Millennials get a lot of flack for wanting careers that have a greater purpose or goal…and, so sometimes this means that we will work a job for less pay if we whole-heartedly support the organization or feel fulfilled by our work. Some even refuse “to settle” or buy into the notion that you need to have a job until you find one you care about. Unfortunately, this means that we don’t always have our finances in great shape or worse we’re living “paycheck to paycheck”. Among the list of things we can’t afford to spend money on, food is definitely a big one. Food is a basic necessity and as busy young people we often don’t want to take the time or even have the funds to create varied and nutritionally balanced meals.
However, at this point in our lives career building is pretty important, but that doesn’t mean you should deprive yourself of quality food when it can be done on a budget and with your health in mind. Like anything else, it takes practice and a little bit of preparation/research (all of which is more readily available than ever thanks advances in technology). So, instead of making you feel bad about how you’ve had boxed mac n’ cheese 3 nights this week or ate an entire box of your favorite name brand cereal for dinner—I’ll offer some ways to be mindful and step up your meals from little kid staples to Instagram-worthy meals. I’ll also state a few reasons why millennials make food that resembles items found on the kid’s menu.
Reason 1 for Struggle Meals — They often require less prep time.
Transport yourself back to childhood and recall how hungry and impatient you were. Now, take a moment to thank your poor parents and/or caregivers for feeding your sometimes-needy younger self. Because unless you’re crashing with Mom and Dad (which a notable percentage of our generation is and does for some length of time) you don’t have someone who is lovingly preparing food for you. Take this as an opportunity to better yourself and become empowered in the kitchen! You control what goes into your body! For busy young adults, the idea of slaving away in a kitchen sounds pretty crappy after a long day. Sometimes it is just easier to make the mac n’ cheese. So, when you feel that urge to eat the unhealthy or easy options consider finding similar or more health-conscious alternatives. For example, if you’d like to upgrade (culinary skill and nutrition-wise) from boxed mac, give this Mac N’ Cheese with Cauliflower recipe a try! PS: If you prefer broccoli, substitute it! We should all care more about our health and this is an easy way to have a grown-up version of something delicious.
Reason 2 for Struggle Meals — There is often a lower cost and/or fewer ingredients used.
As mentioned above, most millennials aren’t raking in the cash and don’t feel super confident about their financial situation. This could also mean that someone may not have access to a fancy kitchen or specialty utensils (Hint hint great gift idea – a crockpot along with a list of your favorite recipes). The bottom line is food can be expensive and it sometimes takes a while to build a living space. No one at any age or stage of life should feel ashamed of preparing simple and cost-savvy meals. Try experimenting with ingredients you already know, like or feel comfortable using. Host a dinner with friends to pool resources and poll taste testers (and hopefully someone who knows how to cook). There are countless resources for recipes with few ingredients. Here’s two great articles from Buzzfeed about cheap and simple homemade dinner options!
Reason 3 for Struggle Meals — They are often easier to break down and for sensitive stomachs.
Like many kids, I was a picky eater growing up. Luckily for me I don’t have any life-threatening food allergies or dietary restrictions (other than personal taste). However, I have a sensitive stomach where some days even eating my favorite foods can be tricky. Often “kid foods” are designed to be simpler for the body to break down and less likely to lead an upset stomach. When my body is being annoying, my favorite dishes include dry cereals, lighter/non-cream or dairy based soups, rice, mild sauce or seasoning, peanut butter, fruits, smoothies, and vegetables. There is nothing wrong with being kind to your body. You have to find what works best in terms of eating schedule and portion size. So, here is an interesting article about easily digested lunch options.
Reason 4 for Struggle Meals — They do not require one to own or use sophisticated kitchen utensils.
This one goes along the same lines as fewer ingredients: It’s an issue of cost and experience. If you don’t cook a lot, I would assume that you probably have a hard time navigating the kitchen, and don’t use fancy equipment because it’s expensive and scary to use. Unfortunately, unless you have a family member who made it their mission to ensure you learned how to cook or know a chef/friend willing to teach, it can be intimidating and time-consuming to learn to cook fancy adult meals. These two links are good places to start and get ideas of what you may need for most meal prep and cooking.
With all of this being said, there’s no point in feeling like less of an adult for doing what’s best for you; if that’s macaroni and cheese, that’s awesome. But don’t be afraid to check other sensible and simple options out—you might find your new favorite!