s/o dinner - Have you been taught how to cook/plan meals

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Posted 2/16/2013 by momof1child in NSBR Board
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PeaNut 542,144
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Posted: 2/16/2013 8:33:05 AM
Just wondering.

Sometimes 'not liking' a task is because you havn't been properly taught how to complete the task. I have been taught how to properly clean a house, although I don't like it.

It seems to me that since "Home Ec" has been dropped from most schools, how many peas have been taught how to plan meals, run a household from a person other than a family member(s)?

Home Ec is such an important course. It teaches so many things, such as how to plan, cook meals, and other skills that should be learned prior to a student living off on their own.

How many peas have taken a "Home Ec" course or similar and has it helped you to do a task more efficiently even though you don't enjoy the task? Just wondering?

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Posted: 2/16/2013 8:38:37 AM
No, I never took a Home Ec course and I can't even recall cooking one single thing or even helping my mom cook. My dad worked the evening shift, so we had very early meals so that he could dine with us and then leave for work and I think that because of that, she pretty much had a meal on the table as soon as I got home from school every day.

I think I learned by trial and error, although I had one very good friend teach me to make lasagna (I had never even had it before I was an adult) but that's about it.

Meal planning, however, comes naturally to me since I'm organized and detail oriented.



PeaNut 542,144
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Posted: 2/16/2013 8:41:01 AM
Burning Feather - My parents farmed, along with my grandparents.

I am so glad that your friend was able to help you with lasagna. Homemade always tastes better


PeaNut 377,857
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Posted: 2/16/2013 8:42:55 AM
I never took a home ec course either - just learned at home. At the high school my DD will attend they have life skills classes that are mandatory. They offer a different one each semester and include cooking, economics, nutrition, and a bunch of other things.

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PeaNut 163,613
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Posted: 2/16/2013 8:45:38 AM
I never took any elective other than art.
All through school

I do use what I learned practically every day so j don't feel I wasted my time not taking home ec or sewing.
Although sometimes I wish I'd had time for those

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PeaNut 542,144
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Posted: 2/16/2013 8:45:52 AM
scrappyinNE - that is wonderful that this is a required course.

Both guys and gals should have a basic knowledge before leaving high school.

I went to HS in the late 70's (yes, I am that old) and when my kids were in HS, these courses were deleted due to funding cuts.

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Posted: 2/16/2013 8:54:03 AM
I took Home Ec and I don't believe we were ever taught how to "plan" a menu. While I occasionally helped out with shopping/preparing meals when I was young, my mom did the majority of it.

I'm almost 34 and have only recently (over the past few years) taken the time to plan meals and shop accordingly. My cooking is getting much better, but it's still trial and error. I do enjoy cooking though... Not so much the planning/shopping part.

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Posted: 2/16/2013 8:54:15 AM
Nope never learned. Taught myself and still have a hard time at it!

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Posted: 2/16/2013 9:01:50 AM
I took home ec. in junior high, but we did mostly fluff things like cookies and things like that.

I remember being terrible at the sewing segment though.

I never helped my mom cook. She's not that great at it herself though and DH's mom isn't either. I'm also a picky eater (yes, I've tried to like more stuff), so that makes cooking for others challenging.

I think I'm going to put everyone in charge of 1 dinner/week. There's DH, myself, DD almost 16 and DS almost 13. They can surely handle it.


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Posted: 2/16/2013 9:05:59 AM
I never took home ec. I have regretted it many times since I've been an adult

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Posted: 2/16/2013 9:13:54 AM
I never took Home Ec. My mom taught me to sew and cook at home. I needed my elective credits to be able to take choir and orchestra.

That said, I learned a lot about cooking from the family I nannied for. They were "foodies" 25 years ago and I never could have learned that much in a high school class.

When I left there, I went to college and worked in the campus kitchen. I learned a great deal there. The head cook was a great teacher.

I like meal planning, but it boils down to making the time to do it. Plus, dh and I both cook, so we need to plan together.

