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COLUMN | GUESS AGAIN, GRANDPA: Millennials eat out all the time, and it’s making us broke

Why we should cook our meals at home more often

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Image Credits: Momo Lin

If you asked me what I do when I hang out with friends, I would probably tell you that I love to go out to eat. Eating out has become the new normal. Nothing in the fridge? Let’s do take-out. Didn’t pack lunch? Let’s buy food on campus. Going on a date? Let’s go out to some restaurant and class it up in a suit or dress.

Going to a restaurant is a pretty normal thing to do, with the only potential surprise being the bill at the end. But since wages are much higher than they were 40 years ago, it’s no wonder the price of everything is going up alongside our purchasing power, making eating out so much more enticing.

My grandpa pointed this out to me when I announced that I was not going to be present at a family dinner yet again. I had made plans to see a friend, and going to dinner seemed like a logical thing to do. Of course, I wasn’t at home for dinner most nights out of that week, and I had forgotten to make lunch as well, meaning I would have to buy lunch while at school.

“You’re wasting a lot of money on food,” he told me bluntly. “It’s also incredibly unhealthy for you.”

At this point I wanted to let him know that I was going to see a vegetarian friend and that would we be having a strictly veggie dinner, but I let that slide.

A 2013 survey by The Food Institute found that millennial homes spend 10.6 percent more on food than Baby Boomer homes when eating out. This extra chunk of money not only illuminates our increased spending, but highlights some very key issues that may indicate that our grandparents had it right all along.

All those tasty family recipes might go up in smoke if millennials don’t know how to fry an egg.

More than likely, you have come across reports that eating out can lead to obesity and other health problems due to our constant ‘on the go’ lifestyle. Where cooking gives you a clear sense of exactly what is going into your food, we have no idea how much salt, sugar, and fat go into restaurant dishes. All of this makes the food we eat extra delicious and incredibly easy for us to consume, resulting in increased calorie intake of nearly 20 percent since the 1980’s, according to a study by Dr. Stephan Guyenet in 2012.

But aside from eating out more, the fact is that millennials have seemingly less culinary knowledge than their grandparents do. All those tasty family recipes might go up in smoke if millennials don’t know how to fry an egg. Despite the rise in popularity of Gordon Ramsay cooking shows, cooking is more of a hobby than a necessity, with our cooking repertoire hovering around only seven dishes.

The relationship between these two points creates a negative feedback loop. If we don’t have the desire to learn how to cook, at the end of the day we will opt for the easy way out and pay $15 for something decent. Our grandparents only ate out on extra special occasions, and saved a lot of money doing so. They also wasted less, learned more about sustaining a household, and potentially saved themselves from early onsets of diabetes or chronic obesity.

So the next time your grandpa asks if you want to join him in the kitchen, say yes and try your hand at cooking.