#4 | Anitha - I order 100% of my groceries on Instamart every single day!
What's cooking - Qualitative study to understand food in urban households
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Everyone has been trying out the Chat GPT. For a change, rather than asking a dumb question like ‘How to apologise to my wife?’ or ‘How to propose to a girl?’, I asked GPT to summarise the interview in less than 300 words. For your reference, I have linked the AI TL;DR version of the story at the end. I believe GPT summarisations will be powerful, too, in consuming qualitative research in near future. I’m excited.
About the research: 'What's Cooking?' is a user research series aimed at understanding how urban millennial households consume food. All the names and personally identifiable information are masked to honour the participants' privacy. I publish one story from this series every Thursday.
#4 | Anitha
Anitha and her husband live in Bangalore, where they both work in the tech industry. Anitha is a product designer, and her husband is a data scientist. They both work from home and have been living in Bangalore before marriage. They live in a gated society located on the outskirts of Bangalore. The couple has a cook who comes home daily to help them with their cooking. Anitha has had challenges in sticking with a cook. In the last year, she has had four cooks changed.
Anitha and her husband are non-vegetarian and prefer South Indian cuisine. They didn't have a regular cook coming to their home for the first four months, so they mostly cooked their food and ordered out for about 60% of their meals. In April, they hired a South Indian cook who came once a day to prepare a full meal for their lunch. They have the leftovers for dinner, and Anitha doesn't usually eat breakfast. Her husband prepares his food for breakfast in the likes of oats and cereals. The couple occasionally goes out to have breakfast together. Since getting a new cook, they have reduced their food ordering by half.
On weekends, they visit their in-laws, who live in the city centre, and they often explore new food by ordering or dining out. They have way better options to explore here than at home on weekdays.
Here's a snapshot of their food behaviour during weekdays & weekends.
I changed 4 cooks in the last year!
Anitha and her husband started living together in December 2021 and had a cook prepare one meal daily. They let go of the cook and resorted to preparing their meals or ordering out.
The main challenge was the mismatch between what the cook claimed she was good at and her natural cooking style. She was excellent with a few dishes like Pav Bhaji and aloo paratha, but the South Indian couple weren’t fond of eating them frequently. Many days, they had asked the cook not to come home as they were tired of eating the same four dishes that she cooked well.
Anitha later tried different cooks but had difficulty finding one that fit their needs. Her maid acted as her HR to scout for new leads.
I have always head-hunted these cooks by my maid. She is the one who usually is the HR - talent acquisition person in the house. She sends someone, and I tell them my expectations. They usually say yes to everything, but they couldn’t be better at most. But I needed something to work on, so finally, I found a cook through the MyGate app.
Eventually, when the couple got married and moved in permanently, she found a cook who knew how to make various South Indian dishes and could follow Youtube instructions if asked to create something new. Her current cook is a South Indian cook who prepares one full-fledged meal for lunch, which is extended as dinner.
I learnt two things about this particular cook: my husband is a Tamilan, and I’m Telugu, and she is also half Telugu and half Tamil. Her cooking style is similar to what both of us eat. The second thing is that she is genuinely a good cook. I wanted to try something new a couple of days ago and showed her a Youtube video. She followed the video and did it excellently.
Despite this, they still order out for around 30-40% of their meals. Anitha and her husband are satisfied with their current cook but have yet to consider extending their cook for breakfast or dinner
I order 100% of my groceries on Instamart every single day!
Anitha orders items from grocery form Instamart daily. If something runs out during the day, she will either place an order for it on Instamart, or if the item is out of stock, she will go to the local grocery store to pick up the item. She has never had to go to a physical supermarket.
In the morning, she checks their fridge for things that need to be replenished and order them through the app. If the cook needs an item, not in the fridge, she will order it on the app or go to the society's grocery store to pick it up.
They do not bulk-store vegetables because Anitha want to save food if the cook does not come or they need to go out.
On most days, the availability of ingredients on the app determines what they can make for their meals. Sometimes, they will order ingredients for a specific dish, like biryani.
The feeling of wanting to eat something different has spoilt us.
Anitha and her husband order food more than 5-6 times a week. This is mainly due to feeling hungry and wanting something different.
They order dinner, when there aren't any leftovers from lunch, and they order on weekends if they have guests coming over or if they want to treat themselves to dessert.
