To cook or not to cook: a means-end study of motives for choice of meal solutions

Ana I. de A. Costa*, Diane Schoolmeester, Mathijs Dekker, Wim M. F. Jongen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

174 Citations (Scopus)


Few studies have approached the issue of the motivations for choice of meal solutions. This is, however, a matter of undeniable importance when individuals select, purchase, prepare and consume foods. This study resorted to the means-end chain theory and laddering interviews to conduct an analysis of the motives behind the choice of meal solutions of 50 Dutch subjects. The analysis yielded hierarchical value maps for homemade meals, ready meals, take-out and eating out (as general meal solutions), and for frozen pizza and chilled hotpot (as specific ready meals). Results show that the replacement of homemade meals by ready meals is, to a great extent, dependent on how subjects trade-off perceived sensory and health-related benefits with convenience features. Meal context, a highly positive evaluation of homemade cooking and some moral-based criticism towards saving time and energy in food preparation may nevertheless play a considerable role in meal solutions' choice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Convenience
  • Dutch consumer
  • Food choice
  • Laddering
  • Meal solutions
  • Means-end


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