Cost of food technology cooking ingredients

(66 Posts)
HerLordship Thu 07-Mar-13 21:10:51

My eldest DD is 14, and is in year 9 at school. She has food technology lessons and cooks on average every other week. I'm all for kids learning cooking skills, but I am getting completely aghast at the sheer cost of ingredients required for recipes.

Tomorrow she has an assessment and is required to make some sort of cake/gateau for which the recipe has been supplied. It involves all kinds of obscure things that we don't have in our cupboards and fridge. DH has just been to Asda to get the ingredients and spent way over a tenner. The quantities required are always enormous too; 800g of mince for a lasagne (I use 250g when I make a lasagne to feed 5 of us, and bulk it out). Whole pints of milk. Big tubs of cream. 800g of chocolate chips. It's not as if the food is particulary edible either; food tech is first thing on a Friday. There is a fridge but it's not big enough for everyone's cooking and sometimes DD lugs it round with her all day. Plus I'm not keen on eating it anyway, as I remember the state of our home ec classroom at school and lack of general cooking hygiene.

IMO children should be taught to cook basics, on a budget. Simple things such as a victoria sponge, scrambled egg on toast, roast potatoes, quiche etc. Things that are staples of an everyday family diet. Not fancy things that have obscure ingredients and cost (and waste) an absolute fortune.

I am thinking of speaking to the food tech teacher about it, as it's costing £10ish per time. We're lucky we can afford it, but I'm assuming if someone is living on a very tight food budget and extra tenner per week or two is going to overstretch them. And it's the principle of the thing too. Kids get a detention too if they don't take all ingredients. DD once got a detention as she didn't take an ingredient but it was a really really bizarre spice and I couldn't find it anywhere so I suggested she substituted it, but no it wasn't good enough. Also if I'd have sent her with, say 500g of minced beef for lasagne, she would have got a detention as it's 800g that was required. I could make about 2 nights' worth of meals with 800g!!

I'm probably being tight, and mean spirited, but it's starting to make me quite resentful. And to top it off DD doesn't even like cooking; she hates it. It just feels like a waste.

Takver Thu 07-Mar-13 21:16:14

I don't think you're being tight at all! I'd use 700 gr of mince for a generous 2 nights dinner for the three of us, and we work outdoors so are big eaters.

I'd email / send a letter making the points you've made (maybe minus the comments on hygiene!) to the teacher, and see what she says.

TheCrackFox Thu 07-Mar-13 21:25:03

I think you have a point.

GetMeOut Thu 07-Mar-13 21:36:00

Absolutely ! Part of knowing how to cook also means working to a budget and avoiding waste - even restaurants and hotels have to that.

Totally agree. Complained on here about having to buy a whole pineapple, mango, strawberries (out of season) for a fruit salad.

You can send the mince in bulked out already, as long as it weighs 700g.

HerLordship Thu 07-Mar-13 21:45:25

I'm glad I'm not being a stinge!

Laurie, that amount of fruit is ridiculous. I swear sometimes schools only have tunnel vision about what they want pupils to do, and don't look at the wider picture.

Leeds2 Thu 07-Mar-13 22:22:11

I would've thought, at the very least, the school could offer to supply "obscure" ingredients at cost.

Sadly, my DD has never done cookery as a timetabled lesson. She did do it for two terms as an afterschool activity, and the teacher provided all the ingredients for which we had to pay. Suited me, tbh.

longingforsomesleep Thu 07-Mar-13 22:57:39

DS's school provide the ingredients. They do this for two reasons: one, because they can be guaranteed everyone will have the ingredients they need for each lesson. Two, because they don't ask pupils to provide materials in any other DT subjects, so don't think they should in Food Tech.

DS2 did Food Tech GCSE and I was absolutely amazed that one of the topics the Food Tech teacher chose was 'luxury deserts'. Not just because I'd rather the focus had been on more useful dishes, but also because he seemed to spend for ever either devising recipes for, or making, cheesecake! And the ingredients for that are quite expensive.

The only occasional expense we had was when he had to make something for homework and photograph it. But then I got to monitor hygiene standards and we could eat it afterwards without it having slopped around in the bottom of a school bag all day!

