This week is National Nutrition Week, and the theme this year is Project dinner time – cook, eat, enjoy.
Aiming to improve individuals “knowledge, skills and confidence in the kitchen,” the ultimate goal is to bring back the home cooked meal – both for the sake of nutrition and sense of community.
Tying in with this theme was Wednesday nights Eatkit twitter chat; in which the in’s and out’s of dinner-time was discussed. Here’s what I took from the night:
1) TIME is a major barrier for not cooking meals at home. While it’s true very few of Jamie’s recipes actually take 15 minutes (or even 30), a little preparation is sometimes all that’s needed to eat dinner from home. Cooking large batches and freezing, doing a big shop at the beginning of the week, or planning your weekly menu will make home cooking possible.
2) CONFIDENCE – or a lack of, is another hindrance to home cooking. Many agree that cooking show phenomenon’s like Masterchef have in fact deterred would-be home cooks, by frightening us by the amazing skills of these seemingly average contestants. I’ve never been much into Masterchef, mostly for the fact that I don’t aim to emulate the likes of Heston Blumenthal’s fruit meat, but rather enjoy finding inspiration and great new recipes. Cooking shows are without a doubt a trend that’s here to stay, and their natural extension into magazines, cookbooks, even YouTube channels, can only be a good thing.
3) START EARLY – learning to cook is a skill. We spend years learning how to drive, so how can anyone be expected to cook without be taught? Teaching cooking skills to children from an early age is imperative. It’s great to see community initiatives like the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program in primary schools, and Jamie’s Ministry of Food – both aiming to teach and improve cooking skills; the basic foundations needed for home cooking.
4) MONEY – Cooking healthy food at home is often perceived as being overly expensive, with takeaway and junk food seen as more suitable for those with a tight budget. I could reel off studies that have demonstrated ‘healthy foods’ are in fact no more expensive than ‘junk foods,’ but the fact is, often fruit and vegies do appear to be too expensive, so in order to make the most of them, it pays to be smart. Buying in season is a great way to support local farmers and save money, as is visiting your local farmers market. Buying frozen fruit and vegetables is not only much cheaper, it also means you’ll always have some on hand, and the fact that they keep in the freezer for months means less food wastage.
5) STAPLES – When the question of pantry staples was raised in our #Eatkit discussion, pretty much everyone agreed on tinned tomatoes. Keeping shelf stable, affordable and nutritious canned goods on hand such as beans (kidney, chickpeas, cannellini), sauces, herbs and spices, pasta, noodles and rice will ensure there’s always something on hand to whip up a home cooked meal.
What do you see as the major barriers to home cooking?
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