How Low-Income Mothers Select and Adapt Recipes and Implications for Promoting Healthy Recipes Online

Nutrients. 2019 Feb 5;11(2):339. doi: 10.3390/nu11020339.


We describe a 5-year (2011⁻2015) qualitative evaluation to refine the content/delivery of the Food Hero social marketing campaign recipes to low-income mothers. Objectives were to: (1) identify characteristics looked for in recipes; (2) determine recipe sources; (3) understand motivation for seeking new recipes and recipe adaptations; and (4) identify recipe website characteristics users valued. Nine focus groups (n = 55) were conducted in Portland, Oregon. Participants (35⁻52 years) were primary caregivers for ≥ one child, the primary household food shoppers/preparers, enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and able to speak/read English. Participants reported having "go-to" family recipes and regularly searching online for new recipes, especially those using ingredients available/preferred by family members. Recipe websites with highest appeal were polished and engaging to mothers/children, offered user-ratings/comments and were reachable from search engines. Results identified key recommendations: (1) understand the target audience; (2) aim to add healthy/customizable recipes to family "go-to' recipe rotations and understand the impact of generational influences (e.g. how mothers/grandmothers cooked) on family meals; and (3) create websites that meet target audience criteria. Seeking the target audience's input about the content/delivery of recipes is an important formative step for obesity-prevention projects that include healthy recipes.

Keywords: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); children; feeding behavior; focus group; low-income mothers; nutrition; recipe; social marketing; social media; website development.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cooking*
  • Family
  • Focus Groups
  • Food Assistance
  • Humans
  • Meals*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers*
  • Nutritive Value
  • Poverty*
  • Social Marketing*