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Posted: 2/16/2013 9:20:24 AM
I had home ec in middle school, though that was nearly 25 years ago now. I distinctly remember that we had to plan a meal. The teacher gave us a list of ingredients we could buy and the price, plus a budget. We planned the meal, made the shopping list, she bought the ingredients and brought them in, then we made the meal, and each group of students in the class invited one teacher to come have the meal with the group.

We made some sort of taco thing, me and the two guys in my group.

Sue Pea

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Posted: 2/16/2013 9:22:03 AM
I'm old enough that home ec. was a requirement, although I think it was jr. high and not high school. I did learn the basics there. I agree with you about having someone teach you the "basics" of a lot of home skills. A friend of mine always admired my sewing and crafts work, so I had her, her teen DD, and a friend of the DD's over to my house to make some simple felt Christmas ornaments. I had planned how I was going to do everything, but when they got there, I discovered that the two teens had never even threaded a needle, and none of them knew how to hand stitch at all. It was surprising to me, but I taught them all, and we ended up having a great time and made lots of ornaments.

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PeaNut 209,453
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Posted: 2/16/2013 9:26:00 AM
Yep. In my house as part of our allowance, both my brother and I had to cook a dinner each week. We would go shopping with out parents and get what we needed and then we cooked it. We could only do a frozen pizza once a month, so these were real meals liked baked chicken and spaghetti. Also we had to buy something that was on sale or we had coupons for. We always had to have a meat, vegetable and some kind of starch.


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Posted: 2/16/2013 9:52:56 AM
I took Home Ec in High School, but I don't recall anything such as meal planning and the like being covered. I think it was pretty basic; measuring, etc and we learned how to cook a few very simple dishes (e.g., french toast).

My mom had me help her cook fairly every now and again at home, especially when she baked. So, I learned a lot of that from her. But she never had me cook meals on my own or anything. I taught myself how to meal plan, which goes along with my personality as I'm a fairly organized/list-making/planner type of person. As far as cooking is concerned, I definitely don't consider myself to be a master chef, but I am very good at following directions. So as long as a recipe as fairly explicit, I can do a good job, even changing things so they better fit my dietary needs. I have become a better cook and enjoy cooking more the older I become, so that helps it not to be such a cumbersome task. I definitely need to do better at getting kids in the kitchen and having them help me. Part of the challenge with that is I work outside the home full-time, so a lot of my food prep takes place the night before or early AM so that the main dish can be popped into the oven or whatever by DH before I get home.


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PeaNut 543,767
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Posted: 2/16/2013 9:57:49 AM
I took home ec, but apart from a sewing segmant, and short cooking segment (we made monkey bread), I have no idea what we were taught.

My mother also didn't teach me meal planning, so what I've learned I've picked from blogs and other internet sources.

I should also point out that when I think of meal planning, I'm thinking the kind of menu planning that uses the ingredients purchased for several different meals in the week. So tomatoes and lettuce will be used in tacos one night and then BLTS the next day for lunch. Left-overs will also be repurposed into a different meal later. That kind of meal planning, while it makes my life easier in the end, is more complicated to start with. I'm trying to get better at it, but it's a process.


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Posted: 2/16/2013 10:08:21 AM
I took Home Ec and spent many hours cooking with my mom. I still hate cooking. It is not enjoyable to me. In fact when I get done I rarely want to eat. It isn't because the food doesn't taste good it is just that I am so over being in the kitchen. Also I hate dishes and all the mess involved in the process. I love to eat especially when someone else does the cooking.
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Posted: 2/16/2013 10:12:50 AM
I've never been taught and I had no interest in learning to cook or meal plan when I was in school. When I lived on my own, I taught myself how to cook and I'm quite good at it.

I don't think home ec should be a school subject. It's easy enough to learn on one's own. It's not rocket science.

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PeaNut 526,154
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Posted: 2/16/2013 10:14:44 AM
I was never taught to cook or to plan meals.

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Posted: 2/16/2013 10:16:02 AM
We never had the option of home ec.

I taught myself and I'm teaching my kids. They can cook, budget and bank.

I really do wonder about their generation. Many of my 16 yr old dd's friends and acquaintances are so ridiculously spoiled and pampered. They are more concerned about their next manicure and shoveling snow would be out of the question Meal?? That's what mom buys.

