College is supposed to be a place of higher learning that prepares young people for the challenges of taking on a greater role as an adult in a civilized society. While there is no doubt the value of the degrees earned in those hallowed halls, one mom has a striking complaint about it all.
“How can you consider yourself educated and sophisticated if you don”t know how to cook a decent meal?”# asked Hollis Ledbetter, author of OMG! I”m In College and I Never Learned to Cook (www.omgcookbooks.com). “Don”t get me wrong, I”m all for higher education for the purposes of being able to earn a living and contribute to the world around them, but I”ve never seen a college course titled “How to buy groceries, cook dinner and do your own laundry!”#
Ledbetter, a mother of four children (one still in college, the others all have families of their own), sensed the irony of colleges teaching students to become engineers, lawyers and doctors who – without mom”s help – are still likely to burn down the kitchen while trying to boil water.
“Parents and kids need to know a few key things before the adventure of higher education begins,”# she added. “Kids need to learn how to cook and parents need to know how to teach them. Taking a semester of home economics in high school does not equate to knowing how to safely defrost a chicken, carve it, prepare it and cook it so that it actually tastes like something other than shoe leather. It”s one part art and one part science, and they aren”t going to learn either from any class at school.”#
Her tips for parents include:
- Just Teach the Basics – You don”t have to teach your children how to make eggs benedict and how to mix the hollandaise sauce from scratch. Boiling water, broiling meats, making pasta that doesn”t stick to the pot like bathroom caulk – these are the basics. Everything else, they should learn on their own.
- Don”t Coddle Them – You”ll save money and they”ll eat better if you encourage them to buy groceries, instead of eating fast food or PopTarts all the time. Hold the line on the food budget you give them and they”ll hold the line on a good diet.
Her tips for kids include:
- Definition of Cooking – Microwaving a Hot Pocket is not cooking. Cooking involves taking actual vegetables, fruits and meats, and preparing them – either by cooking or mixing – to form a snack or a meal. If all you can do is make pre-packaged macaroni and cheese, and nuke a burrito, that”s not cooking.
- Safety – There is a reason why some foods are refrigerated and why some are not. Learn the difference between the two. I guarantee you don”t want to learn the hard way, when you try to put mayonnaise that was left out all night on a turkey sandwich and wind up in the ER.
- Healthy Foods – Here”s a good reason to eat homemade healthy foods. If you buy groceries instead of eating out all of the time, you”ll not only eat better, but you will save tons of money – money that could be spent on that new smart phone, laptop or tablet you”ve been dreaming about. Overall, in a nine-month period, it is easy for a single person to save between $1,000 and $2,400 simply by NOT eating out.
“There is an old proverb that says, “If you give a man a fish, he”ll eat for a day; if you teach a man to fish, he”ll eat for a lifetime,”# Ledbetter said. “Of course, it stops before they mention if he knows how to cook the darn thing. If you can help encourage your kids to prepare their own meals, they”ll eat healthier and be happy in the kitchen for the rest of their lives. And, I think that”s a more valuable lesson than they”ll ever learn in school.”#
About Hollis Ledbetter
Hollis Ledbetter is married with four children (one still in college) and six grandchildren. She has worked as a fitness instructor for the YMCA teaching aerobics, pre-natal exercises and woman”s strength training. For the last 17 years, she has worked in real estate and for the last four, she has been writing cookbooks.