Is it odd for an adult American to never use stove, oven, or microwave?

My wife was talking to a colleague the other day (a middle aged single adult male) about home cooking, and he told her something that brought her momentarily speechless. I find it hard to wrap my head around, too. Do you?
He told her that he has never been much of a cook, but one year at Thanksgiving, he decided to make stuffing – the Stove Top Stuffing that comes in a box. It’s basically spices and dried bread. I think the only thing to add is butter. He supposedly prepared it according to the directions on the box, and claims it gave him food poisoning that left him sick for days. We can’t understand what would have made him sick unless the butter was rancid, and even then…
But that’s sort of beside the point. What amazed us was from that point on he has never used stove, oven or microwave. Ever. He cooks no food, heats nothing up at home, never eats leftovers, no microwave dinners, nothing at all. I was trying to envision what that would be like, since a home-cooked meal is the central event of most of our evenings. I can understand a bachelor not cooking in the sense of putting ingredients together and producing a meal, but you can buy ready-made meals and prepared food that needs only to be nuked to make a hot and relatively tasty meal. Apparently he buys prepared salads, lunch meat, and bread, and that’s all he eats at home. He eats out in restaurants, but always finishes his meal so he doesn’t have to take food home. He likes home cooking, and is not noticeably picky, but won’t make hot food for himself. Never mind that he is far more likely to get food poisoning from a salad or other cold, uncooked foods or a restaurant than he is from home cooked spaghetti. I just can’t quite wrap my mind around what it would be like to never eat hot food at home, to never turn on the stove to fry an egg or make a grilled cheese sandwich or bake a potato.
When he moved out of his last apartment, the owners were doing the inspection and were amazed at how well he cleaned the oven. “Oh, I’ve never used the oven or stove.” he said. They just stared at him in slack-jawed bewilderment. Like I would have.
Seem strange to you?

Of course it seems strange. What the fuck did you expect as an answer?

Strange, yes, but not unheard of. I know of 2 single males who keep no food in the house, not even soda or beer, or munchies. Every morsel of food they eat is from restaurants, including fast food.

To each their own, and all that, but I do somewhat “blame” their mothers for being solely responsible for preparing food in their homes while they were growing up, and setting the expectation that food prep is not a “guy” thing.

It is very unusual. Even my son from age 10 or so would make Ramen or heat things in the microwave. Since then he has picked up Mac & Cheese, toasted cheese and the like.

I agree. There are certain basic survival skills like swimming, driving, and food safety that parents are responsible for teaching their children. Everyone has different methods and standards, of course, but for an intelligent human to reach adulthood thinking of basic food prep as a mysterious area of eldritch knowledge fraught with danger is ludicrous. He probably has no clue about nutrition either.

I’m betting he made the stuffing, ate all of it instead of using it as a side-dish in a healthy dinner, and then mistook the resulting bile reaction for food poisoning. Poor man.

Well in my previous thread, I thought it strange that a 26 year-old American would have never eaten in a Chinese restaurant, but apparently it’s not all that odd. And I’ll bet the following replies will be all over the map, too.

Why not their fathers too. My father came from a restaurant family, and I grew up (in the '50s) thinking it was perfectly reasonable for men to cook. And I did when I was single and I still do.

I think that the earlier thread (and initial responses to this one) are illustrating that while such things are unusual, they’re by no means inexplicable, or vanishingly rare. The U.S. is by no means a homogeneous society – in dietary habits, or anything else – and I can pretty much guarantee that anything which is common as dirt in your, or my, personal experience is going to be pretty uncommon for some region or sub-group of the population (and, vice-versa).

I once had a middle-aged male cow-orker who never cooked, never ate in a restaurant, and never grocery shopped. He lived in Manhattan, and his elderly mother would shlep in by subway from Brooklyn every Sunday, with enough food to last him a week. I assumed he was at least able to use the refrigerator.

He once confessed that he had never been in any kind of store. He bought everything mail-order (this was pre-internet). He once got some shoes that were too short, so he cut off the ends.

I could go on for hours about this guy’s weirdness.

In the film* Bill Cunningham: New York* about the New York Times street fashion photographer, he talked about how he had all the appliances and cabinets removed from the kitchen in his apartment to make more space for file drawers for his photo negatives. He never cooked or ate anything at home - his entire life was out on the streets of the city, at the office, or at parties, so why waste expensive Manhattan real estate?