Even in my generation, people don't have the skills. My 13 yr old ds finds it funny that he brings different foods to school that the other kids can't identify ROFL. I packed him some sugar snap peas with a small container of ranch dip. The boys at his lunch table didn't have a clue what they were and wanted to try them

I also packed a small spinach salad with berries and feta as a side dish once. The boys wondered why there were leaves in ds's salad. Ds said it was spinach. They said "ewwww" but they wanted to try some leaves with dressing. They also asked why there was fruit on his salad??

There is a growing trend of hiring people to do the work. Meal prep. businesses are growing in our area. Many of my neighbours (middle class) have house cleaners, hire lawn services, snow removal services etc. times are changing.

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PeaNut 526,154
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Posted: 2/16/2013 10:16:18 AM
I also went to a technical high school that did not have Home Ec classes. I did take required Electric Shop, Wood Shop, Print Shop, and Architectural drafting tho!

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PeaNut 110,613
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Posted: 2/16/2013 10:20:45 AM
I took home ec all through high school. One year we learned good basics that you do need. How to roast a bird, how to can, etc. It was probably my most informative year in home ec. Another year they were teaching us ridiculous things like how to make choux paste. Good, I can make eclairs, but how am I going to feed my family.


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Posted: 2/16/2013 10:21:45 AM
I love to cook; meal planning and cooking came pretty naturally to me.

I used to watch my Dad bbq, so I do all the grilling too.

My Mom is a picky eater and not adventurous, but she had a few dishes that she did well and I took those recipes with me when I moved out, but I got creative in the kitchen early on.
The first recipe I remember trying out all by myself was custard-filled cream puffs when I was about 12 and they were a success


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Posted: 2/16/2013 10:41:50 AM
I think this is part of the problem with the eating habits of a lot of Americans. They just don't know how to do it. I never had a Home Ec class, but I did take wood shop. I can do the architect handwriting, that took up a week of wood shop, but nobody taught me how to plan a meal or make a budget.

I "cooked" like my mom for a long time ("cooked" being in quotation marks because now I don't consider making Rice a Roni cooking) and then I got cable. Rachael Ray totally taught me how to cook.

sunny 5

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Posted: 2/16/2013 11:07:12 AM
I took home ec for a semester in jr high and only remember the horrible food that we prepared...and the one time we all made pudding and mine was the only group that made vanilla and didn't burn it.

I wanted to take shop..but girls weren't allowed to do that...so I took wood shop in high school.

I learned to cook at home and in a volunteer run ski lodge. I despised home ec. I learned to sew from my mom.

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Posted: 2/16/2013 11:08:44 AM
I took Home Ec in high school I don't remember the meal planning though.

It just came natural to me, i grew up in a house where we had a garden , canned and froze foods. My dad was a chef so I spent a lot of time int he kitchen with hi.
My parents got divorced when I was 16 and my mom worked so I had to have dinner ready every night when she got home. I babysat always for extra money - my one summer job one year I lived with the family and fixed meals by the time I got married it was easy.

It was good training by the time I was 23 I was remarried and taking care of our family that had 7 children between us!

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Posted: 2/16/2013 11:17:08 AM
I'm ambivalent about whether these things should be taught in schools. Yes, they are necessary life skills, but the burden on schools is so high these days. Plus as a teenager I know I would have been pissed if I had been forced to give up an elective slot for home ec. in place of choir or theater.

My mom taught me to budget, balance a checkbook, plan meals, cook, clean and do laundry. She also taught me some simple sewing. She could have taught me a lot more about sewing as she was a beautiful seamstress, but I had zero interest in learning. I was tired of homemade clothes!

I'm not going to say that my mother was a gourmet cook, but I left home knowing how to make simple meals, how to stretch a pound of hamburger into two meals at least, how to cook and debone a whole chicken (and make stock from the carcass) because it's a lot cheaper that way, and the basics of simple baking from scratch. The fancier stuff I've learned, as someone mentioned above, from Food Network, but the skills my mom gave me would have kept us from over-reliance on packaged foods even if I'd never had any interest in learning more.

