Sticky

Post-Covid takeaways - some personal reflections

Sticky's Food & Drink team share some personal reflections on how their eating habits have changed as a result of lockdown.

From fewer but bigger visits to the supermarket to supporting independent suppliers via baking our own sourdough and following ‘make-at-home’ recipes from our favourite chains, we’ve all been living the changes to consumer behaviour that emerged in lockdown.

Now, as the industry starts to adjust to its ‘new normal’, we thought we’d share the things that we want to stay – and the ones we can happily live without.

Carla, 34, lives in East Yorkshire with her husband and two children, 6 and 1

‘We have massively changed our shopping habits. We used to shop almost every day, picking up bits here and there. Now we plan for the week and do one big shop, which is much kinder on our finances and results in less waste. We also have a favourite supermarket, whereas previously we’ve never had any loyalty to one store.

Flexible working plus no school means we have all sat down together to eat three meals a day as a family, which is something we’d love to keep as part of our lives.

‘Flexible working plus no school means we have all sat down together to eat three meals a day as a family, which is something we’d love to keep as part of our lives.

‘Food and drink have always been a huge part of our social life and we’ve taken this into lockdown with a weekly family bake-off (judged on appearance only) and online gin-tasting sessions with friends.

‘We’ve also definitely been using food as a treat, and while we’ve lowered spending in some areas, we have joined a fancy wine delivery service and have had takeaways from some of our favourite restaurants. As a family with young kids, we would definitely keep using takeaway services from restaurants, as we love good food and can’t always get childcare.’

Emilia, 28, lives in London with her partner

‘Before Covid, most days I would choose what I was having for dinner while I was in the supermarket. There was zero planning and it was a decision based on what was on offer, what was healthy, and what could be cooked quickly. I never did shopping lists.

‘If I needed something I’d just pop out and grab it, even if it was just one item. I ate out about three times a week with friends and never had takeaways.

More time to plan meals means I’m researching recipes and making big dishes which we can eat throughout the week.

‘Since Covid, everything has changed. More time to plan meals means I’m researching recipes and making big dishes which we can eat throughout the week. We go shopping less often and buy more stuff on each trip, though that can be tricky if you don’t have a car. We’ve been eating a takeaway once a week just to break up the cooking.

‘But we can’t wait to get back to restaurants. I’m a big foodie and have zero qualms about getting back out there. I like the idea of continuing to plan but, honestly, as life starts to speed up again I probably won’t have time and will just go back to daily trips to the supermarket – goodbye shopping list!’

Dan, early 50s, lives in north London and has three children (13, 10, 8)

‘In lockdown we cooked more, wasted less – and also ate more. My oldest daughter took to baking constantly, and I extended my repertoire of dull but reliable weekday dinners. I branched out into making bread, soups, even mango chutney.

All the pounds we saved on not eating out or buying cappuccinos or heading to the pub went straight on to the waistline.

‘Friends and relatives expressed their fears of takeaways and deliveries, but our children are pizza fiends, and a weekly Dominos order became the affordable treat that helped keep us sane and reminded us what day of the week it was. After a few weeks of keep-fit enthusiasm, we stopped tuning into Joe Wickes and the strict exercise regimes we’d all sworn to follow quietly wilted away. All the pounds we saved on not eating out or buying cappuccinos or heading to the pub went straight on to the waistline.

‘I think we’ve all learned to expand our cooking repertoire a bit – including my children – and realised that quite a few things that we used to unthinkingly buy in processed or pre-prepared form (hummus, flatbread, ground coffee etc) are actually quite as easy to prepare from scratch – and more satisfying too. We’re all likely to recycle a bit more and try to waste less food, and I’m definitely keen to try not to spend as much money on non-essentials. Well, that’s the dream anyway…’

Ellea, 23, spent lockdown in Northamptonshire with her parents and brother

‘Prior to lockdown we rarely had takeaways delivered to the house; we would normally go out to eat at the weekends as our treat. During lockdown we have been getting takeaways at least once a week to compensate for not being able to go out.

‘Due to the queues to get into supermarkets, we now do one big food shop a week and have to plan for the meals that we all want to eat. Prior to lockdown we would all have something different to eat at dinner time, whatever we fancied on that day, but we are now finding ourselves having more family meals.

