Perhaps my resistance to learn came from the gender roles I saw at home. Perhaps it was the media I consumed or discussions with friends and peers. Perhaps it was just my personality, skillset, and interests. Likely it was a combination of all three.
I can say one thing for sure. It was a mistake.
This year, at 28, I’ve finally ventured into cooking. And it has been incredible in so many ways.
I’ll share why, but I first want to explain why I’m primarily focusing this article towards men.
The Gender Gap
Now that I’ve started cooking, I know that if I ever have a son, teaching him to cook will be a high priority for me.
The same would be true if I ever have a daughter. After all, I now see cooking as an essential life skill, regardless of gender.
But let’s also face facts. The reality of who cooks, like many aspects of our society, is not equal or fair when it comes to gender.
According to a 2015 study cited by the Washington Post (source), only 43% of American men cook. That compares to 70% of American women that cook.
This Washington Post article chose to focus their story on the growth in men’s cooking - from 38% in 1995 to 43% in 2015. That is indeed something to celebrate. But in my opinion, they missed the real headline behind these statistics.
There’s still an enormous cooking gender gap! And in a time where men and women are increasingly both working, that just doesn’t make sense.
Now I’m not here just to complain about the gender discrepancy. I’m here to try and inspire some action!
If I can inspire even one person to start cooking - this article will be a success. That would be true regardless of that person’s gender. But given the data, most non-cookers are men. So by inspiring new cooks - we’re also closing that cooking gender gap.
I’m a big believer that if I say something “should” happen, I need to provide sound supporting arguments. So, do I have good reasons for saying “All Men Should Learn to Cook?”
You bet I do!
Before we jump into them, just know that if you’re a non-cooker, I’m not trying to shame you or come down on you from my “high horse.” After all, last year, I myself was a non-cooker!
It’s just that after experiencing the benefits below, and so many others, I can’t help but try to convince you to make cooking a priority!
Reason #1: Your Attractiveness
Let’s start with the most fun reason.
Learning to cook makes you more attractive.
Stick with me here, because this applies to you regardless of your relationship status, gender, or sexual orientation.
If you’re single and in the dating market, cooking unequivocally makes you more appealing.
It’s also just an intuitive fact. Wouldn’t you be more interested in a person who can cook than one who can’t, all other things equal? Of course you would! Who doesn't like eating yummy food?
If you’re single but not interested in romance right now, this still applies to you. Everyone needs friends! And one of the best ways to solidify friendships is to have them over for a home cooked meal.
If you’re in a relationship, this applies to you too! Cooking can help strengthen your partnership and romance.
I’ll provide a personal example.
Stephanie, my wife, has historically done almost all the cooking in our eight-year relationship. As I’ve ventured into cooking, I’ve gained more of an appreciation for the hard work she puts into it. And she’s over the moon when I cook. Overall, it’s resulted in making our partnership even happier, stronger, and more equal.
My example is certainly not an isolated incident. From discussions with female friends in long-term relationships, cooking is one of the most attractive things their partner can do!
A common counter-argument here is that one partner should fully specialize in the household’s cooking.
For example, Partner A cooks, Partner B does the dishes. This type of specialization has its merits. But in a relationship, it can be problematic. Here’s why:
Reason #2: Your Budget
You didn’t think we’d go through an entire Savings Academy article without talking about money, did you?
Learning to cook will help you pay down debt, build savings, and start to earn passive income!
Let me give you a personal example. When I graduated college and started my career, I ate out a lot. I bought lunch at work, had chipotle for dinner, and ate out with friends on the weekend. I alone sometimes spent over $400 per month on dining out.
Now that I’ve started cooking, that’s changed entirely. In the last three months, Stephanie and I have averaged $136 per month combined on dining out. That includes multiple nice meals out with family and friends.
Does a $200 per month difference really matter? It sure does!
If you use that money to pay down debt or invest, it will compound enormously. Assuming a 7% return, that’s $33K over ten years or $479K over forty years!
Yep, you can get half a million extra dollars over your lifetime just by learning to cook!
And these are conservative assumptions for most millennial professionals. Many of my clients started out spending over $700 per month on dining out and we got that down to under $200 per month - all while maintaining a thriving social and culinary life!
You can do it to!
tl;dr: Learn to cook. Get that $$$.
Reason #3: Your health
Learning to cook is one of the best things you can do for your long-term health. And what’s more important than health?
Restaurants tend to add excess salt, sugar, and other unhealthy ingredients to their dishes because their #1 goal is to have you enjoy the food and come back again. The restaurant chef doesn’t care as much as you do about the effects on your long-term health. They want good reviews and happy customers!
As a real-life comparison, when I eat out at Chipotle, one of my absolute favorite restaurants, my Veggie Bowl order includes 1,600 mg of sodium. That’s 70% of the recommended sodium intake in one meal! When I make my own veggie bowls at home, I choose lower-sodium ingredients, but still make a delicious meal!
Gentlemen, this advice especially applies to you! According to a Harvard Medical School article, diet is a contributing factor to why we men tend to die earlier than women. For example, the article cites that men have a 50% higher rate of death from heart disease than women - and we all know diet is a huge factor in preventing heart disease. Starting to cook instead of eating out all the time could literally save your life!
tl;dr: Cook to stay healthy and alive!
Those are my major arguments for learning to cook, but there are so many more!
What other reasons can you think of? And do you believe that closing the “cooking gender gap” is important? Let us know in the comments!
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