Image credit: Nestlé using creative commons license.

Last week, Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith wrote a letter to investors to tell them that times are tough in the world of fast casual dining.

According to Smith, one of the big reasons for the struggles of Applebee’s and others in the world of fast dining is millennials are eschewing mountainous plates of fried fare to cook at home and use food delivery services like Blue Apron.

Here at the Spoon, we’re not surprised. According to a survey we conducted of over 1000 US households, we found that 95% of millennials (age group 18-29) cook weekly at home, compared with 92% of those aged 30-44 and 93% of those aged 45-59.

However, while a slightly higher percentage of millennials do cook at home, they do so less frequently than their older counterparts. According to our survey, 47% of millennials cook at home 5 or more times per week, compared with 55% of those aged 30-44 and 60% of those over 60.

When they aren’t cooking at home, millennials aren’t necessarily heading to their local Red Robin. That’s because as Smith notes, the younger generation has embraced home delivery more fully than their older peers.

As can be seen above, millennials are the biggest adopters of home delivery from restaurants. According to our survey, 36% of those under age 30 have food delivered from their local restaurant, compared with 34% of those aged 30-44 and just 19% of those over 60.  Those aged 30-44 are most likely to use meal kit services (10%), just slightly ahead of the 9% of those under 30 years of age who use meal kit services. Only 3% of those over 60 use meal kits delivery services, according to our survey.

When millennials do decide to cook at home, are they zapping frozen food in the microwave or trying to unleash their inner Bobby Flay with a more complicated multi-ingredient meal?

According to our survey, the most common typical meal (33%) is a simple one or two ingredient meals like burgers or spaghetti, while some choose to spend a couple of hours making a more complicated meal (26%).  It’s clear this isn’t the microwave dinner generation, with just 11% choosing a frozen or instant meal on a typical night.

So when they do cook at home, what type of equipment do use? Pretty much the same as everyone else. According to our survey, the under 30 crowd use stove tops, microwaves and ovens as their go-to cooking equipment for a typical meal, just as their older peers do. Millennials were more likely to use a toaster oven than other age groups, with one-third of respondents under 30 using the quick and convenient device once per week.

Not all hope is lost for restaurants hoping to get some wallet share of millennials. According to our survey, 47% of those aged under 30 still eat out at least once per week, and 21% eat out multiple times per week.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that restaurants don’t have lots of work today, especially when it comes to figuring out how to deal with the robots both in the front and back of house.

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