Before we had children, we used to cook at home a lot and also eat out very frequently. We lived in Barcelona, where 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.
However, once we had children, our free time was much more constrained and we preferred to outsource our diets to the experts and thus eat healthier and better.
In 2020, the COVID crisis accelerated the trend of healthy food meal plan deliveries in Barcelona.
Basically, many kitchens opened up, and they 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, not to mention not being troubled by the COVID restrictions.
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 the various sports I practice 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.
BlueApron, EveryPlate, HomeChef deliver meal kits, with the raw ingredients for one or several recipes. You still need to cook.
Jean Galea says
Thanks for the feedback Paul. Have you tried any of these?
No, they are not available in my country (Romania). I read about them a few years ago, the idea looked interesting, I searched for similar local services, and it is was one at that time, but with very few recipes. I used it a couple of times, it was OK, for me it was nothing special, but I see why others may be interested in this type of service – you get recipes created by professional chefs, you don’t have to shop for the ingredients, you have the right portions etc.
Fun fact: Blue Apron, EveryPlate etc. copied their business model from the German company HelloFresh (usually is the other way, Germans cloning American startups).
Also, out of curiosity I did a search to see what is available in Spain, no HelloFresh but Reddit sent me to foodinthebox.com and wetaca.com.
Jean Galea says
That’s an interesting fun fact, indeed, it’s usually the other way around.
Thanks for sending the links to the Spanish ones, I wasn’t aware of them as they only recently became available in Barcelona, but I’m eager to try them out.