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Tried-and-True Advice for a Modern World: Useful Home Ec Tips

In Canada, home ec was once a mandatory part of Canadian curriculum; it was an opportunity for every student to learn skills that would benefit them in life. Cooking, baking and sewing may seem outdated for today’s younger generation, but the skills learned in home ec can be applied to running a home in any era. Time and money are precious resources for parents in today’s economy and taking time to teach children these skills at home may not be realistic. This is one reason that parents are in favour of bringing home ec back to the classroom, allowing their children to learn these valuable skills.

Nutrition is a hot topic among Canadian health officials who aim to teach kids and parents the benefits of healthy eating. Canadian teenagers may not possess the skills or knowledge of how to cook a nutritious meal for themselves, and therefore, may rely on pre-packaged meals and fast food as the norm. This kind of lifestyle can have a serious impact on the health and finances of Canadian families. Teaching children and teens basic cooking skills will greatly benefit them now and in the future. The best case scenario is that every child or teen has the opportunity to learn these skills in the classroom. Until more schools offer this type of education, here is some basic knowledge children should know:

  • How to stock a pantry. Finding simple ingredients to make a number of nutritious dishes is essential when learning to cook. Stocking a pantry and refrigerator is a good first step. This can also be a good time to teach teens how to shop with a budget and to look for the best quality for your money. Shopping no name or grocery store brands can be a cost-effective way to save on groceries without sacrificing quality.
  • Not all foods are created equal. When shopping and cooking, it’s important to keep nutritional value in mind. Choose healthier choices such as whole grains, natural sweeteners, and high fibre options when creating a meal plan. Referring to Canada’s Food Guide can be a good resource for creating meals that include each food group and follow guidelines for caloric intake.
  • Start small. Begin your cooking journey with a list of easy-to-follow recipes and branch out from there. Once your teen has mastered the basics, they will feel more comfortable adding more complicated dishes. They could even get creative by cooking for their friends, or inviting friends to cook and bake with them.
  • It pays to eat in. Your teen may be preparing to go to college or university. Having basic cooking skills can save them a lot of money and help them avoid debt while eating healthy. Taking a lunch to school or work costs between $2 and $3 compared to the national average of $8.80 for those who buy lunch. Your son or daughter can save time and money by preparing extra food the night before and taking leftovers to school or work the next day.
  • Shop local. Shop fresh. Shop at farmers markets for homegrown, seasonal fruit and veggies. Many fresh fruits and vegetables can be frozen or canned to be used during winter months when they are typically unavailable or more expensive.
  • Start a tradition. Dedicating a day each week or each month to cooking can save lots of money over time. Meals that can be easily stored and frozen such as lasagna, soups or pies can be easily thawed and enjoyed at a later date. This can be a great idea for any budget and especially economical for large families.

Educating kids about meal planning, grocery shopping, proper nutrition, and basic cooking skills has many benefits. Children are learning about and eating healthier foods. They’re also learning valuable money-saving strategies that they can use down the road when they’re on their own.

For families that are facing financial challenges, instituting cost effective practices like creating a grocery budget and bagging your lunches can even turn out to be a smart debt help strategy. Money saved on smarter shopping and cut backs can be redirected towards debt repayment. The bottom line is that these home economic lessons are just as valuable today as when they were first introduced. It’s time to consider bringing back mandatory home ec to our schools.

Join the online conversation about bringing home ec back to the classroom.  #LetsTalkDebt #BDOdebtrelief.

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