HerLordship Fri 08-Mar-13 07:20:45

I've just helped DD sort the ingredients out,weighing everything (yep they get detention if things aren't pre weighed too, so they are assuming every home has scales, which some don't I'm sure), and it all weighs a ton. There must be 15 different ingredients there, including a whopping 6 eggs! I could feed all 5 of us for a main meal using a box of 6 eggs!

I've now got to take DD in by car as there is lots of waiting around at bus stops, she will have to stand on the bus journey probably holding the bag as there'll be no room to put it on the floor, plus she has a walk from the bus stop to school, and it's pretty heavy. I would struggle to carry it any distance. Plus she has her usual books and other gear.

So not only financially inconvenienced but inconvenienced in that I have to spend my valuable time taking her into school today, all because some jumped-up teacher wants them to make the world's expensive gateau! I guarantee it won't be edible when DD gets home either as it's having fresh cream as a topping/filling, and DD rarely is able to have any fridge space for her stuff so carts it round all day.

happygardening Fri 08-Mar-13 07:25:20

My DS1 does food tech GCSE it's nearly driven me mad. I love the fact that he's learnt to cook a whole variety of things but the ingredients are ridiculous and the weight of it carrying it to school. He lost marks once for not having a cake stand and we'reexpected to provide flowers a vase and table cloth. One lesson he carried two big bags of ingredients. I too have a cupboard full of things that I removed 1 teaspoon from and I like cooking! One week we had to provide breast of lamb with the bone left in which many struggled to find. I put the food in those plastic boxes with clips on and he never brings them back.
As I said he's learnt a lot and is now a brilliant cook but it's been a pain in the neck organising it.

At ds1 school, we pay a contribution at the beginning of term, £25. The school then provide all the ingredients.
If they want to add things into a basic recipie, like decorate a cake or whatever, they have to provide that.
It makes much more sense to me.

But we never get to eat much of it as FT is first period and like the OP, there isn't enough fridge space.

£10 for ingrdients every lesson is ridiculous. Insure that throws out a lot of people's weekly budgets and meal plans.

Bunbaker Fri 08-Mar-13 07:34:52

"so they are assuming every home has scales,"

Oh, come on. Everyone has scales surely? They aren't exactly a luxury item like a Kitchen Aid. When I did Home Economics as it was called way back we used to have to bring in pre-weighed ingredients. I don't think that is a big ask.

However, I do think the quantities are ridiculously large. What are the obscure ingredients?

HerLordship Fri 08-Mar-13 07:39:44

I'm going to give the school a call this morning and ask for the teacher to call me back. If the syllabus says they must make a cake, for example, surely there is a budget cake they could make, or at least one that is cheaper than £12 or £13 to make. I feel the school are being really cheeky and presumptive in expecting everyone to provide the ingredients.

happy, how annoying about having to provide the cake stand, tablecloth etc. Schools are just taking the pee! I wouldn't mind providing the ingredients as much if DD was taking it for GCSE, as it would feel a worthwhile expense, but seeing as DD isn't taking it in year 10, and dislikes the lesson, and much as I hate to say it, doesn't actually cook very well, it just seems such a hideous, costly waste.

HerLordship Fri 08-Mar-13 07:45:02

Just things like cherry syrup, Bunbaker. Plus things that we just don't normally buy as a family, such as a large tub of double cream. We never eat cream so it's not like we have a tub sitting around! I don't generally bake, so don't have much baking stuff in the cupboard beyond basic baking ingredients.

I know of one family that didn't have scales. They did go and buy some. I agree most families have them. We have them. But not everyone bakes. Some people only cook freezer food for their children. I just think that the scales thing, coupled with the costs, coupled with having to hunt round for obscure stuff, and adding on the fact I've got to take DD into school, and the fact that the cake will also be wasted is a bit much really.

Iheartpasties Fri 08-Mar-13 07:52:12

I can't disagree with you at all. Not everyone will have scales, and enough tuperware or ziplock bags or whatnot to transport the ingredients. A costly gateaux is just completely unnecessary!! You have my sympathies. And a detention for missing spices that are hard to source - surely that massively penalises students with parents that simply cannot afford the ingredients! In my day I'm sure kids would be told to skive off by parents who couldn't provide the ingredients.

