By Sandy Hu
According to NPD’s Crest research as reported in Nation’s Restaurant News , young people between the ages of 18 and 34 are cutting back significantly on restaurant dining. And no wonder. The unemployment rate for adults under 30 is 19.5 percent, compared with 9.5 percent for the total workforce.
So if they’re not dining out, these young people must be in the grocery store. But they’re probably not shopping for potatoes and other food ingredients. They are buying frozen entrees or ready-to-eat meals from thedeli or the prepared foods case.
At Special Fork, we believe it’s not hard to cook something simple, tasty and interesting. You save money by doing it yourself, you know your meal is fresh, and you know what you are consuming without having to check an ingredient label.
If you’re a Gen Y consumer trying to wean yourself from dining out and takeout, follow Special Fork blogger Katie Barreira, who blogs on Tuesdays. She was selected to blog for Special Fork especially to help young cooking newbies, although anyone can benefit from her sage advice. As Gen Y herself, she gets it and she is an experienced and knowledgeable cook. So far, Katie has demystified salt, explained how to make a simple omelet for dinner, given tips to impress your friends with dazzling plate presentations using a plastic squeeze bottle, just like restaurants do, and more.
I tweet Monday to Friday about 3 pm PST @specialforksndy if you want quick cooking suggestions in the moment. Here are some recipe concepts I tweet (in shorter, 140 characters, of course) for super-simple meals any beginner can make:
- Prick potato with a fork and microwave about 7 minutes (depending on size of the potato). When a knife slides easily through the potato, it’s cooked. Make a cross on the top of the potato to split it, then push from both ends towards the middle to fluff the potato. Top with salsa and sour cream, bottled pasta sauce and shredded cheese, or chili (canned or homemade) and green onions. If you have time, bake the potato in a 400F oven about an hour instead of microwaving for that nice, crunchy skin.
- Buy a rotisserie chicken for dinner one night. Remove leftover chicken from the bones and refrigerate for a second dinner. You can shred the remainder, heat in bottled barbecue sauce and serve on toasted hamburger buns. Or dice the chicken and mix with cubed apples, a handful of raisins and chopped toasted walnuts and mayonnaise for a main dish salad. Better yet, roast your own chicken. It’s easy. Special Fork blogger Chef Andrew Hunter, who blogs on Thursdays explains how if you roast two birds, you’ll have plenty of leftovers to repurpose.
- Learn to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Just put your sandwich together, butter the outsides and put in a hot nonstick pan, pressing down on the sandwich with a spatula or by setting another pan on top to weight the sandwich while it is cooking. Flip to the other side when the bottom of the sandwich is golden. If you have an electric Panini maker, it’s even easier. Some combinations: Cheddar cheese slices with sliced onion, tomato and prosciutto. Blue cheese and roast turkey slices. Goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. Serve with soup or salad.
Special Fork bloggers blog Monday through Friday. For more recipes and ideas on your smartphone, check us out at www.specialfork.com. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @specialforksndy.