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RESEARCH ENCOURAGES MORE KITCHEN 'KNOW HOW' FOR MEN AND YOUNG ADULTS  

15 February 2017

New research reveals men and young adults are the least able when it comes to planning meals and cooking from scratch. The first study of its kind on the island of Ireland, which was carried out by safefood and led by Dr Moira Dean of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University, looked at the overall food and cooking skills of the population and how these relate to diet.

The findings reveal that men and young adults in particular have a shortage of skills and confidence when it comes to planning meals and cooking from scratch.

The study, which included a study of practical cooking in a real kitchen setting in order to accurately evaluate hands-on skills levels, also found that even adults who are comfortable with basic cooking and food preparation, are less confident when it comes to planning meals, cooking in batches or using up leftovers.

Research lead, Professor Moira Dean said: “The aims of the research were to measure the food and cooking skills of adults on the island of Ireland, determine the healthiness of diets of the adults surveyed, understand the barriers to people cooking from scratch and identify solutions to help them overcome that. 

“What was really evident is how people gained confidence from simply trying out a recipe and how we should be encouraging non-cooks to give it a go.”

In response to the research, safefood launched a series of quick, user-friendly videos to help people with building confidence in quick techniques including roasting vegetables, prepping garlic, chillies and leeks, poaching an egg and roasting a chicken, available on www.safefood.eu and on YouTube.

Keeping basic food cupboard ingredients and sharing cooking responsibilities were viewed as helpful steps to facilitate more cooking from scratch. 

Professor Moira Dean added: “On its own, knowing about healthy eating is not enough to improve the quality of our diets and how healthy we are. Having basic food items like eggs, canned beans and tomatoes, pasta, and dried herbs and spices allows us to be prepared for being unprepared.

“With a few items like this in the cupboard, we can quickly put a meal on the table (e.g. beans on toast, tomatoes and pasta, omelette) when we don’t have time or fresh ingredients available.”

Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director of Human Health and Nutrition at safefood said: “We don’t need to be a domestic god or goddess to put a healthy and safe meal on the table. However, for most of us, food skills involve being able to plan meals ahead, make a shopping list, using leftovers and having some quick meal ideas in the cupboard. The key is to plan ahead and cook more of our meals from scratch, even with time pressures.”

“With this research reporting poor confidence in their own food and cooking skills, we are more inclined to eat ready-made or takeaway meals, which in general are more expensive and less nutritious than meals made from scratch. We’re not asking people to cook everything from scratch but to include some more fresh ingredients.”

The study, carried out by Queen’s in partnership with Ulster University, St Angela’s College Sligo, City of London University and the University of Surrey, also found that those with lower food and cooking skills also had less healthy diets and tend to go for the ‘meal-in-the-hand’ approach.

Keeping basic food cupboard ingredients and sharing cooking responsibilities were viewed as helpful steps to facilitate more cooking from scratch. People are being encouraged to ‘have a go’ at basic cooking and food skills to build their kitchen confidence and help improve their health to address the problem.

The full report “Cooking and food skills – the current picture” is available to download.

For further information please contact safefood Julie Carroll (m) +353 86 601 6005 or Dermot Moriarty (m) +353 86 381 1034 or press@safefood.eu.  

Media inquiries to Suzanne Lagan, Communications Officer at Queen’s University on +44 (0)28 9097 5292.

Photo: Pixabay

 

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