ETA: Just as an aside, the first year I taught was high school choir and the home ec room was right down the hall from mine, and man, that teacher taught her kids to cook some awesome stuff. Our hallway always smelled amazing. She had an exterior door and would even do a grilling unit with them. If I was lucky, sometimes they would share!


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Posted: 2/16/2013 11:44:12 AM
I went to classes given by W.I.C. at 16 when I had my DD, as well as classes for managing money, and time since I was on my own going to classes for my GED and working part time. Oh and parenting classes too. My 1st H died when I was 16 about 3 months after my DD was born. I didn't re-marry until I was 34.

I had no idea how to cook, clean, take care of a household let alone a kid but I managed. I also watched Martha Stewart when she was on PBS. She taught me how to clean.

Lol you couldn't take Home Ec until you were 16 in high school so I was out of school and on my own before I was eligible to take the class.

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Posted: 2/16/2013 12:08:17 PM
I took home ec in junior high because it was required. My boys (graduated here in 2008 and 2011) had to take a semester in high school in order to graduate. I am glad they still require it here.

Personally, I didn't learn a lot of skills like meal planning or cooking from home ec or from my mother. She was not a good cook and she really didn't teach me the basics of housekeeping either. When I went to college, I had no idea how to do my laundry. However, my sister grew up in the same house and she is OCD about those things. She is a good cook and her house s always spotless. My house is not nearly as clean/uncluttered, but I have learned to be a good cook over the years.


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Posted: 2/16/2013 12:08:59 PM
I took Home Ec for 4 yrs in hs. I had the most wonderful teacher. She taught us menu planning, cooking, sewing etc. I am a good cook, a good meal planner but not so great house cleaner. I used to make my clothes but not anymore.
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Posted: 2/16/2013 12:54:50 PM
I had 6 weeks of home ec in middle school as part of an exploratory class everyone had to take. I think I may have been in the last class that got to do that. I have no idea what we did in that class. I did take a food an nutrition class in high school, but I have no idea why I did that because it wasn't my thing. I did think it was funny that there were a bunch of football players in my class. I do know we cooked some, because I remember making fresh pasta.

My mom would have taught me a lot if I had been interested in it at all. A lot of what I know I've figured out myself. I would not be opposed to everyone having to take some kind of home ec or consumer math type of class.


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Posted: 2/16/2013 1:25:23 PM
I had Home Ec in high school. It was a joke! The teacher certainly didn't inspire a joy of anything.

The largest part of the course was a day care. They brought in 4 year olds and we were to take care of them. We were nothing more than free day care workers.

My MIL helped us set up a budget, before dh & I got married.

She is also the one responsible for my learning to cook. She gifted me a subscription to Taste of Home magazine, which started it all.

I went from canned soup and grilled cheese sandwiches or Kraft mac & cheese to cooking from scratch and making our own bread.

We have tried canning. Haven't attempted it in over 10 years, I suppose. But, I've kept every thing, as I'd like to give it a try again.

Between dh & I, we eat rather well. We enjoy trying all kinds of different foods. Dh is on a vegetarian/vegan foods kick at present.
This is a man who thought a meal had to have meat and potatoes & salad was a side, not a meal.

In turn, we are teaching our son to cook. His latest interest is making crepes. For Valentine's day, I gave him a crepe pan and spatula from Sur la Table. The kid was over the moon when he took them out of the gift bag.

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Posted: 2/16/2013 1:28:39 PM

My mom would have taught me a lot if I had been interested in it at all.

In my case, it was my grandmother who would have taught me. She would make Seafoam candy with me when I would stay with her (and the weather was favorable). Plus, she was THE best cook ever.

At the time, I was too young to appreciate what she offered. I enjoyed making things with her. But, I never retained anything.

I miss her so much!

The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. ~Albert Einstein

Pretty In PeaNK

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Posted: 2/16/2013 1:35:41 PM
I hate to ask this, but what exactly is "meal planning?" Because, anyone who makes a meal has to plan it to some extent, right? Am I missing something? And I ask in the most honest-to-goodness, no snark intended, curiosity.

