So says the Wall Street Journal. Their premise is based on what research shows various age groups are spending on food prepared outside of the home. Millenials, the age group most inclined to eat outside of the home, spend $202 a month these days compared to the $159 they spent in 2015. Spending in other age groups is up as well, most notably us empty-nester/baby-boomers. I don’t think it is quite fair to say that cooking is a lost art – too many people derive pleasure from preparing a meal – but busy people often just don’t have the time.
People are buying already prepared food … a lot. Just go to your local Whole Foods and see how many people are grouped around the steam table and salad bar. For the two-career families, or single parents I can see how an instant meal would have its appeal. I know a busy professional woman, who NEVER cooks at home. True, she makes enough money to afford the high prices at the most expensive stores but even so, is the food that good? Using my local Whole Foods as an example, I don’t see enough room and equipment to prepare all of the food you find in their serving area. That leads me to believe that that quinoa and eggplant gratin is prepared in mass quantities somewhere, packaged in five-gallon bags and shipped to the local stores. What’s in it? How much sugar, sodium, fat? Is it overcooked? Probably. Does it taste good? Well, that’s a relative thing isn’t it?
Then there’s those frozen entrees in the grocer’s freezer section, or occupying freezer cabinets the length of a football field at Costco, or Winco. What do you suppose is in that stuff? Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes prepare Stouffer’s Lasagna or the like, especially if I’m bacheloring it. But no way can it be fresh, nutritious, and local – a lot of carbon went into the atmosphere so that I could have my dinner.
My answer for the busy household is to cut down on the scale of meals, especially the evening meal. One quick dish and a vegetable or salad on the side should do it. Many of the recent articles in my web site feature preparations like that. I love to dive into a project on the weekends but during the week, what with people coming and going, I just don’t want to make a big, complex meal. But in less time than it takes to heat a frozen brick of lasagna you can bake chicken cutlets, with roasted potatoes and peppers, and sweet and sour green beans. See the recipe here.