My dad didn’t come from a restaurant family, but he still could throw down in the kitchen. Cooking was the one house chore that my parents did more or less equally, since both worked. They didn’t let their kids fly the nest without at least having the basics covered.

I’ve heard of Manhattan residents who have great kitchens in their apartments, with top-of-the-line appliances and cabinets from well-known manufacturers but who eat out all the time. Not that I blame them. If I lived in Manhattan and could afford it, I’d eat out all the time.

I’ve lived in places where I never used the stove/oven or only used it a handful of times but I made frequent use of the microwave. I also eat a lot of fresh foods and had a George Foreman grill.

My former boss would buy premade tossed green salads several times a week, and when I pointed out that he could buy a bag of ready to eat salad greens, a container of cherry tomatoes and maybe a cucumber for what he paid for one salad, he said it was too much work and trouble.

My ex’s sister bought a townhouse a few blocks away from their family home and started to move out and actually sleep there for a while, but always went back home for all her meals (she never cooked anything in her life!). As time whet by she spent less and less time at her new place and eventually moved back home and would only go to her new place once a week or so to dust.

I have a friend who probably could not make a cup of tea. But he does use a microwave. When his wife is out of town she prepares meals for him and freezes them.

For the short period of time I was single that was me. Had I began and continued a single life through adulthood it likely would have remained so. I just can’t be bothered to cook for myself. Fast food, sandwiches and resteraunts are the prefered options. If I didn’t feel like going anywhere I just wouldn’t eat. Never kept much more than a bottle of whiskey at the house. A bed, TV and dresser were all I cared to have for furnature as well. At that time anyways, these days with a wife and children I eat at home whether I like it or not.

That said, I wouldn’t have found his habits even the least bit odd.

I stayed in an AirBnB in Manhattan for 3 weeks. We had to pull some pots and pans out of the oven before we could use it. He had tons of cooking utensils but no microwave. And the kitchen was fairly big.
In just about every restaurant we went to we saw a bicycle delivery guy picking up food for delivery. (Seemed like the same guy - he hauled ass.) So the takeout infrastructure is there.

Eating nothing but carryout or fast food would get awfully expensive, in addition to not exactly being healthy. I couldn’t imagine deliberately keeping no food or even beverages or condiments in the house. :confused: I don’t even do that when I’m traveling; I’ll always have something on hand, usually muffins and fresh fruit.

I grew up next door to a family where the wife never cooked (the husband didn’t either) and the house didn’t have an oven. She died first, and afterwards he decided to move to a senior village, and has since passed himself. Anyway, yeah, the first thing the Realtor said when he listed the house was that he’d better get an oven installed or he’d never be able to sell it. They usually ate in restaurants or had things that didn’t require cooking.

As an aside, when my brother was a young adult, he had a friend whose first apartment was the kind of place where only a 19-year-old boy would live - a single room with a kitchenette and a closet converted into a bathroom with a toilet and shower, and a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling. He was living on delivery pizza, and complained that the place was infested with roaches. My brother pointed out that his, ahem, art project was the reason why; he was stacking the boxes in the corner and wanted to do this until they reached the ceiling. :smack: IDK if he disposed of them before they reached that point.

I’d find it a bit weird. I certainly knew a lot of people in their 20s who ate at restaurants, picked up take out or ordered delivery for just about every meal. But, they certainly could reheat leftovers. It tended to be people who lived on campus and always had a meal plan.

I did some cooking while in college since I moved out of the dorms after freshman year and also had worked in the kitchen at a couple of restaurants. Plus, I had two roommates.

Living by myself, I don’t do a ton of cooking. But I can bake some chicken or fish or make the occasional omelette.

I had a great-aunt who was mildly mentally disabled, and while she couldn’t follow a recipe, she could heat soup on the stove or bake a frozen pizza, or make a cake from the kind of mix where all she had to do was add water or milk. I also knew a man in my old town who had a brain tumor removed, and while he seemed normal on the surface, he also had a seizure disorder and was not allowed to use a stove or oven; he could use a microwave. IDK if he was allowed to use a Crock Pot.

If people like that could prepare their own food, the people in other posts could too. However, once in a while you run into cultural things where even in this day and age, men do not do “women’s work”.