I learned to cook when I was young, and I kind of loved it. Why? Like all children, I believed in lies, particularly when it came to useless and incorrect things, like the Tooth Fairy, '90s toy commercials, or how to boil an egg. When I was in my early 20s, a friend taught me the very basics of Korean cooking, which revived my interest in eating well and heartily, and enjoying the satisfaction of preparing good food for my closest friends.
Then I started grad school, worked two to three jobs in order to pay for grad school, and felt my future become less about #goals and more of a fuzzy theoretical possibility. So I stopped cooking. Why? I am too f*cking tired.
Of course, I'm not alone. "Millennial burnout" is that contentious but measurable phenomenon whereby my entire generation was raised to "optimize" ourselves and our time and our productivity 24/7—to the point that technology is rewiring our brains to think like machines, until we'll inevitably have to forfeit some of our humanity just to become viable members of the work force one day (okay, that's an exaggeration, but I did read it on the Internet). And with millennials earning an average of "20% less than boomers despite being better educated," it's not like we're ordering takeout every other night of the week. In fact, surveys suggest young people ages 18 to 29 are staying at home to cook more than previous generations. You know, because we're broke as sh*t and stuff.
So with all that in mind, we, the Instagram generation, love the concept of meal prep. Accounts from all over the world and all levels of experience, from professionals to adventurous amateurs, share their tips and easy recipes. You don't have to have energy or motivation or faith in the future to prepare interesting and tasty snacks ahead of time; you just have to follow directions.
Find DIY Recipes for Restaurant Favorites
If you ever, and we mean ever, pay $6 for a "cheese and fruit bistro box" from Starbucks, you don't deserve nice things. You can find copycat versions of Starbuck's entrees all over the Internet, but one of the best comes from, where else, but Instagram. @damn_delicious is one of the most popular meal prep accounts, with links to easy recipes and tips.
In fact, you should Google copycats of all of your guilty pleasures. Instead of blowing $10 on a sandwich every other day, you can prepare a dupe at home and save the cash. Even when you're feeling exhausted, knowing that you already enjoy what you're preparing (and saving money) can motivate you to pack that cheese in advance.
- 1 ounce aged cheddar cheese, sliced
- 1 ounce Gouda, sliced
- 1 ounce Brie, cut into a wedge
- 1/4 cup nine-grain crackers
- 3 slices Granny Smith apple
- 2 tablespoons raw almonds
- 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
- Place cheeses, crackers, apple, almonds and cranberries into meal prep containers.