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How to Adult: Cooking up meal prep

The kitchen ladies work hard preparing the day’s lunch options. Photo by Martin Foster

Students go through 13 years of the US school system, only for many to come out the other side unprepared to actually function as an adult in society. The Current created this series to fill in the gaps.

When entering into the real world, there are so many things that you have to worry about. Of course, there are your standard worries: spending money, rent, taxes. However, not enough emerging adults take food and cooking for yourself into account. According to a study done by Bankrate in 2017, 54% of millennials eat out at least three times a week.

Stated by a 2014 Sobeys Inc. study, this is because of the lack of confidence in the kitchen. It was reported that 69% of adults aged 18-25 did not feel confident in their cooking ability.

Why is that? Many believe that this decline in ability to cook is because of many students’ lack of interest in home economics. The course has been removed from many schools, with a reduced number in Home Ec. class enrollment of 40% within the past decade, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Another theory presented says that the decline in cooking correlates with the decline in stay-at-home parents. That is, if you don’t have a stay-at-home parent to teach you how to cook, you won’t learn yourself. Whether that or any theory, really is true, the issue of many not knowing how to cook still stands.

Not being comfortable in the kitchen leads to more money being spent on food that is both bad for your budget and bad for your health. You can combat this by cooking your own healthy food. Cooking for yourself doesn’t need to be, and isn’t necessarily, expensive! According to a study done by Wellio, you spend 5 times as much money on eating out than you do when you cook your own food, and three times as much when using a meal prep service like Blue Apron.

First off, you need to know how to grocery shop when wanting to cook for yourself.

The time in which you shop for groceries is seen by many as important. If you dislike crowds, then don’t shop in the middle of the day. Grocery shopping is best done in the early morning or in the late evening to avoid others. To get the best produce, shop in the early morning. If you don’t like both early morning and five-o’clock traffic, then you should shop late at night.

The produce itself is also another very important thing to look out for. Of course, there are thousands of tips we could cover, but a few basic ones can get you ready to shop. Coupon hunting and looking at in-store deals are two very good ways to save your hard earned cash. In-store deals get even better when you sign up for the store’s free rewards programs.

With the actual product you’re buying, it’s important to buy either ripe or almost ripe foods if you’re not going to use them the day of. If you are using them the day of, don’t be afraid of bruises! Bruises on fruit and vegetables usually have no impact on the actual flavor of the produce, so you’ll have no idea that it’s bruised.

Food in hand, you arrive home with no idea on how to actually cook.

It may all be overwhelming at first, but that’s why you have to start off simple. Don’t expect to be able to cook beef wellington when you can’t make macaroni and cheese. First, try cooking simple dishes like chicken noodle soup or spaghetti and meatballs. Your meals don’t have to be complex dishes that came out of the minds of great chefs to still taste good.

The internet is your best friend when it comes to simple recipes. You can find millions of delicious and cost-effective dishes with just a few keystrokes. There are recipes for low budget dishes, simple comfort food, or even food you can eat all week. Many have videos accompanying them, for those who have no idea on how to fold egg whites into pancake batter or for those who aren’t sure how to whisk with a fork.

In the event you do get stuck, there is no shame in asking your parents or others for help while you still can. You shouldn’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on simple cooking classes when you have a loving family member or a close friend who would gladly teach you how to cook. If you ask others, you could also potentially get new family recipes, which is a definite added bonus!

Although it may be a boring or overwhelming task to some, having the ability to cook and effectively grocery shop is incredibly essential after leaving the nest. Cooking has been an essential part of human culture for eons, and it’s easier than ever in the modern era. Whether you are a senior about to go off to college or a freshman, try learning a few recipes in your free time! It will do nothing but help later in life.

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How to Adult: Cooking up meal prep