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Learning to Cook

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Only 25% of Canadians eat at least one "meal made from scratch" (love that expression) at home a day.

Why not more?

They don't know how to cook.

If kids learn to cook before they're 8 years old, they're 50% more likely to make at least 5 home-cooked meals a week when they grow up. Rather than nuking frozen meals in the microwave, or subsisting on take out.

And that means: less salt, less sugar, less fat, less artificial frankenfoods; more genuine nutrition.

Sounds pretty important. I'm not very domestic myself -- don't fuss over meal preparation, don't pore over recipes much. But: probably 99% of my meals each week are home prepared from scratch by me. I can remember learning to cook well before I was 4 years old, standing on a chair at the counter and the stove, handling hot items and knives: salmon patties was an early triumph!. And: my kids learned to cook the same way. They even invented their own recipes: mushroom shortbread savouries (cut into mushroom shapes with a special cookie cutter) for example. They're adults now, and they do cook for themselves: one a vegan whipping up smoothies and tofu stir fries, the other an unrepentant carnivore who tackles roast turkey and BBQ steaks.

I can recall our local food bank requesting that bags of brown rice or lentils not be donated because most recipients did not know how to handle such items. They requested those pre-packaged lunch box cracker/salami/cheese combos and juice boxes, Kraft dinner and the like.

Learning to cook. It means better health; better grounding in a person's individual culture; more autonomy.

Probably not too much to say (as this article does) that cooking is one of the fundamental skills which makes us human.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    My mum was a dreadful cook, because she grew up under rationing, and food was too restricted to risk a kitchen disaster. I learned to cook as a late teenager, flatting with friends, great fun! Then I got to hate cooking for my family, it was so dreary day in day out, and how come the kids' Dad didn't do it, at least some of the time?they were his kids, not mine! I built up lots of goto meals during that time.
    After a long break from cooking, I'm back. DH has learned to cook, and sometimes we cook together, sometimes for each other. It's fun. And I'm introducing new foods, and learning how to cook them.
    Enjoying cooking and enjoying eating.
    1454 days ago
    I cannot even begin to tell you how many hours my dh and I spent forcing my daughter to join us in the pleasure of cooking healthy foods in our kitchen. She loved to eat it but she hated to cook it. Now she is 26 yrs old, living on her own and can hardly cook for beans...I know she orders pizza or Chinese or some such crap most nights and it drives me CRAZY!!!
    Then she complains about feeling like crap or being fat (because of course she is gaining weight!).
    1456 days ago
    I learned how to cook and bake @ an early age watching my grandmother and parents. It has paid off big dividends. I'm not a fussy cook either! Just plain and simple. Works for me.
    1456 days ago
    Great point! I love to cook with the kids, but am often scared of hot pans at their face level and sharp knives, chopping machines, the hot oven, and all that scary stuff. Perhaps I over-restrict them. Will have to think about it. Thanks -Marsha
    1456 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    Great article.

    Our family had 'from scratch' meals daily with home-grown produce UNTIL the advent of frozen dinners and frozen pot pies in the 1950's. The convenience of those led to more processed, 'heat and eat' meals (before microwaves). I'm sure Mom enjoyed the break from preparing so many meals for her family of seven. In the 1960's we moved from a rural area to the suburbs and starting eating more commercially-canned goods. I'm thinking if I go look at old family photos there will be a noticeable weight gain for most of us showing up about the same time as the processed foods.

    Cooking from scratch and preparing raw foods is a relatively new adventure for me which I enjoy for the most part. No children, so an adult lifetime of eating out in restaurants, drive-thrus, Friday night Happy Hour buffets, and employer's cafeteria for breakfast and lunch along with hitting the vending machines at work. Brief breaks in this routine when I was going through a 'diet' phase.
    1456 days ago
    Thanks for sharing! Fantastic article!
    1456 days ago
    All three of my younger brothers took Home Ec in high school because they like to cook, they like to eat, and as adults they are still good cooks.

