Before the arrival of our son, we used to cook at home a lot and also eat out very frequently. In Barcelona, you can find lots of great options for lunch since most restaurants have a menu del dia, which means a set menu for a fixed price that is usually excellent value for money.
Given that we both worked from home, it was a nice break from work to go out and have a nice lunch somewhere before getting back to work.
Around the last year or so, a new trend seems to have arrived in Barcelona. The trend consists of kitchens instead of restaurants. So the kitchens would cook dishes and concentrate on selling them via delivery apps or by customers picking up their orders at the kitchen. This minimizes the costs of having tables and staff serving those tables.
As a customer, I love the idea. It’s a trend that has been picking up steam in the United States as well. What we’re seeing is essentially the nascent era of cooking as a service. In much the same way as we have outsourced a lot of our daily chores to specialized services, cooking seems to be the next chore that is going to be outsourced in developed nations.
I think cooking will, by 2040, be a niche activity like e.g. gardening or sewing, not something which one would reasonably expect from substantially every household.
It's getting squeezed by a combination of long-running social changes, cultural norms, and…
— Patrick McKenzie (@patio11) May 5, 2019
Cooking has traditionally been the role of the woman, and it takes up quite a lot of time to shop for the ingredients, cook and then clean up after. If you have a family with a few kids, it takes even more time. If you calculate it, it could easily take 4-5 hours a day once you factor in everything. Since more women are heading back to the workplace, it makes sense for them to outsource this chore.
In my opinion, leaving the cooking to a specialized chef will also most likely result in you eating a healthier and more varied diet. A kitchen with a good chef will be churning out many different dishes, while if you cook at home you will most likely eventually stick to a small variety of tried and tested dishes. Unfortunately, we are also living in a period in history where food has become very processed, and good raw materials are not easy to come by. A chef who buys raw material in bulk has the expertise of being able to distinguish between poor and great quality fish, poultry etc, and he can even buy it at a cheaper price due to his contacts and the amounts he is buying.
Even without calculating the monetary value of time spent on cooking, food is easily the biggest monthly expense for my family after rental payments. Since switching to purchasing most of our food from one of the kitchens, our costs have remained equal, but we have gained a lot of extra time and eat way better since we have a professional chef with years of experience cooking for us.
Here are some reasons for giving up cooking your own food:
- Gaining extra time
- Spending more time with your partner and kids
- Letting the pros do the work
- Better control your portions
- Protecting yourself from injuries (burns, cuts etc)
- Less cleaning up
- No grocery shopping
Another benefit for me specifically as I pursue athletic excellence for padel is that I can have my dietician coordinate with my fitness coach and chef to make sure I am getting exactly the right fuel for my workouts and upcoming tournaments. If I had to do this myself I would definitely get it wrong and it would be too time-consuming.
Cooking at home on occasion is of course still a nice idea, especially when it involves all family members and serves as a relationship-building activity. It’s also great to go out for a nice meal at a restaurant every once in a while.
Here are some related services in the US and Canada. I hope to see more of them opening up in Europe.
In Spain, we have the following healthy food delivery services available in major cities so far:
There also some kitchens focused on healthy cuisine in Barcelona, which I’ve listed in another post.
What are your thoughts on the subject?