Most evenings you can find me in the kitchen cooking dinner. My neighbor, a mother of three grown daughters, marveled over this since she doesn’t cook every night now and certainly didn’t when her girls were younger.
But I don’t find this odd. When I was growing up, most evenings my mom cooked. In the summer, my dad might grill but my mom was still in the kitchen making the salad or side dishes. To me, it is just natural to cook dinner rather than eat out.
Now, I am a stay-at-home mom, so I am sure there are people out there who think that is the only reason I have the time to cook at home. But even when I worked, I cooked daily.
But looking at reports, I am certainly not the norm. Only a third of Americans cook at home daily. Fifty percent say they cook at home between three and six days a week. And then there are the Millennials (those age 19 to 35) who cook only once or twice a week – if at all.
These numbers come as a shock to me. I hadn’t realized that cooking at home was that odd. Now, I do know several parents who have their kids in every activity under the sun, so they get home late or need to eat on the run. These families do eat out more or pick up convenience food from the grocery store.
And there are those that work who juggle their commute with family duties or perhaps even a second job. It does take time to plan, shop, prepare, cook and clean up. So, time is definitely a factor for many families that it is no wonder many don’t cook.
And nowadays it is easier than ever not to cook. There are restaurants, fast-food places, places that deliver to your door, meal subscription kits and even pre-made meals you can pick up at the grocery store.
But with some planning, I don’t find cooking at home to be that much of a chore. There are plenty of cookbooks out there with quick meals and with insta-pots or slow cookers, the number of meals you can quickly get on the table are plentiful.
Some people even spend part of their weekend prepping meals for the week or even batch cooking meals. My brother, who lives alone, does batch cooking. He makes large meals and then stores individual servings in his freezer. He can enjoy a home cooked meal by simply popping one in the microwave.
The closest I come to planning ahead is I write out a 2-week menu of meals. We don’t necessarily have them on the days I write them down, but it does make grocery shopping easier. It allows me to ensure that I have the ingredients for those meals and lets me plan for super quick meals when I know there is a tight evening schedule.
And there are so many benefits to cooking and eating at home. It is healthier. It is cheaper. And research shows that those who eat at home regularly tend to be happier. I’m not sure that last one is true but the savings and the family time make it worth it for me.