The trend of not cooking has been slowly growing, but I realized very recently just how popular it’s become. Ironically, I think I’ve been too busy preparing three-course dinners every night even to notice.
What’s behind the decline in satisfying the most basic of human needs?
I first noticed a change at the original source – the grocery store, where I’m a regular every week. The long lines at the register are a thing of the past unless a major holiday is approaching. I used to skim through an entire magazine or, more recently, simultaneously text three different friends while waiting. Not anymore.
But the last time I checked, eating was still a fad! So, where has everyone gone?
They are probably not in their driveways unloading their car of $310 worth of groceries at 6:00 p.m. on a Thursday? (I can’t bear weekend food shopping!). Most people are probably sitting down to their prepared dinner, the operative word here being prepared. But who was the preparer? Where did the food come from?
And yes, take-out as a last-minute resort is still a popular alternative to cooking, but that’s not always the case. Certainly, many home deliveries are being made, but it’s just not pizza or Chinese food anymore. It’s weekly meal kits, including all ingredients neatly proportioned, with even neater written directions for cooking. No muss, no fuss!
My daughter and her husband have been two such satisfied customers of this type of weekly and very reliable delivery service. So weekly dinners are covered, and any other items, like fresh produce or deli meats, are added to a shopping list weekly by scanning bar codes with cell phones, all to be picked up at the curbside of their local grocery store. It works for them for now with a toddler and a 3-month-old baby.
In addition to this new trend is purchasing cooked and prepared meals at a deli or directly from a supermarket.
Numerous times I’m waiting in line ordering deli cold cuts for the week, while many customers choose to pick up their cooked chicken cutlets, meatballs, soups, and pasta salads for dinner.
And then, of course, the third alternative is quickly and efficiently satisfying everyone’s hunger by grabbing a quick bite at the local pizzeria or diner on the way home from work, dance class, baseball game, etc. Plus, there’s the added convenience of bringing home food for the family member who is already in for the night but is still starving.
Another reason for not cooking is that one ingredient is always missing, especially after I’ve come up with a decent Tuesday night meal, like chicken cutlets. Sometimes I have plenty of everything for breading, minus the chicken breast, and by the time I run out “real quick” to the supermarket and start preparing the cutlets, it’s almost Wednesday morning! And not to mention the pile-up of dirty dishes and utensils that will not be washed and put away by morning, courtesy of the domestic fairy godmother! So scrap Plan A, and move on to Plan B – call for Chinese food or use Uber Eats.
This and other failed attempts at cooking, especially on a weeknight, all amount to the same thing, no time and no energy, so no hot cooked meal…AGAIN.
But still, I believe the art of cooking hasn’t altogether disappeared but rather ironically just been placed on the “back burner.” Our priorities, daily routines, and obligations as parents have evolved so much and so fast in recent years that the ways to nourish and feed our families had to change too. So, if occasionally, you find yourself in the kitchen cooking or baking, consider fostering the “art” of teaching your kids a thing or two, and for certain that’s one recipe they’ll never forget!