For those who regularly whip up a meal and eat dinner at home, cooking out of a meal kit like those from Plated or Blue Apron sounds ridiculous. But in spite of the eye-rolling these kits have induced, the New York Times reports that they’re catching on with the public:
“In the span of a few short years, more than 100 companies have jumped into the meal kit game. Millions of cardboard boxes arrive on urban and rural doorsteps every month, holding everything one needs to cook dinner, down to the rice wine vinegar and panko.
Ingredients are packaged in exact proportions, ready to be chopped or sautéed according to well-illustrated recipe cards. In less than an hour, even a mediocre cook with salt, pepper and cooking oil can produce an Instagram-worthy meal.”
In other words, the popularity of meal kits is driven not only by American’s love of convenience, but also by the need to keep up appearances and look like today’s trendy organic gourmet chefs.
But the New York Times hints that there is one other reason behind the popularity of these box meal kits, namely, a longing to accomplish something meaningful:
“‘There is a feeling of a lack of accomplishment, especially among millennials who feel like it’s a solid effort just to get frozen ravioli cooked and a bagged salad together,’ said Melissa Abbott of the Hartman Group, which researches eating patterns. ‘They say these meal kits are teaching them how to cook so they can participate in the conversation and feel empowered.’”
By and large, the millennial generation has been raised in an environment where, instead of coming home from school to a mom baking cookies and beginning dinner preparations, they came home to burritos pulled from the freezer, or a Hot Pocket on the way to soccer practice. Instead of having parents who taught them how to set the table, wash the dishes, or shop for groceries, the millennials have grown up “too busy” to learn the responsibilities which household chores teach.
We’ve made the fast-lane lifestyle work for a generation now. But in the process of making it “work” have we failed to pass on essential life skills that every individual can benefit from? Do we need to place a higher priority on teaching the up-and-coming generation the basics of cooking, cleaning, and other fundamental tasks?
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Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.