The purpose of this paper is to examine the self-reported food skills, cooking confidence and practices amongst a sample of parents on the Island of Ireland (IOI) and to highlight jurisdictional similarities and differences between Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (ROI).
Parents (n=363) on the IOI completed a questionnaire exploring confidence levels of food skills, cooking techniques executed and the identification of barriers which might impact on meal preparation. Non-probability convenience sampling was utilised.
The majority of parents (75 per cent) learned their basic cooking skills from their mother with home economics classes being the second most popular source of learning. There were a number of statistically significant jurisdictional differences. For example, when preparing dinners, NI parents were less likely to enjoy cooking and more likely to use processed foods such as breaded frozen chicken and jars of sauces than ROI (x2=56.167, df=1, p<0.001). Similarly, parents in NI were less likely to involve family members in meal preparation (x2=17.939, df=1, p<0.001). Parents in the ROI reported higher confidence levels than NI parents when cooking from basic ingredients; following a simple recipe and preparing new foods. Over half (51 per cent) of parents identified barriers to cooking with fresh ingredients as: time, cost, busy family life and limited facilities.
Findings indicate that parents would benefit from exposure to practical food skills intervention focussed on quick, nutritious family meals while simultaneously developing parents’ culinary skills and cooking confidence in home cooked meal preparation.
There is a lack of information pertaining to food skills and cooking confidence amongst parents on the IOI.
The researchers acknowledge the financial support of the Ursuline Merici Research Bursary Awards in St Angela’s College, Sligo.
McCloat, A., Mooney, E. and Hollywood, L.E. (2017), "Have Irish parents put cooking on the back burner? An Island of Ireland study of the food skills, cooking confidence and practices of parents", British Food Journal, Vol. 119 No. 5, pp. 992-1002. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-09-2016-0440
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