Learning to cook is crucial to personal finance. I’m passing along this info because I wish I’d realized at a much younger age that the effects of learning how to cook are much farther-reaching than keeping your body fueled. Adults will give you all sorts of advice about jobs, saving money, finding an apartment, avoiding credit card debt but also developing good credit, yada yada yada.
No one told me to learn to cook. No one told me that management of my food expenses would have a huge impact on my personal finances. And no one was telling my friends, either. Food will be one of the biggest monthly expenses for the rest of your life.
Learning to cook is the first step, and it won’t happen overnight. But the second step, menu planning, is something you can do while you’re working on Step 1. Menu planning sounds fancy, like making four-course meals every night, but it just means deciding what to eat for the upcoming week, writing up a shopping list, and following through and cooking the food before it rots in your fridge.
I graduated college 15 years ago and never moved back home. When I think about how much food-related money I wasted in those first 5-10 post-grad years, I remember many poor repetitive habits…
How many times did I open and close kitchen cabinets and the fridge, searching for a dinner option, only to end up saying “screw it” and ordering takeout?
How many times did I throw out produce/other perishables because my recipe required half a bunch of asparagus, and I didn’t have a plan on how to use the other half of that bunch?
How much money did I spend going out to lunch when I had a day job instead of bringing in home-cooked food more often?
Bad habits fix themselves with menu planning. Besides avoiding wasteful spending habits, menu planning helps create habits that save money. For example, I have my food store’s app. I browse the digital coupons for things I’d be buying anyway and I browse the digital circular to look for sales that will help inform my menu plan for the week, in addition to looking for sales on things that I might not need this week, but will need soon.
Some bills will always be fixed, but a food bill is something to be smart about. It’s called “home economics” for a reason. The home is a micro-economy, and the younger you learn how to manage this economy, the better off your financial future will be. Ya know, if you care about that sort of thing.
And here’s a little end note: This post may be all about cooking from the money angle, but I could write ten more posts about how learning to cook affects other areas of your life positively. From Gen-X sister to Millennial sister, I’m telling you this: You will never regret learning to cook well.
My name is Suzanne Jacobetz, aka The Cursing Gourmet, and I am Bridget’s older (not necessarily wiser) cousin. I’m Generation X all the way and do not enjoy it when I hear 80s/90s rock on classic rock stations. I live in the mountains in Colorado with Mike, my husband of 10 years, 15+ miles from a grocery store. It’s a very quiet, peaceful life, or at least it used to be: a year ago we had our first kiddo, a sweetie pie named Isabelle ❤️