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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 Fri 08-Mar-13 09:17:26

Princesssugar, you sound like a great FT teacher smile

GetMeOut Fri 08-Mar-13 09:25:46

Takver- fantastic memories of those too! That's what we should be teaching children - cheaper and more nutritious then horsemeat ready meals smile

BrianButterfield Fri 08-Mar-13 09:30:00

I don't know how the teacher knows if she brings 500g of mince instead of 800g and I speak as a secondary teacher myself! I'd do a quick squizz round the room to check everyone had roughly the right stuff and let them get on with it - after all, with something like a lasagne it doesn't matter too much if ingredients are 100% to the recipe. It'd take ages to weigh and check everyone's stuff.

This sounds ridiculous. We are on a budget and if one of the DDs needed cherry syrup it just wouldnt be possible!

When I was in school we made carrot cake, chilli with quorn, and boiled eggs. I am sure we made other things but I cant remember.

Making ridiculous, overcomplicated gateaux is only going to alienate children from cooking.

mamapants Fri 08-Mar-13 09:44:05

Going slightly against the grain here but I would be a bit disappointed if my child was being taught to make victoria sponge in school. Surely at age 14 that would be pretty boring and not worthy of a lesson. I used to get so bored in cookery class having to make scones and rock cakes.

Also could your child and friends not take the initiative of sharing items such as cherry syrup.

Takver Fri 08-Mar-13 09:53:41

mamapants - I disagree. My feeling is that (assuming the school isn't able to set, which I doubt is likely) yr 7-9 cookery ought to be about getting the children who can't cook at all up to a basic standard.

A bit like school swimming lessons, they're not for the dc who can already swim well, they're about getting everyone to swim enough, IYKWIM.

I know plenty of adults who can't make a victoria sponge (and only realise the need when they want to make a birthday cake for their dc!)

Bunbaker Fri 08-Mar-13 10:24:42

I agree Takver. When DD was making fairy cakes only her and one of her friends knew what they were doing as DD bakes at home with me and her friend bakes entirely on her own. None of the others knew what they were doing.

I think it is essential that all children should be taught to cook basic and simple nutritional meals from scratch. I realise that time is an issue at school so it has to be something that can be cooked and cleared up afterwards inside an hour.

I learnt how to cook properly at school and at home. It is a shame that so many adults can't cook a basic meal and I'm sure it was because they have never been taught how to.

If Home Economics/Food and Nutrition/Food Technology - call it what you will could be a more academic subject like the old O level was, and if it wasn't regarded as a soft option, perhaps the take up of the subject would be better. We didn't just learn how to cook, we had to learn about the nutritional content of foods as well.

Lomaamina Fri 08-Mar-13 10:53:24

I am totally in agreement that this is a ridiculous state of affairs. I'm really sympathetic about your having to transport your DC too. Not everyone has the flexibility to be able to do so, work wise.

We were so relieved when DS entered year 10 and didn't have to take part in this waste of money. I wrote quite a long letter about this to the school: about what a bad lesson it is for the pupils to see food being wasted, asking why they couldn't bulk buy things like flour and eggs, which are so difficult to transport, but basically got fobbed off. They don't learn to budget, to substitute alternatives if the ingredient required by the recipe isn't there and so on. Things improved slightly when they allowed him to club together with a friend so that they alternated buying ingredients, but still the wastage remained and the ceremony of taking the carefully transported steaming-food-in-a-plastic-container that was a veritable health hazard and dumping it straight in the rubbish continued throughout the years he took the subject.

I have to say though that we never reached the heights of absurdity of having to bring in cherry syrup. I've been home baking for 30+ years, have a store cupboard full of weird and wonderful ingredients, but never have I even encountered this as an ingredient. As some suggested above, this could be a learning opportunity of how to adapt a recipe: if they have to make black forest gateau, why not get them to buy cheap tinned cherries and boil down their sugar water to make a syrup themselves?

Fuming on your behalf, as you can see!

mamapants Fri 08-Mar-13 10:57:58

Point taken but agree it is very sad.
By year 9 when I was in school we were given a brief and allowed to choose the recipe- so a healthy vegetarian meal, a cake, a salad etc. This meant we were looking at nutrition, timing constraints, budget etc and the more adventurous could cook something more demanding. This was quite a good way of doing it.

princesssugar Fri 08-Mar-13 10:59:20

We do teach nutritional content or should do anyway. Problem is food technology was put as part of design technology where is doesnt seem to fit. Repeated designing and making of the same product, drawing endless pictures of said product. It is boring and unnecessary and thankfully we re moving away from that now.

To me it fits in science more as it used to be domestic science and pupils should be taught functions of the ingredients, nutritional qualities and also where the food comes from, all of which woud fit in science.

mamapants you would be surprised how many pupils have no idea how to make a victoria sponge cake withut resorting to a packet mix full of crap. Lots of parents dont have time to teach their kids how to cook ( or dont know themselves) abasic victoria sponge leads to development of different cakes, basic kitchen skills, decorating techniques, functions of ingredients and adapting the recipe to make to make it healthier

takver thank you! Im on maternity leave so its easy to sound good when i am sat in front of the tv

Bunbaker Fri 08-Mar-13 11:03:24

"To me it fits in science more as it used to be domestic science and pupils should be taught functions of the ingredients, nutritional qualities and also where the food comes from, all of which woud fit in science."

