Every generation approaches food in a new way. Gen Z (the generation born, like olive in 2003, between 1997 and 2012) have embraced the idea that food should be delicious to look at and eat, with a healthy dose of pragmatism. We wanted to find out more about their attitude to cooking, eating and shopping. Here are some of the findings revealed by our survey of 1,016 Gen Zers.*


Breakfast, lunch and dinner? Over it!

At home, a picture emerges of change, of new traditions replacing old. Consider that almost a third (32%) think sitting down all together as a family or group for every meal is an old-fashioned way of eating; and almost a third (31%) think the same of having three meals a day at set times. Gen Z is more likely (54%) to say they eat intuitively, when they’re hungry. Worth noting: 43% with a household income between £45,001-55,000 say they eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at set times, compared with 35% in the £15,001-25,000 bracket. When asked how more money would affect their eating habits, eating more healthily (45%) and buying more sustainable ingredients (34%) trumped eating out more (33%).

Cow’s milk is still the dominant milk; 48% drink it weekly (meaning 52%, a high percentage, don’t). Oat (21%) and almond (21%) tie for second. Outside of water, 32% drink fruit juice at least weekly, closely followed by coffee (31%), diet fizzy drinks (30%) and tea (30%). More drink bubble tea at least weekly than alcohol (16% vs 14%).

Olive is totally on board with this – everyone is different so eat to suit yourself! Think brunch, solo, light, fuss-free dinners and late-night bar snacks with cocktails.

It's hard to be eco – Gen Z knows what it needs to do even if it finds it hard to act

In the popular imagination, Gen Zers are eco warriors. The survey’s findings suggest that’s not always the case. More care about how nutritious food is (30%) and how calorific it is (28%) than about eating organically (22%). Only 50% have a reusable shopping bag, 47% a reusable water bottle. We know it’s difficult to be green – we appreciate that Gen Z thinks hard and long about these issues and we’re 100% behind helping create a better world. We’ll be adding more sustainability coverage to everything we do.

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Tomatoes in a reusable shopping bag

Two things you need for a Gen Z meal (a microwave and camera phone) and one thing you don't (pudding)

Social media is important to Gen Z. A huge 68% say they are most likely to get food, recipe and ingredients inspiration from TikTok. By comparison, 54% cite YouTube, 49% Instagram. There’s a marked gender split, with females more likely than males to use TikTok (72% vs 56%), and vice versa for YouTube (62% vs 53%). Just over three in five (61%) say they make certain meals because they look good on socials; more than half (52%) order food based on how it looks on socials. That’s probably why two in five (45%) agree that what food looks like is the most important thing. Camera eats first! When scouting a place to eat, 56% most commonly turn to TikTok, though old-school word of mouth comes second at 44%. Within Gen Z, there are fissures: the 18-year-olds are more likely to use TikTok for eating out inspiration than the 25-year-olds (63% vs 49%). Gen Zers, we know, are digital natives. More than three in five (62%) respondents trust recipes from social media; fewer (40%) trust generative AI, though the males in the sample do more so (51% vs female respondents’ 37%).

These days food inspo comes from everywhere – we think social feeds are a great way to keep up with what’s happening on the scene right now (and to sneak a peek at what your friends are cooking for dinner!).

Which kitchen gadgets do Gen Zers own?

  • 71% Microwave
  • 54% Air fryer
  • 44% Smoothie maker/blender
  • 44% Sandwich toaster
  • 38% Coffee machine
  • 37% Slow cooker
  • 36% Electric whisk
  • 23% Rice cooker
  • 21% Waffle maker
  • 20% Pressure cooker
  • 20% Pizza oven
  • 15% Bread maker

What Gen Z considers to be outdated:

35% Having alcohol with every main meal
32% Sitting down together as a family or group for every meal
31% Having a pudding with every main meal
31% Eating three meals a day at set times
24% Afternoon tea
24% Meat and two veg

What does Gen Z do to be more sustainable?

50% Use a reusable shopping bag
47% Have a refillable water bottle
36% Shop locally
30% Have a reusable cup for hot drinks
29% Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables
14% Check ingredients' country of origin
6% Nothing

Two hands holding out reusable coffee cups

*The research was conducted by Censuswide, among a sample of 1,016 Gen Z respondents (aged 16-26). The data was collected between 25-29 August 2023. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

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