Iheartpasties Fri 08-Mar-13 07:53:25

cross posted!

miggy Fri 08-Mar-13 07:56:35

Cherry syrup? I bake loads and wouldnt have that in the cupboard!
No, its quite ridiculous and a scandal to waste all that food.
They could easily work in little groups if making moe expensive items with each child just taking a few ingredients surely? Then they could sit down and eat it perhaps.
Recipes sound ridiculous too, if they learnt something like a nice chocolate cake, they could wheel that out at home to make for birthdays etc, no sane person is going to homebake a gateau with 6 eggs and cherry syrup.
Seems pretty souless cooking stuff that you know will be binned, one way to put kids off cooking for life.

princesssugar Fri 08-Mar-13 08:18:04

I have posted on here before as i am a food teacher but to be honest i would complain about the above. There is nothing that says you have to cook in gigantic portions. When i teach my year 9's to do lasagne we use 50-75g of meat. We also provide all ingredients at a cost of £7.50 per year at key stage 3. This means we can buy in bulk and get it cheaper. I wouldnt use 800g of mince at home i use about 250g.

I think there are 2 issues with ft in school.1) the varous governments have tw*tted about with it for so any years, ( its in the curriculum, its out of the curriculum, we are recruiting teachers, we dont need teachers etc) that alot of school dont have qualifed food teachers. Now it is easy to cook if you know how, it is not easy to teach 30 kids how to do it. This is where you get stupid recipes and inappropriate products. The teacher should know how to reduce the recipe to suit the class.

The other problem is budgets. Food cost have risen massively over the last few years. Our departments budget has gone down. Ft department need funding properly so we can teach the children to cook on a budget and give them skills to help them in the future. This is also usually he reason why there Is not enough fridge space.

Op i would definately ask for an explanation on why they need so many ingredients and why they are not stored correctly

Oh and i have never used cherry syrup through a 4 year degree, 1 year pgce and 6 years of teaching!

Bunbaker Fri 08-Mar-13 08:20:28

I wouldn't know where to find cherry syrup either and we don't eat cream. That cake sounds hugely expensive. Is it Black Forest cherry gateau?

We were expected to provide ingredients for cookery at school though (in the 1970s) I would expect this to be the case as I think it is unrealistic to expect a school to fund food for a family meal - or cake in this case. If they are meant to be teaching baking why can't they just do a Victoria sandwich?

When DD was doing DT the school would provide some of the ingredients (which we had to pay for) and DD had to bring some in, but she made realistic things like bread, shortbread, fairy cakes etc, but she is in year 8. Perhaps they up the ante in year 9.

I would definitely complain to the school, especially as they are being so draconian about the ingredients. Giving detentions out for the wrong ingredients discriminates against families living on a budget and shouldn't be allowed.

HerLordship Fri 08-Mar-13 08:20:29

I've just phoned the school and the food tech teacher is going to phone me back later to discuss it.

HerLordship Fri 08-Mar-13 08:27:56

Bunbaker, yes it's a black forest cherry gateau type thing, although it had some fancy name, I can't remember what it was now, and DD has taken the recipe sheet into school with her.

Even in years 7 and 8 it was always really weird recipes; never any basic stuff. I would love it if they would teach her to cook things like pasta sauce, homemade soup, fairy cakes etc.

princesssugar Fri 08-Mar-13 08:39:35

Oh let us know what they say.

You'd love our school, basics is all they get. I have some high hope of kids coming to school and telling me they had cooked something for their tea, rather than having kebab meat and chips which seems to be the staple in our school.

jojane Fri 08-Mar-13 08:45:28

I think paying the school to provide the ingredients seems the best idea - ie 1 teaspoon of cherry syrup needed (cue 30 parents rushing out to local shop who probably only stocks 10 bottles due to low demand anyway!!) but if teacher provided it then only a couple of bottles would be needed reducing overall cost.

Meglet Fri 08-Mar-13 08:52:33

Six eggs!! Cherry syrup!!

Maybe the teacher thinks they are some kind of Heston Blumenthal with all these fancy ingredients confused.

Takver Fri 08-Mar-13 09:16:48

Good luck. I date from the era of cheese and potato pie and rock cakes - cheap, filling and the sort of thing kids are actually likely to make again at home.

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