23 Nov Seven weeks of home-cooked meals: changes to New Zealanders’ grocery shopping, cooking and eating during the COVID-19 lockdown
The first COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in Aotearoa New Zealand resulted in disruptions to everyday life, including changes in grocery shopping, cooking and eating. This study aimed to capture changes in behaviours and perceptions of grocery shopping and food preparation during the lockdown, and the extent to which dietary patterns changed during this period. Data were collected in an online survey of 3028 adults (89% women, mean age = 44 years, range 18–87 years, the median time in lockdown = 40 days), during Aotearoa New Zealand’s lockdown Alert levels 4 (33.4%) and Level 3 (66.6%). Respondents had decreased enjoyment of grocery shopping and increased home cooking and baking from scratch. There was an overall shift toward an unhealthy dietary pattern, with some respondents reporting increased consumption of sweet snacks (41%), salty snacks (33%), alcohol (33%), and sugary drinks (20%) during the lockdown. Age moderated the effect of lockdown for nearly every measure, with adults aged under 50 years the most likely to report adverse changes to their eating behaviours and diet. Future pandemic responses by government and employers should include public health nutrition policies and mitigate the stress for younger adults and those caring for children at home.