It feels like every day some outlet proclaims millennials are killing a new industry. Members of the age group are supposedly to blame for the demise of beer, movies, and sex, among other things. Whether or not those born between 1981 and 1996 are *actually* responsible for the demise of certain industries remains a point of speculation, but it would appear there is a distinct skill many millennials lack: cooking. Apparently, it's so bad that millennials are the worst cooks of any generation — and we're more than willing to cop to it, too.
Porch.com, an online resource for connecting homeowners with contractors, conducted a survey to investigate the culinary abilities of millennials compared to older generations. Researchers asked 750 people of all ages to self-report their culinary abilities. The results found that, while most respondents rated their cooking abilities as "good," younger respondents reported cooking less frequently and felt their skills were lacking overall. Five percent of millennials qualified their cooking abilities as “very good," compared to almost 12.5 percent by their Baby Boomer counterparts.
While asking people to rate their cooking skills using a measure such as "good" seems pretty subjective on the surface, the study did not end there; it is actually pretty in-depth. Researchers asked the pool of 750 people how prepared they feel to cook 30 different meals — ranging in difficulty from plain white rice to apple pie from scratch. Baby Boomers were far and away the most equipped, with the highest percentage of participants feeling prepared to cook 26 of 30 meals. Millennials, on the other hand, did not feel most prepared to cook any of the meals in question (and only moderately prepared to prepare pre-made cookie dough).
With these results in mind, researchers then wanted to investigate millennials' knowledge of food overall. Researchers created a so-called cooking IQ test that inquired about specific foods, measurements, and the like, to explore how knowledge varied among different groups of people. Some of the questions involved identifying central ingredients in a recipe (i.e. identifying which herb is used to make pesto). Baby Boomers scored roughly 10 percent higher on the cooking quiz than millennials did (whose collective score came in last at 51.7 percent). But, Gen Xers outscored Baby Boomers in identifying different foods; while Baby Boomers only answered with forty nine percent accuracy, Gen Xers were able to identify more than half of the foods presented.
The last component of the study involved knowledge about food preparation. The first part involved identifying common cooking tools. Respondents were asked to name a hand blender, butter knife, garlic press, and salad spinner when presented with an image of the item. This was followed by questions about frequent kitchen conversions (such as the number of cups that make up a gallon). In both tests, the expertise of Baby Boomers was once again hard to compete with. Though it should be noted Gen Xers were most successful in identifying more modern kitchen tools.
Overall this study indicates millennials struggle with nearly ALL kitchen knowledge (not just cooking) compared to older age groups — but hey! At least we're all being honest with ourselves. (And, of course, the good people of Seamless.)
As for our lack of cooking prowess, Porch.com suggests it may be a learned behavior. They question whether cooking at home is a behavior that is slowly going extinct, as millennials report only cooking at home a little over four times a week. Cooking at home for one's family, it seems, occurs less frequently with every passing generation.
But before you mourn the loss of home-cooked meals, bare in mind new dining trends are also changing the cooking game. More than two-thirds of millennials make a habit of watching cooking videos online (like those on Tasty), from which they draw culinary inspiration. Millennials also seem to be more interested in meal delivery programs than any other age group; Porch.com reports more than 17 percent have at least tried out a service like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh.
So, maybe the era of the home-cooked meal isn't over after all — maybe millennials are just changing the way we approach it.