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Posted: 2/16/2013 1:39:34 PM
I took home ec in junior high but didn't learn much about cooking. I learned after I got married. My poor DH was the guinea pig
I found that I loved cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. The meal planning, list making is just part of who I am so I picked that up on my own too.


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PeaNut 542,144
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Posted: 2/16/2013 2:31:12 PM

I hate to ask this, but what exactly is "meal planning?" Because, anyone who makes a meal has to plan it to some extent, right? Am I missing something? And I ask in the most honest-to-goodness, no snark intended, curiosity.

Meal planning (to me) is selecting the recipes for the main meal and lunches (if you pack lunches).

Check to see what you have in your pantry & freezer and what needs to be replenished or replaced. This includes flour, sugar, frozen left over meat, etc.

Write out a list to take grocery shopping.

Purchase the necessary items.

Use & enjoy your meals.

I like to purchase items "on sale". If ground beef is on sale, I will buy 3-4 lbs and make meatballs/meatloaf while it is fresh.

I also weigh out 1 lb at a time and gently brown it, let the fat drain and then store & freeze this meat to use on tacos, nachoes when grd beef is required. Saves mess in the long run and half of the work is done for those meals.

When chicken breasts are on sale, I will purchase a bit more than needed. I bbq the extra meat and then slice the chicken into portion sizing and freeze. I use this meat for ceaser salad with chicken or chicken salad.

A roation of the meat in the freezer ensures not as much waste and saves on those weekend nights so that you can make a quick meal with little fuss.

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Posted: 2/16/2013 2:55:11 PM
No one ever taught DH or me to cook. We just figured it out. We have cookbooks and the Food Network. What else do you need?

Meal planning isn't rocket science. Go through your cook books, pick out a week of recipes. Buy the ingredients. Cook the food.

Why would it be necessary to waste time at school learning that?

Pastafarian Pea

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Posted: 2/16/2013 3:06:19 PM
I grew up helping my mom in the kitchen. When I was really little she gave me jobs like scraping carrots and as I got older I helped with more and more. It wasn't lessons so much as it was time to hang out with my mom and catch up. She worked full time and cooked when my parents got home. I don't think 'meal planning' was anything she taught; just something we picked up along the way.

In junior high we had a choice between shop or home ec and since I'd been helping in the kitchen and sewing small projects since I was small, I picked shop. I learned how to wire a lamp, how to do basic woodworking, metal working, learned how to use tools, drafting, stuff I didn't already know. We had to do an exchange with the home ec class for a few weeks where we swapped classes. They did a small project in shop; we made a gym bag and learned how to cook a few dishes.

I love to cook and I am pretty good in the kitchen. But I didn't learn what I know from a class.


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Posted: 2/16/2013 3:47:50 PM
I took home ec in jr high but can't say I got a whole lot out of it. My mom didn't cook either, so I didn't really learn there, either. I am pretty good at cooking and meal planning, but it was self-taught trial by fire. I had our first DD right out of college and became a SAHM and DH's first job paid once a month (and not a whole lot!)

I had to learn quickly how to budget for a monh at a time, and the first thing I did after he got paid was make a big grocery shopping trip. Of course, to do that, I planned our meals out a month ahead of time, and because we were pretty broke, everything was from scratch. I figured that if I could read a cookbook I could learn to cook, and I did.

15 years later, our budget isn't nearly so tight and I don't have nearly as much time to cook. But I still plan meals out 1-2 weeks ahead and shop accordingly. Because I work long hours now, I do a lot of pre-cooking on Sunday afternoons to make it easier during the week, and all those years of forced scratch cooking left me with no appetite for heavily processed or prepared meals.

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Posted: 2/16/2013 4:57:14 PM
I took Home Ec and learned some of the basics, but I would say I taught myself. I did watch my parents in the kitchen. My mom hated cooking and liked baking even less. My dad baked our birthday cakes.

They don't call it Home Ec anymore. In our school district it's called Consumer Sciences. My dd made rice krispie squares last week.

