Many people may say that food others make for them tastes better. There's the thrill of being cooked for, cared for. Also, in this age of online and mobile food ordering companies, some get a thrill of anticipation from knowing dinner is ready for them to pickup or on its way via delivery, and another satisfaction when they open the containers and see and smell their meal. And just maybe, we humans are lazy and like that others do the work?
A recent study says this isn't true. A team of European researchers tested the effects of food preparation on liking: does self-prepared food truly taste better? Their results say yes, specifically when it comes to healthy food.
The phenomenon is called the "IKEA effect," the idea being we enjoy things more when we've made them ourselves. The difference, however, comes in when talking about the preparation of unhealthy food. The IKEA effect explains people tend to enjoy the furniture they've assembled even if the job they did is shoddy. In food preparation, results were not impacted as much by the quality of the food prepared but the study found that self-made meals high in fats and sugars tend to be enjoyed less.
The study, by Simone Dohle of the University of Cologne, and Sina Rall and Michael Siegrist of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, was divided into two parts. One hundred and twenty women participated in the experiment, most were German students. Half of the participants tasted a low-calorie smoothie made from raspberries, milk and sugar, while the other half tasted a high-calorie milkshake of chocolate ice cream, milk and cream. In both cases, some were given a prepared drink while the others were asked to mix the ingredients themselves.
With the low-calorie smoothie, those who mixed it themselves rated it higher on a scale of "do not like at all" to "like very much" compared to those who drank the prepared smoothie. (The results were particularly strong in participants who stated they were on a diet.) In contrast, those who mixed their own high-calorie milkshake expressed more discontent, something researchers believe is due to participants being aware of how unhealthy ingredients went into the shake.
If you are reading this, chances are you already prepare much of the food you and your family eat. Pat yourself on the back and head into the kitchen, it's almost dinnertime. And when you need recipe inspiration or technique advice, we're here to help.