From Family Traditions to Culinary Revolutions: How Recipe Use Evolves Across Generations

picture of Mustard Seed Market Cafe Kids Meal

So my husband visited a college friend, in his home, while in New York state.  Brian and his wife Denise cook for their large family daily.

On this particular evening, a brand new, untested recipe was served on the table.  A question of family and recipes came up “So, Denise, do you always use new recipes, and how about your mom?”    It turns out that just like me, using the Internet to print a new daily recipe is the norm in their house.  And like my mother in law, Denise’s mother uses a fixed suite of recipes.

Cooking and eating are universal experiences that span across generations. Each generation has its own set of culinary habits and preferences, and it is fascinating to observe the differences in how different age groups approach food. One of the most striking differences is the attitude toward recipes. Baby boomers tend to reuse only a select few recipes (They’ve been making the same tuna casserole since the 70s!) , while Generation X and younger often only use a recipe one time. Let’s analyze this difference and explore the possible reasons behind it.

The Baby Boomer Generation (born between 1946 and 1964) grew up in a time when home cooking was the norm. Women were expected to cook for their families, and there was a limited variety of ingredients available. As a result, Baby Boomers developed a small repertoire of recipes that they could rely on for everyday meals. These recipes were passed down from generation to generation and became family favorites. Baby boomers are known for their loyalty to certain recipes, and they often stick to these recipes for years.

Some of these recipes you’ll find on my blog as I’ve continued those traditions with my family because they were favorites growing up like sweet Babka Easter Bread.

picture of Babka Easter Bread Recipe
Babka Easter Bread Recipe

Easter Bread is always served on Easter morning with “Easter Sausage” and hard-boiled Easter eggs. I don’t think we’ll ever stray from this tradition, no matter how many new, fancy items are available.

picture of Babka Easter Bread Breakfast

On the other hand, younger generations led by Generation X  grew up in a time of abundance. Globalization, the rise of supermarkets, and the availability of diverse ingredients have led to a culinary revolution. This generation has access to a wealth of information about food and cooking, including cooking shows, cookbooks, and online recipe sites. As a result, they are more likely to experiment with new recipes and try out different cuisines.

So why do Baby Boomers stick to a small number of recipes, while younger generations are more willing to experiment with new ones? One reason may be that Baby Boomers have a strong emotional attachment to their family recipes. These recipes are often associated with memories of childhood and family gatherings. They may also be seen as a way to preserve family traditions and pass them down to future generations. If you’ve been around my blog long enough, you know the importance I place on cooking with kids for many good reasons including getting kids to eat healthier but just as important is quality time spent together, especially with multiple generations like in this photo below of my 3-year-old after she prepared 90% of this Perfect Potato Pocket recipe that won me the award of America’s Favorite Crescent Cook.

My mother-in-law is an amazing cook. We took this picture at her house as we were testing out recipes using some of our favorite ingredients. My mother-in-law is famous for her Chicken Bundle recipe that we have on a regular rotation about 2-3 times during the colder months. I need to update the post with a better picture but I wanted to show how my mother-in-law’s generation will keep a recipe for decades and decades because it’s good. My generation will keep it but also alter it like I did above with the Perfect Potato Pockets. See the similarities and differences in our approaches?

picture of Chicken Bundles Recipe
Chicken Bundles Recipe

Another reason may be that Baby Boomers are more set in their ways and resistant to change. For me, I don’t see that I’m resistant to change but cherish some meals over others based on the traditional value of those recipes. They have been cooking the same dishes for decades and may not want to try something new. In contrast, younger generations are more open to trying new things and exploring different flavors and cuisines. That being said, I do like to try new recipes, especially during the holidays. Now, this Nake Carrot Cake is our favorite Easter dessert – and my little family’s tradition – mostly because it just tastes so amazing that we can’t wait to eat it every year!

I’ve noticed the difference in recipe usage between Baby Boomers and younger generations for a while now but didn’t really put two and two together until I realized that I wasn’t the only one that relies on trying new recipes compared to using old recipes that my mom and mother-in-law use. It reflects the changing times and cultural shifts in attitudes toward food. Baby Boomers tend to stick to a few tried-and-true recipes, while younger generations are more willing to experiment with new ones. While there may be several reasons for this difference, it is clear that both approaches have their merits. Whether you prefer to stick to familiar recipes, explore new ones, or a little of both the most important thing is to enjoy the process of cooking and put the importance on family meal time with loved ones.

Happy Cooking and Baking!  If your of the younger generation or older generation that breaks the norm, check out all my family-approved recipes here!

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Founder and Lead Blogger at Akron Ohio Moms
Cindy is the top Akron Blogger with her own take on awesome brands for families, where to vacation for families, a beat on local activities and family fun, a knack for getting moms to share , and a house that is always 2 weeks away from a complete remodel!
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