Millennials Don’t Cook: A Personal Explanation

A good friend of mine, a Gen X-er, once said that, among many other grievances he has with my generation, we millennials just don’t cook. Because I wasn’t present for that particular conversation, and because I find generational differences fascinating, I thought I’d add my own thoughts here.

The first of which, when I first heard this assertion of his via another friend of mine, also a Gen X-er, was, “Well, duh. I’m never home.” I work as a barista for the job that earns me money and as an actor and Burlseque artist for the jobs I actually care about. When I have the time and money, I take pole dancing or classes to further my art education. Because I have several highly-involved relationships (be they platonic, art partnerships, sexual, or a combination of such) and art communities, I go out of my way to see those friends and/or support their work. In other words, my lifestyle requires me to be out of the house.

An easy counter to this, though, is “You can still cook! You just gotta do it ahead of time.” Which, yes. Actually, as I write this, I’m at work enjoying the leftovers of the “Korean” Beef and Cabbage I made a few days ago, one of the more-than-five-but-less-than-fifteen dishes I know how to make. However, I am able to enjoy this currently because of a few factors:

–I can store and reheat this, as I have access to an oven (not a microwave, an oven) and a fridge at work.

–Like everything else I know how to cook, I’m able to make this dish in bulk, so I can get a few days’ worth of meals out of it.

–Because I have three roommates and a fridge that leaves things to be desired in the realm of space, this dish doesn’t take up too much space, so I can still store raw ingredients in my section.

And if even one of these conditions are not met, things get difficult very quickly.

Because when you’re often not at home and have a subject-to-change schedule (like I do, and like many of my friends who’re also millennials do), cooking, even just basic snack or non-perishable food prep, requires a lot of forethought. Before I go grocery shopping and plan my meals for the week, I have to ask myself:

–When am I going to be home so I can make all of this?

–Am I going to have access to storage and/or a reheating appliance?

–How much money are all these ingredients going to cost?

–Is there going to be food at all the social engagements/rehearsals/shows I’m attending/working at this week? Are my friends gonna want to go out afterwards? Could I save some money by not buying some ingredients so I have money to go out/can plan on eating at that social engagement/rehearsal/show and ensure that I’m actually using all the ingredients I buy and not letting them go bad?

And often times, I either don’t know the answers to some or all of these questions, I don’t have the bandwidth to plan that far ahead, and/or something(s) else comes up that throws a monkey wrench into food plans after I’ve already bought everything.

Add onto this the fact that I don’t make a lot of money; when I am home, I’m either (in this order) sleeping, exercising, working on choreo/costumes for Burlesque acts, doing chores (again, living with three roommates who also have hectic schedules, our place is in a perpetual state of disarray) or, if I’m lucky, just plain sitting on the couch and watching tv because I remember that self-care is a thing.

In other words, I simply don’t have the time or the resources to learn how to cook on my own. It’s not practical. There’s no guarantee I’ll use what I learn, and I will rack myself with guilt for not using that time to work on art or something more productive because capitalism is a thing (or something, I really should read more…lol) and I haven’t yet internalized the fact that I have worth outside of the things I do.

But I am just one person. I can’t speak for my entire generation. This is just my explanation for why I don’t cook (or at least, not as often as others), and me spotting a pattern with those around me. I’d be interested to hear other input from people my age or older.

Do y’all cook? Why or why not?



2 thoughts on “Millennials Don’t Cook: A Personal Explanation

  1. So true!
    I find that the process of cooking, when I actually commit to it — & having ingredients + time + energy + did the dishes/cleaned the counter is a wild convergence that actually takes place — makes me feel really good. The likelihood of that convergence isn’t impossible. But most of the time it’s not a thing. It WOULD be if I didn’t spend all my time seeing art I care about. But turns out that making judgey Gen-Xers happy takes lower priority than getting to see all the stuff I do care about. I’m ok with that.


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