New research reveals men and young adults the least able when it comes to food and cooking skills

  • Time pressures, fussy eaters and defrosting doubts among the barriers listed.

Tuesday 14 February, 2017. New research* carried out by safefood has measured the state of the nation’s food and cooking skills and has found men and young adults had lower levels of confidence and used less food and cooking skills like planning, cooking in batches or using up leftovers. Among those surveyed for the research, keeping basic food cupboard ingredients and sharing cooking responsibilities were viewed as positive ways to encourage more home cooking, however time pressures and "fussy eaters" were identified as barriers to cooking.

Introducing the research, Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director Human Health & Nutrition, 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 involves 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. Our study 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. We’re not asking people to cook everything from scratch but to include some more fresh ingredients.”

To help people with building confidence in their food and cooking skills, safefood have developed a range of easy "How To" cooking videos which are available on YouTube.

Amanda McCloat, Head of The Home Economics Department at St. Angela's College, Sligo and Research Contributor continued “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 from the research is how people gained confidence from simply trying out a recipe and how we should be encouraging non-cooks to give it a go.”

The report "Cooking and food skills –the current picture” is available to download from the safefood website.

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For more information or to request an interview, please contact


Julie Carroll (m) 086 601 6005 or

Dermot Moriarty (m) 086 381 1034 or press@safefood.eukitchen utensils

Editor’s notes

*The research was led by Queens University Belfast in partnership with Ulster University, St Angela’s College Sligo, City of London University and the University of Surrey.

The research consisted of three phases:

  1. A quantitative consumer survey of 1,049 adults on the island of Ireland to assess their cooking skills and confidence
  2. Qualitative research involving interviews and focus groups with adults to explore their use of cooking skills and;
  3. A practical cooking study using technology in a real kitchen setting

Kitchen cupboard tips

  • Having flavourings like pepper, lemon juice, herbs and spices, curry powder and tomato sauce can bring some flavour quickly to any meal
  • Pre-made cooking sauces in jars are quick, convenient and offer variety and flavour to your mealtimes – aim to use some of the jar of sauce with tinned tomatoes and herbs and spices for a healthier alternative.
  • Choose lower fat options of your favourite sauces for example a low fat pasta sauce or low fat coconut milk for curries.
  • Frozen and tinned vegetables are quick to use and longer life vegetables such as onions are also handy to have