A report from the Children’s Food Trust tells us that if children are taught to cook before the age of 8, they will tend to eat significantly more healthily when they grow up, preparing at least 5 meals a week themselves. It indicates that British children who do learn to cook do so rather later than their continental counterparts. It also tells us that many UK children cannot tell their vegetables apart, confusing lettuce with spinach and being unable to identify an aubergine.
I suspect that this is part of a wider truth, that people who learn to cook eat healthier, full stop. Instead of living on pizzas and TV dinners, they can prepare foods from scratch with healthier ingredients. It’s certainly cheaper to cook for yourself. I cook many more than five meals a week from scratch, not counting breakfast porage. I like cooking, and hardly ever use tinned or frozen foods. I will happily prepare a quiche for lunch, making my own pastry and putting whatever ingredients are to hand with the eggs, milk & cheese. It’s worth the effort. I learned to cook gradually when in my 20s, preparing such things as macaroni cheese, spaghetti Bolognese and risottos. The big breakthrough came when I taught myself to make pastry from flour and shortening, usually margarine. This opened up a world of quiches, fruit pies and crumbles, meat and onion pasties and steak and mushroom pies. It was when I began writing a food blog that I grew more ambitious, tackling dishes from celebrity chefs and cooking for show as well as survival. I do recommend cooking. It is creative and rewarding as well as healthy, and it’s a good way to extend your social life by inviting friends round to sample your efforts.
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