Restaurants are chosen based on availability and sorting by delivery time and ratings. Most of the time, they prefer orders with a delivery time of under 30 minutes. Generally, when they are out of ideas, they opt for whatever is quickest.
Anitha has a Swiggy one subscription, and the couple prefers to order from one single account to avail of free delivery. Occasionally they place two different orders when the preferences for the meal can't reach a consensus.
We do end up ordering from different restaurants if there is a situation where I want this, but the other person doesn't want that. Situations where I order Tacos. I really love Tacos, and he doesn't like Tacos at all. My husband is also more health conscious than I am. So he wants to order from a Mumbai tiffin or something that's more homely and less like fast food. Whereas I feel okay if I am ordering out, I might as well do this cheat thing as a cheat itself. So this happens a few times and I would say it only happens sometimes.
The thought process for dinner times is more complicated as both parties usually know what they want to eat. Yet, the time for delivery may be too long, leading to them ultimately settling for something like biryani.
Because a lot of times what happens is that I say I feel like having Taco Bell and then we open and see it takes 60 minutes, Smoke House DELI takes 60 minutes and then we leave it. Essentially two thing will happen, we will settle for biryani which is I think we end up eating at least 40% of the time when we try to order out, or we keep seeing what could come quickly and if it is a recognizable place like if we have ordered from there before or something along those lines, then we choose those restaurants and go ahead.
I make restaurant wish lists from Instagram and word of mouth
Anitha has a list on her phone of places that she wants to visit. This list is inspired by the posts she sees on Instagram pages and her friends recommend places to her.
She and her husband both enjoy exploring different restaurants together. Recently, they discovered Rameshwaram cafe and a Dharshini-type breakfast place.
She believes that social media has opened up a lot of doors when it comes to finding new places as it gives people an opportunity to experience it in a way that can make them want to try it out. Even though she has not explored a lot of different cities, the number of places she would have normally visited has increased due to social media.
Anitha has been influenced to try new places by both influencers and regular people she follows on social media. She has also been influenced by friends who have posted pictures of their meals on social media.
Before Instagram, I would discover restaurants through Zomato. But I think the way Instagram has changed the way. It is like you get to sort of experience it. You see the restaurant, you see the food, they also give you the recommendations of what you could order. So it pushes you to try something out. This is not just with influencers, even regular people. So, even a friend of mine posted a story a few days ago of a meal that she was eating and the meal looked really good. So we decided to go to that place. So I feel like social media is too influenceable, and impressionable.
I’m more disciplined about food post-marriage.
Anitha and her husband are similar in their food preferences, with the only exception being that her husband prefers to eat healthily. She is happy to accommodate this preference because she knows it is healthier. They do not have any conflicts or differences of opinion regarding food.
Anitha has noticed a significant change in her eating habits since getting married, such as a consistent south Indian meal for lunch, no desserts during weekdays and experimenting with her cook. Overall, they have become more disciplined, and their kitchen is better equipped.
I have also been trying to reduce sugar. That is something that right now we actively do. We don’t have sugar during the weekdays. Hopefully at some point go completely sugar free. Another thing that we both trying to do is be gluten free as well. For a while I did try to go dairy free as well but it is difficult again with Indian diets especially when there is so much curd in everything.
Here is how Chat GPT summarised the conversation
‘Anitha and her husband live in Bangalore, where they work in the tech industry. They both work from home and have a cook who comes to their house once a day to help with cooking. Anitha and her husband prefer South Indian cuisine but have had difficulty finding a cook who can make the dishes they like. They initially didn't have a cook, but eventually found one through the Mygate app who can make many different South Indian dishes and can follow instructions from a Youtube video to learn new recipes. They still order food from restaurants about 30-40% of the time. Anitha orders groceries on Instamart daily and goes to the local grocery store if items are out of stock. On weekends, they visit their in-laws and often explore new foods by dining out.’
Conclusion and key takeaways
In the book power of habit, Charles Duhigg states that individuals are highly likely to change their behaviour post significant life events like getting married, having a kid, moving to a new city or even getting a pay hike.
Anitha and her husband’s story perfectly shows how much your habits can change after life-altering events. Social media has significantly influenced their food choices, with photos and stories on Instagram inspiring them to try new places. Habits, after all, form the bedrock of our lives and are an undeniable part of the story that our lives weave. What were some of the life changes that you adopted post your marriage? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks to Rajesh Raghavan for co-writing this piece.
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