BBC Good Food Nation: How Britain eats

To celebrate our 25th birthday, we set out to discover what makes the nation tick when it comes to food. Our survey of 10,000 people, conducted by YouGov, reveals how we eat, cook, shop and enjoy our food today - and the stand out stat? We all love microwaves…

Britain skill rating

How well can you cook?

We asked people to rate their cooking prowess on a scale of 1-10.  A confident 18% across the nation rated themselves 8 or above in the kitchen whilst 14% were less boastful, ranking themselves a lowly 3 or below. The surest chefs can be found in the North of England where 19% of people put themselves in the top cooking tiers. 

In terms of recipe repertoire, 52% of Brits can confidently cook 10 or more dishes from scratch, however 10% of the population can’t cook anything. 

Can cooking make you happy?

cooking emotions



If the pleasure of good grub wasn’t motivation enough to up skill in the kitchen, our second finding should tempt you to brush up on your basics. Those that prided themselves on their cooking prowess felt the happier for it, reporting they felt more inspired and less stressed than those with less skill. An overall 36% of respondents said cooking had made them feel happier in the past week, while a saucy 2% admitted to feeling hot in a way not related to the food!

The cheeriest bunch of cooks can be found in Yorkshire and the Humber (40%), whilst those in the East of England found themselves the most stressed whilst cooking (15%).

Cook better and be happier with our 25 key skills that will help you cook anything.


What's the nation's most cooked meal?

Despite the growth in global food trends, we’re still a nation fond of familiar favourites as 50% selected roast dinner as a dish they regularly cooked. London (44%), Scotland (50%) and the South of England (52%) were regional exceptions, cooking a plate of spag Bol more frequently than the Sunday classic.

Remember why you love it with our ultimate roast recipes


How often do we eat together?

Despite the pressures and demands of modern day Britain we’re still a nation loathe to eat alone. A sociable 48% of us make the time to eat together every day, with 77% of us eating as a household at least once a week. Dining together daily was most common among those aged 55 plus, with 16-24 year olds most likely to eat alone all week - 19% said that they ate with their household less than once a week or never.

Is it ok to watch TV when we eat?

Whilst we’re making the effort to chew the cud with a crowd, it doesn’t always follow that they’ll be getting our full attention. 67% of people surveyed online admitted to having at least one screen on when eating, while, 20% of people view two or more. Is watching Corrie over your carbonara a bad thing? Or is it better than checking your Blackberry over your bangers and mash?

Make the most of those meals-for-one with our scrumptious solo suppers


Your most vital kitchen kit...

We asked people to pick a piece of equipment they couldn’t be without and a decisive 56% picked their microwave. From softening spuds to reheating leftovers, the microwave’s role in convenience cooking cannot be denied, still we were surprised to see it outstrip, knives, toasters and hand-blenders to the top spot.

Use it for more than just jacket spuds with our pick of marvellous meals you can cook in the microwave, from risotto to chocolate cake


How much meat do we all eat?

Whether it's headlines about horsemeat or people feeling the financial pinch, we are eating less meat. 25% of our respondents said they ate less meat this year than they did last because they are trying to spend less money on food, worried about the quality of the meat or considering becoming a vegetarian. Though 31% of people said they eat meat every day. The most regular meat consumers were young people between 16 and 24 (42%), whilst those in the North West and South West were the least likely to eat meat each day.

Cut down on meat with these classic dishes reinvented minus the meat

Who makes their own lunch?

Minimising meat isn’t the only frugal finding of our survey, 32% of us made the effort to always make our own lunch. The most regular lunch makers were people in the South West (36%) and East of England (36%) with Londoners the least likely to eat a daily, self-made spread (24%). Whilst we’re a nation pleased to pack up, we were less positive about grazing on the go. 38% of respondents complained that eating at our desks was unhygienic, while 58% found eating on tubes and buses unpleasant.

Pack it in with our favourite lunchbox recipes


Coffee or tea?

Britain’s love of breakfast tea is hardly front page stuff, but the burgeoning coffee bar boom has seen chichi coffee shops pop up across the country. Popular they may be but are no challenge to the classic brew as a comfortable majority of 41% opted for tea as their breakfast drink of choice. Coffee topped the list for 29% of respondents. Teabags pipped coffee beans to the top spot in all regions across the country and, despite its cool credentials, coffee was most popular among those aged 40+ (35% for 40-54 and 33% for 55+).


What's the nation's favourite takeaway?

Fish and chips or tikka masala are the nation’s often quoted takeaway dishes of choice but it was actually Chinese that took the top spot in our findings. 56% of respondents hailed Chinese as their takeaway of choice, with only the 16 – 24 year olds preferring Italian as their go-to takeaway cuisine (53%).    




Surprised by the survey findings? Or does Britain eat exactly as you suspected? Share you thoughts with us below. We'd love to hear how you compare…


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 10,287 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21th - 29th July 2014.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 16+).


Comments, questions and tips

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2nd Oct, 2014
I'm not surprised that 10% of people say they can't cook any meal from scratch, although I think its very sad , if only because they're less likely to ever try your Best Ever Chocolate Brownies!! I'm no masterchef but I can follow a recipe and I would say I enjoy cooking especially because it helps me to eat healthier food and make better choices. I use your website to find new dinners to make while I'm doing my food shopping or to help me use leftovers & I'd like to thank you for helping me to increase my cooking repertoire!!
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