotten her into Pinterest, so she uses that frequently. She sends me recipes via email a lot, too,” she explains. “I think it’s easy to integrate.”

While Shearman does have a standard set of cookbooks, she’s also using Pinterest, websites and following bloggers who post new recipes online daily.

“I love using online resources. I think that cookbooks are great because they’re timeless – just like written books – instead of using audio books or your Kindle. I think they’re great to have and pass on and to have them for my kids and their kids,” she says. “But online is way more convenient and I feel like there’s more variety and it doesn’t cost me anything. I think technology is an awesome resource that some people are scared to use, but I feel like it will take over cookbooks soon.”

Tablespoon on phone

According to Abbott, you can’t count out cookbook just yet – sales are still climbing.

“Even if they’re on their smartphone, using everything digital all the time, there are still hard copies of cookbooks in millennials’ homes and apartments. It seems that it’s more of a comforting feeling to have these cookbooks and the stories behind them. But people are using them less and less to learn and implement everyday meals,” she says.

Ironically, when I went to Kenna’s home, her iPad was propped up against her wooden box of cookbooks.   

Abbott says millennials’ approach to recipes has changed from previous generations.

“They don’t follow recipes ‘to the T.’ It’s not about ‘What are the rules to follow?’ because millennials don’t follow recipe rules like other cohorts have,” she adds. “They’re looking at the same recipe from a variety of sources focused on the same recipe. They compare them and create a variation on their own. That’s what social media and Google has done. Google has assisted and been the sous chef for millennials today. YouTube is the grandma now teaching millennials how to cook.”  Kenna in Kitchen

Shearman knows millennials sometimes get a bad rap, but there’s little doubt many are changing how we all create in the kitchen.

“I think our generation is savvy and intelligent and I think that our ‘with-it-ness’ in technology is a benefit to us. But we’re not just able to use apps or websites – like the generation coming after us – we’re able to integrate a cookbook,” Shearman says. “I think taking advantage of the technology we understand, and from what’s been passed down from previous generations, allows us a big advantage in cooking.”

Abbott says technology also is providing a lot of new opportunities in the prepared and semi-prepared food space.

“Time is the most expensive thing,” says Abbott. “And millennials are feeling that more than any other generation because they’re just starting their careers, they’re in their careers, they’re starting families, they’re at this stage where time is of the essence. They don’t have the time to devote to finding and making recipes, so they’re going to be relying more on food delivery and subscription services. There are ideas that are really going to have an impact that haven’t been created, they’re not even out there yet. Technology is really going to support the growth of this space.”

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