‘After all of this over, I will definitely try to plan meals more often rather than just picking something up on the day, because it’s more of a money-saver more than I thought.’

Shelley, 34, lives in Canvey Island, Essex

‘Since being in lockdown, the way I buy food has changed a lot. Before the pandemic I was time-poor and a bit lazy with my food choices. I worked in the city and my commute was over two hours each way so I would never really cook or prepare anything healthy to eat.

‘I had more time to cook and was getting bored, so thought learning a new skill would be good and at the same time I would be getting something healthier into my system

‘When we went into lockdown, I carried on eating frozen food and made trips to smaller convenience stores near me to stock up on essentials. But I got fed up with the lack of variety. I didn't want to go into supermarkets and couldn't get a delivery slot so I decided to try a home recipe box.

‘I had more time to cook and was getting bored, so thought learning a new skill would be good and at the same time I would be getting something healthier into my system – some actual vegetables!’

‘Once we go back to normal living, I might use the recipe card that comes with each meal to make a shopping list and venture to the supermarket to see if it that would be more cost-effective. But the cost of the recipe box each week is no more than what I would normally spend on lunch. There is no food waste at all and the majority of the packaging can be recycled. The only downside for me is the amount of washing up!’

Jamie, 47, lives in London with his wife and son, 5

‘Pre-Covid we were already a family who planned our meals and did a ‘big shop’, an online order delivered once every 10 days or so, topped up with quick mid-week trips to smaller supermarkets. But we loved going out too, with one or two visits to a pub or restaurant as a family every week for lunch or dinner and a couple of takeaways a month thrown in for good measure.

‘All being at home for every meal, coupled with no chance to eat out, has seen our food bill soar. And while we’ve carried on shopping from the big brands, we’ve also started supporting local independent suppliers and getting boxes of fruit and veg delivered to the door. We’ve also been using the new takeaway services from our favourite restaurants and pubs – which is something we would love to keep doing even when everything is open again.

‘We rarely ate all our meals together as a family, and that’s also something new that we don’t want to let go, so any brand that can help us do that – with delivery or “make-at-home” boxes or recipes is going to get our support. Our version of Wagamama’s Chicken Katsu Curry is now a weekly treat.’

Sophie, 31, flatshares in London and spent some of lockdown with her parents in the south-east

‘I’m not sure I can ever go back to the way I lived before. Pre-Covid I would buy my lunch every day, and often breakfast too. I ate out at least three times a week. My social life often revolved around sharing food experiences together. Interestingly though, it’s not the health risk that concerns me so much as the damage to my bank balance.

Lockdown has taught me to make the best use of everything in my fridge and now I’m loath to throw any food away.

‘I’ve enjoyed having more time to practise cooking and baked my fair share of banana bread too (four in case you’re wondering, each completely different… not sure how that happens). Lockdown has taught me to make the best use of everything in my fridge and now I’m loath to throw any food away. Best-before dates are more advisory than fact.

‘It’s hard to predict whether I’ll be able to keep this up once the fast pace of life returns, if it does, but I’ll definitely be reducing my spend on eating out and looking to host more at home than before. The make-do attitude that my wartime-generation Nan always preached must finally be getting through to me!’

Our taster menu of top five post-Covid takeaways:

  • It’s back to the future for the ‘big shop’. The increase in meal planning and a larger basket spend is here to stay.
  • Food and beverage retail brands can capitalise by helping people to plan their week, offer menu alternatives, shopping basket ideas and develop tech that supports the customer experience.
  • Loyalty is back. We all needed a shopping solution and the brand that made our lives easier in lockdown will have to mess up to lose our custom. Examine your data, and reward that loyalty.
  • The rise in home cooking and experimenting isn’t heading for the back burner. Help your customers eat your food at home in new and exciting ways. From menu cards to YouTube explainers to branded sauces, find a way to inject your brand into our kitchens.
  • Delivery will keep delivering. We’ve loved being able to eat out by staying in. It’s flexible, it’s great for families, there are great opportunities to keep serving a market who don’t want to rush back to restaurants.

For further information on Sticky, or to talk to us about a business challenge or campaign, contact: Ben Reilly, New Business Director, +44 (0)207 963 7070

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