Millennials and cooking. It doesn’t feel like a natural pairing.
Can you cook? Maybe some of the older millennials can, but a lot of us seem to have a serious lack of cooking ability. The best we can do is throw some stir-fry in a pan and call it a day.
To even get some cooking guidance, us millennials usually head straight to YouTube to watch the latest recipe tutorial. Cooking by heart has become a dying art. I also love a good rhyme…
This general lack of cooking knowledge usual makes us end up either eating some unhealthy processed slog or racing to the nearest fast-casual eatery. Chipotle, anyone?
A 2015 Morgan Stanley study found that 53% of millennials say they eat at restaurants at least once a week, compared to 43% of Gen X-er’s or Baby Boomers.
Maybe it’s because it feels more convenient, maybe it’s because Chipotle is the ultimate love, or maybe it’s just to get that perfect flat lay Instagram photo. Whatever it is, a lot of millennials need to learn how to cook.
A lot of people think cooking and is a time-consuming process that involves a lot of tedious hard work. They think eating healthy on a budget is impossible. As with many things, learning to cook takes time and experimentation. While it can take some time to learn, it pays off in the long run.
The benefits: you feel less sluggish, better mood, better energy, and you don’t have to agonize over constantly figuring out what to eat for lunch or dinner.
“But, I don’t have time!”
“It’s too much work!”
I hear you, learning to cook isn’t some quick thing that magically happens within a few days. You probably won’t achieve Rachel Ray level skill right off the bat. Doing a few small things to start can help greatly.
Let’s go through some things to do to learn how to cook. So you can take your cooking skill level from kitchen clueless to organized prep pro.
Get Savvy With Grocery Shopping
Get a cash back app. Download a cash back app such as Ibotta, which gives you cash back for in-store and mobile purchases. Ibotta allows you to easily save money on groceries every week, without the need to clip coupons.
How it works is you browse the app and find offers before you shop. Once you go shopping, you buy the products you selected and redeem your offers by taking a photo of your receipt. Ibotta matches the items you bought to the offers you selected and gives you cash back.
Once you reach $20 in your Ibotta account, you withdraw your cash and either send it to your Paypal or purchase a gift card through the app.
Make a list. Always be armed with a list when grocery shopping. It allows you to stay focused on what you need and limit temptations to buy extras.
Shop at a low-cost grocery store. If you have an Aldi in your area, try shopping there for some or all of your groceries. Lots of people have mentioned the lower cost products Aldi has compared to other stores.
If you’re shopping at Target, sign up for the Target Red Card, which allows you to get 5% off purchases.
Buy more whole, unprocessed foods.
This includes proteins (ground beef, frozen chicken breast, tuna cans, cottage cheese, eggs, milk, whey)
carbs (pasta, rice, oats, potatoes, beans, apples, raisins, broccoli, spinach)
& fats (olive oil, real butter, mixed nuts).
Healthy eating on a budget. Greatist has a list of 44 healthy foods you can buy for under $1 each.
Start Meal Planning
You don’t have to be a meal planning ninja who spends all day Sunday in the kitchen whipping up 21 meals for the week. Talk about going 0 to 60 mph.
Start out by arming yourself with some knowledge about the ways to meal plan and foods to eat. This could include accounts to follow on social media, meal planning YouTube videos, and meal planning websites. Some of my favorite websites right now are Budget Bytes and The Minimalist Baker.
Budget Bytes offers tons of budget-friendly recipes and simple meal plans.
The Minimalist Baker offers a lot of meat-free recipes, which let’s be honest, is great since buying a lot of meat can end up being really expensive. Do some of the recipes even if you aren’t a vegetarian.
Great resources to meal plan:
MealPrepPro (paid, $5.99/month): This app lets you input the number of calories you need per day and gives you a big visual list of different meals you can prepare. Each meal includes the ingredients you need and how to prepare it. You can mix and match the different meals to create a full week long meal plan for you. Once you’ve done that, you can click to add all the required ingredients to be imported into your shopping list, which you can use when you go to the grocery store.
The app includes a color-coded graph that shows you what days you are preparing food and when you are reheating and eating. The prep days differ depending on how you arrange and choose which meals go into your weekly meal plan.
$5 Meal Plan (paid, $5/month): $5 Meal Plan is a weekly meal plan service focusing on meals that can be made for around $2 per serving or less. The meal plans are sent out weekly and you pay $5 per month (after a 14-day free trial). Each menu includes a shopping list of things you’ll need.
There are different symbols on each meal on the menu. The symbols indicate which items take 20 minutes to prep, which are freezer friendly, which can be made in a slow cooker, or in a pan. You can also prep and cook many of the meals on the weekend so you can reheat and eat for when you’re busy and tired on weeknights. For an additional $8 a month, you can get specialty menus for those on a vegetarian diet.
Invest in a Cookbook
Cookbooks can be a good go-to source to have when it comes to meal planning and learning to cook. You don’t always want to tap and touching your phone to look at the recipe instructions while you cook.
It may seem weird to get one nowadays since you can just easily Google a recipe. However, there is something to said for having a printed book that gives more than just the recipe. More work, effort, and description usually go into a cookbook. They usually go more into the food culture and way of life of different recipes, which can be great to read.
Some popular ones to consider:
Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day
Budget Bytes: 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes
Have Go-To Meals
These are the meals you can make whenever you come home exhausted, without anything prepared, and with a strong urge for getting pricey take out.
Have a list of about five simple go-to meals you can whip up for when you think of what to eat. Meal planning takes time to get into a rhythm with. These meals can be lifesavers to your budget and help you combat excessively eating out.
Think about healthy budget-friendly things like stuff with chicken breast, rice, beans, tortillas, and pasta.
Compile Your Resources
Some nice notepads and books can go a long way in helping make the process less dull and more fun. Stock up on some notepads, ebooks, and food containers so you so your cooking adventures can run consistent and organized.
Are you a millennial? How would you rank your cooking skills?