I think you could make a pretty strong case that cooking makes us rich and that Americans are struggling in part because they don’t cook for themselves anymore.
You can easily cut your yearly food expenses by a few thousand dollars a year, just by cooking your food instead of going out to eat. Each year, you could put that money into a retirement fund and watch as it grows.
Also, since each of us pays for appliances, cooking is the only way to get 100% utilization out of the equipment we already invest in each month (either with rent or mortgage). It simply makes no business sense to pay for something you leave sitting around. That’s the definition of waste.
When you cook for yourself you not only save more money, you also don’t need to live on as much money. It’s an incredibly powerful combination that makes financial freedom possible.
Sure there might be a few people who literally cannot afford the one hour it takes to cook their food, but they would need to be making much more money than the average middle class American. Going to out eat easily costs ten times as much as in-house food preparation.
I might go so far as to suggest that if a job is so stressful it forces you to go out to eat several times a week, there is a good chance you’ll be better off quitting that job and cooking for yourself than accepting the cost of restaurant food. Maybe not if you’re making $500K/year, but definitely if you are under $100K/year.
We might be more productive than ever (highly questionable), but we’re also being incredibly wasteful. Sometimes it’s better to sacrifice a little productivity if it means preventing silly & absurd amounts of waste.