Cooking at home is likely to be associated with benefits to diet and health. However, the nuanced perceptions and practices linked to different types of cooking are not yet fully understood. This research aimed to explore the specific concept of 'home cooking', using qualitative research from the UK and US. Data from two previously completed studies exploring cooking at home were combined and a new secondary analysis was undertaken using the Framework Method. Data in the first study were drawn from participants in the North East of the UK who were interviewed. Data in the second study were drawn from participants in Baltimore, US, who took part in focus groups. Data from a total of 71 adults (18 UK and 53 US), with diverse sociodemographic characteristics and experiences of cooking, were analysed. In both countries, participants distinguished 'home cooking' as a distinct subtype of cooking at home. 'Home cooking' was defined in terms of preparing a meal from scratch, cooking with love and care, and nostalgia. Cooking at home had a range of dimensions, and perceptions of 'home cooking' tended to focus on social and emotional associations. In future, public health initiatives might, therefore, highlight the potential social and emotional benefits of 'home cooking', rather than emphasising implications for physical health.
Keywords: cooking; diet; health; home food preparation; nutrition.