I always say I need to have my dd's help me in the kitchen, but then it's easier to just do it. I'm working on that. I told them in order to have one-on-one cooking time the other two will have to do something together while I cook with one of them. It would be chaotic to have all 4 of us in there cooking.



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Posted: 2/16/2013 5:31:52 PM
We were required to take home ec and I seriously can't remember a single thing I cooked there. I did learn how to use a sewing machine and I'm glad for that, but it really hasn't had any effect on my lifestyle, other than when I want to make something with a sewing machine I know how to use the machine.

My mother and father did 'teach' us how to cook and bake (we helped them to do these things), but my mother was not so much of a meal planner, she would go to the grocery store and grab stuff and hope that meals came out of it (with some direction but not a real 'plan'). I started meal planning because my husband and I were young and we didn't make a lot of money, and I would plan our groceries based on meals and what was on sale that week. I never had any classes on how to 'run a household' and my parents never really told me about paying bills or anything like that, I don't think anyone even told me how to fill out a check, but I manage just fine.


PeaNut 528,470
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Posted: 2/16/2013 5:37:22 PM
Home Ec was never an option in my school. Too bad too...I could have used the info!

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PeaNut 266,636
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Posted: 2/16/2013 5:54:23 PM
We did home ec in 7 8 9

Half a year kitchen. Half a year sewing.

I learned how to dust a sewing machine

I learned not to put ice in a boiling Pyrex dish

No meals, no meal planning, no real cooking. I'm still lost

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PeaNut 9,321
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Posted: 2/16/2013 6:46:26 PM
I don't remember anything from home ec.

We have tried to meal plan but it seems like a lot of food goes to waste when we do. DH does all the cooking and he works nights 3 or 4 days a week, different each week, so dinner is usually a crap shoot.

His crock pot broke a couple of weeks ago and that has really messed things up. He can't decide which new one to get.

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PeaNut 15,108
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Posted: 2/16/2013 6:47:59 PM
My high school still had home ec classes, but I had no interest and didn't take them. My husband does most of the cooking now, but both of us have cooked a lot, and we cook good, fresh, tasty meals. My mother cooked the same five or six things (badly) the whole time I was growing up, and rotated in a heavy number of fast-food meals and frozen dinners. She, on the other hand, was a Future Homemakers of America member and took home ec classes.

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PeaNut 151,660
June 2004
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Posted: 2/16/2013 6:55:24 PM
I never took Home Ec... only took all college prep courses.

My mom is a wonderful cook, and while I can cook some things, I can't cook as well as she does. I don't think she ever taught us how to cook. My sister is worse than I am, pretty much all microwaved or prepackaged stuff.

I do attempt new recipes and try to look up new ones online (because I hate cooking the same things over and over again).

I'm not very organized in general, so meal planning is something that just isn't easy for me.

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PeaNut 26,836
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Posted: 2/16/2013 7:18:36 PM
I have learned and continue to learn by trial and error.

I make a conscious effort to teach household skills to my own sons, though, to help them have more success than errors as adults.

Never mind, I forgot what I was going to say.

PeaNut 40,938
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Posted: 2/16/2013 7:25:00 PM
I took Home Ec in my freshman year in HS (1971). I don't remember much except learning how to use a sewing machine and the proper way to file my nails. Both came in handy at one time or another!! I know we did cook in class, but I don't think I retained much of that .

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PeaNut 57,475
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Posted: 2/16/2013 7:52:35 PM

Yep. In my house as part of our allowance, both my brother and I had to cook a dinner each week. We would go shopping with out parents and get what we needed and then we cooked it. We could only do a frozen pizza once a month, so these were real meals liked baked chicken and spaghetti. Also we had to buy something that was on sale or we had coupons for. We always had to have a meat, vegetable and some kind of starch.

What a great idea! I'll keep that in mind for when my kids are a little older.

Honestly, I don't think parents spend enough time teaching their kids life skills. My friends think I'm strange because I require my 7 and 9 y/o's to clean their bathroom and do their own laundry....with limited help.

To answer the OP's question: My mother taught me the basics, but I also learned a lot from cookbooks and cooking shows. I agree...it's not rocket science.


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