I agree. I did A level home economics and we had to do scientific experiments, learn about the molecular structure of proteins and other complicated stuff.

mamapants Fri 08-Mar-13 11:08:05

Actually thinking about it one of my colleagues uses a batter mix to make pancakes what's that all about?
Not that hard to find a recipe on internet surely.

Bunbaker Fri 08-Mar-13 11:13:54

What do they add to the mix to make pancakes? Some "mixes" say add eggs and milk, which is ridiculous as pancakes are only made with eggs, milk and flour anyway.

prettybird Fri 08-Mar-13 11:21:39

Ds is in S1 (=Y7) and all we have to do is pay £10 towards the cost of ingredients per session (think they will have 3 sessions of Home Ec this year - it alternates with Technical Drawing). If they need a dish to bake something in or to take home (as opposed to bringing in something themselves; ds remembers to take in a plastic container each week), there's an extra charge of 10p.

Occasionally they are asked to bring in their own ingredients - but only when it is their "selection". For example, yesterday he took in a couple of sheets of lettuce and his cooking buddy took in some rocket and cheese, as that was their choice of "extras" in the burgers that they were making.

I don't know if the cost will go up next year and the year after if he continues, but I doubt it or if it does, it'll only be a small amount more as the school is very conscious that some people don't have much spare cash (and even has an "Achievement Fund" to help ensure that no-one misses out on education or experiences because their family can't afford it).

Poundpup Fri 08-Mar-13 11:30:56

I think that Food techology is improtant but I know that it is not chosen by most children as an option subject. I would like to see this become part of PSHE and a portion of each year is dedicated to cooking. I don't mean useless things like raisin coleslaw but all the basics and I would like to see budgeting as part of the lesson.

OP, hope you have a good outcome with the school because clearly, someone is taking the mick. Those portion sizes are way out of control. Maybe they could partner each child up so no one spends more than a fiver on ingredients. Most people could cobble this amount together once a fortnight.

CalamityJan Fri 08-Mar-13 12:16:49

DC's Yr 7 pizza cost about 3 times the amount I would spend making it at home. Ditto the brownies.

800g of chocolate chips? That's bonkers.

Theas18 Fri 08-Mar-13 12:20:21

Posted exact same thread ? in SEptember about a bloody Thai chicken curry that cost £12 for ingredients . Apparently they "could hae organised to share" but DD didn't realise this ( she's a bit of an control freak and I bet she didn't want to risk her cookery on someone else getting the stuff either LOL- It has failed before).

THat was £12 for chicken breasts/thai paste/coconut milk/fine beans/spring onions etc and made a " curry" that DD2 and DS ate as a snack angry

that's knocking on for 1/5 of my usual super market week shop money!

HerLordship Fri 08-Mar-13 12:22:23

School phoned back earlier, well the receptionist did, and said the teacher will be too busy to speak to me today but I can try to call her on Monday if I want to. Looks like it'll be that then.

HerLordship Fri 08-Mar-13 12:23:35

Theas, that's ridiculous about the Thai curry. I think schools think we are made of money

I will be glad when DD is in year 10 and doesn't have to take part in cookery lessons again.

nickstmoritz Fri 08-Mar-13 13:43:35

Must admit I recently binned DD2s maccaroni cheese which had been decanted into a plastic box and lugged around all day..yuk! As they were making it before lunch why not then eat it for lunch straight away while it was hot? I agree with the cost of ingredients sometimes being silly too but just as annoying - DD1s school food tech lessons were always copying notes on hygiene off the board because the teacher was busy and her one practical involved bringing in a ready meal to heat up in a microwave. Good grief!

princesssugar Fri 08-Mar-13 16:05:58

Herlordship - the teacher is too busy??!? I didnt realise i could get away with that as an excuse! Damn it all these years of staying till 5 to speak to parents. Seriously though that seems a bit rude to me.

The thai curry takes the piss, i think i said that at the time. Mental. Admittedly i work in a difficult area and i would get laughed at if i sent home a list including thai curry paste. We only ask kids to bring in optionals e.g. Chocolate if we are doing cakes or biscuits, chicken if we are doing veg curry.even then i have had a parent complain because her daughter asked her for a banana " what do i want to buy bananas for?"

I think i need to change pupils a list of ingredients and having them bring it in would be lovely.......

hippoCritt Fri 08-Mar-13 16:12:52

I think you should email a request to speak to teacher by x day and refer to what you have been told today, how rude!

Bunbaker Fri 08-Mar-13 16:21:19

"and all we have to do is pay £10 towards the cost of ingredients per session"

£10 per lession shock. Are they taking the mick? When DD made apple crumble she took in the apple and had to pay 60p for the other ingredients.

Naoko Fri 08-Mar-13 16:27:14

800g chocolate chips?! I'm an enthusiastic baker, I bake cakes that work out quite expensively sometimes (for fun. I consider it a leisure expense), and I have never seen anything that required quite that many chocolate chips, or indeed that much chocolate, unless it was for an absolutely enormous cake. Don't have any cherry syrup lying about the place either.

It's madness. I bet they're wanting the chocolate chips for melting too, rather than stirring into batter (so they'll keep their shape), in which case there is really no excuse for not using bars of chocolate instead, which would be much cheaper. Alright, chips melt more evenly, but that's not a good enough excuse for the additional expense. If I were making a cake for a special occasion, I'd spring for high quality cooking chocolate, and maybe for the chips instead of bars. A school food tech lesson? Not a chance.

Blu Fri 08-Mar-13 16:31:56

DS's ingredients for next week include '2 scoops of ice cream'.
Any suggestions as to how I send that in?

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