5 Reasons Every Millennial Should Learn to Cook

Call it a phase, call it laziness, call it a way to socialize. Whatever the reason, millennials sure do love eating out. While most Americans are tempted by the lure of restaurants and food trucks, young adults seem to be particularly interested in finding their meals anywhere but their own kitchens. MarketWatch reported that the Food Institute found millennials ate out 10.6% more than baby boomers.

Indulging in a little fast food or going out for a special evening on the town can be great from time to time, but there are plenty of reasons to love staying in. Whether you’re most concerned with cost or entertainment value, learning to cook at home is something we think every young person should learn to do. Here are five reasons why.

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1. Cooking at home is less expensive

Every once and a while, a blow-the-bank dinner is absolutely in order. A birthday, anniversary, or crummy week are all great excuses to go to a super chic restaurant to get some special treatment. But what about those meals at less expensive places? Grabbing a few beers or glasses of wine with some appetizers might not seem like much until you consider that each beverage will likely run you at least $7, and those apps are more like $12. That casual meal can suddenly climb past $30.

Most people probably veer toward food that’s in the middle-price range, and the difference between making it in your own kitchen and buying it elsewhere is pretty hard to ignore. The Boston Globe reported that dining at Outback Steakhouse is more than twice as expensive per person than preparing the exact same meal at home.

There’s always fast food, which is certainly much less expensive, but it still leaves a dent in your wallet when it becomes an everyday habit. According to The Huffington Post, making food from $40 worth of groceries can take care of meals for an entire week. Good luck trying to keep a diet of egg sandwiches and sesame chicken that cheap.

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2. Food prepared at home is healthier

There’s no denying that healthier food options are constantly popping up at restaurants. Even McDonald’s has lighter options, but most of us don’t go to the golden arches to get a salad. Fast food meals contain an average of 836 calories, according to a study reported on by Health Day. That might not sound terribly bad, but the same study also indicated that most adults underestimated how much they ate by close to 200 calories.

That doesn’t mean you have to subsist on lettuce and grapefruit, though. Cooking Light features plenty of recipes that are big on flavor while still managing to be easy on your waistline.

And for those who want a little bit more substance, cooking at home is a great way to monitor exactly what goes into your food; there aren’t any added fats, sugars, or preservatives hiding in something made in your own kitchen. Researcher Julia A. Wolfson said in a press release from John Hopkins Bloomburg School of Public Health, “When people cook most of their meals at home, they consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat than those who cook less or not at all — even if they are not trying to lose weight.” The research also found that these people also tended to eat less when they did eat out.

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3. It (can be) faster

It’s pretty hard to argue with the convenience of grabbing a quick meal during a busy day, but even takeout can eat up time. ABC found that the time spent making dinner isn’t much more than going out to pick up something to eat. It also means skipping the craziness of finding a parking spot.

But how can you make sure you don’t end up wasting a bunch of time when you’re new to cooking? Mark Bittman spoke to Reader’s Digest about practical ways to make the cooking process go faster, and his tips are just as good for veterans as they are for beginners. Ideas include everything from eating certain veggies raw to making one giant sandwich and then portioning it afterwards.

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4. Cooking is fun

Cooking can be intimidating, especially if you watch shows like Hell’s Kitchen. There aren’t any chefs to answer to at your house, though. If you make a mistake, no one’s going to yell at you or throw pots and pans at your head.

It might take a little bit of time to get the hang of things, but the act of cooking can be just as much fun as any other hobby. That’s especially true when you learn to flambé. The L.A. Times’ Noelle Carter hosted a series of cooking videos demonstrating some of the best kitchen techniques to take you from pathetic to pro. “Cooking is fun — at least, it should be,” she says in the intro.

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5. It’s an excuse to party

Since heading out can seem like the norm for dinner, it might start to seem ho-hum. It’s always fun to meet up with friends at a new hot spot, but those places are often so packed that it’s impossible to get a table for more than four people. But there’s no reason to snub the rest of your friends if you invite them over to your place. You can invite over as many people as you’d like, and you’ll actually be able to hear each other without having to scream over the sound of hundreds of other diners.

The best part? Hosting dinner parties offers an unlimited number of opportunities to celebrate. That can include gatherings to toast a new job, ones themed around a favorite TV show, or get-togethers crafted around a favorite food. Taco party, anyone?

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