    (At the time, I wasn't allowed to take Shop class because I was a girl, and they never heard of such a thing!)
    1456 days ago
  • KANOE10
    That was a great article. I like the way that she not only wants kids to learn to cook but actually wants everyone to learn to cook and to get away from eating processed foods.
    3 of my kids are excellent cooks. One refuses to do much prep but at least eats healthy.

    However, the students and young people that I work with are part of the fast food culture. They rarely bring in homemade meals. They are always buying lunches and breakfasts even if they make less money than I do. Many of my students eat sweetened cereal for lunches/

    I cook 90-100 percent of my family's meals from scratch with my husband. I love it!

    1457 days ago
    Looks like our approach to cooking is very similar: no muss, no fuss but some curiosity and willingness to experiment and learn through trial and error.

    Hmm got a little of this around and some of that...wonder if they'll work together in a soup or crockpot concoction of some sort...? VOILA! Another creation to carry me through the week! :-)

    I think I've managed to pass that along to my son...!

    1457 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/26/2014 9:24:04 AM
    My mother was an excellent cook. (OK too excellent, she was also morbidly obese) So, I never got much chance to cook at home. But I did learn to bake: breads, pies, cakes, all the desserts!

    I learned to cook dinners as an adult. And relearned how to cook healthy after that.
    1457 days ago
    I agree! I was cooking most of my family's meals by the age of 12 (my parents both worked). I loved cooking with my kids when they were little, it taught them how to cook and also led to some great conversations. I find it as a nice destressir when I get home from work.
    1457 days ago
    I do like to cook, but there are so many good reasons to make our own meals. The older I get the simpler my meals. It doesn't have to be complicated to be nourishing.
    1457 days ago
    Cooking is a prized skill... some learned in childhood... some later. But many of the things I do well are NOT the healthy stuff... it's a whole different skill set. Had to learn to cook all over again!

    1457 days ago
    So important and another thing I take for granted...

    I can be the world's worst (raw chicken on our first date, pie crusts that could be used for hubcabs) and the best (poached salmon, Brazilian rice, smoothies par-excel-lance), but was so blessed to grow up in a home with no junk food and multitudes of freggies.
    We also took a semester of 'home-ec' in junior high (I bounced my dumplings on the floor)
    But we were offered the basics.

    I have my stand-bys and my mother's beautiful cookbooks and always have an excuse for eating out...

    Time to put the joy back into meal preparation!
    1457 days ago
  • NANCY-
    One class I remember from 8th grade was making crepes. For me it required patience and perseverance to get a good crepe.
    I think everyone should have a few simple "Go To" meals in their skill set. I remember when we all had to take Home Economics. Cooking, sewing on a button, personal finance. These skills should be taught to ALL students. Oops sorry, didn't mean to get on a soapbox.
    1457 days ago
    Terrible news, but I guess it makes sense. In our town we are asked to donate cereal and microwavable single-serving items for kids who don't have enough to eat on the weekends. They get a backpack of food each Friday. I don't get it. Poor kids already eat two meals a day at school; what's happening? Why isn't NOT feeding your kids child neglect or abuse? And why don't these parents know how to cook cheap, nutritious meals? I just read that in Nepal most people eat two meals a day of rice & lentils. WAY cheaper and healthier than Kraft macaroni and cheese.
    1457 days ago
    In Japan, they have kids using sharp knives quite early in elementary school. I was surprised but my kids never cut themselves.

    Lots of food for thought - pun not intended. I can't get to like cooking, only dislike it less, but exercise since joining Spark is giving me more stamina for standing in the kitchen.

    Must cook more. Thank you very much for the motivating article.
    1457 days ago
    I love to cook and I am very good at it. I cook from scratch every day.
    1457 days ago
    Thanks for sharing
    1457 days ago
    I loved/hated this.
    I learned to cook at an early age too. My kids were also part of the kitchen routine. It's nice to see we all prepare our own food and there's hardly a box in the house!
    Thanks for brining this up.
    1457 days ago
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