Home economics lessons more valuable than ever


One of the things Steven Leake learned at home — and reinforced in home economics — was how to make cookie dough.

Not just to fill their bellies, but to stretch the food budget.

“Mom would make a batch of cookie dough, and we would have cookies,” said Leake, Southwest Institute Culinary Program Coordinator at Southwest Tennessee Community College.

“But we also used the leftovers to make hoecakes and use them in other ways.”

Making basic cookie dough, as well as how to plan a food budget and menus, was once a staple in home economics classes — once a required course in many schools. Now known as family and consumer science in most places, students — including those in Shelby County — are now taking it as an elective.

Such classes could be especially helpful now at a time when the novel coronavirus is forcing people to stay indoors and survive on limited budgets and supplies. Prepared cookie dough sections are sold out at many supermarkets, Leake said.

But, Leake said, many young people are not taking these courses. In fact, enrollment has dropped 38% over the past decade.

And it shows.

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“A lot of students don’t know how to use measuring cups and measuring spoons,” Leake said. “The biggest problem I have is trying to get them to understand that you can’t use a container designed to measure liquids to measure dry ingredients…

“We also spend a lot of time teaching them how to organize a pantry…it’s important so you know what you have, and don’t buy the same things…”

Which is important when a pandemic forces people not to waste.

Still, what Leake sees is not unusual.

In a 2018 National Public Radio report on the demise of home economics classes over the years — largely because they began to be seen as a way to push girls into stereotypical roles — educators in family and consumer sciences lamented the number of young people who lack these basic skills. .

For example, Susan Turgeson, president of the Association for Teacher Educators for Family and Consumer Sciences, said she needs to teach students how to do the dishes. Others need to explain the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon. And others don’t know where certain foods come from.

“I get a lot of college students who go to the grocery store and see boneless chicken breast, and think it actually comes that way,” Leake said.

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Home economics skills are not the only skills that would be useful to young people today.

Many could use the skills offered by industrial arts courses; skills that could help them fix broken household items at a time when repairmen aren’t allowed into apartments and some dwellings to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“I have three teenagers, and they tend to go on YouTube [to learn how to repair items]said Jeffrey Stewart, head of technology at Southwest Tennessee Community College. “But they still don’t know what to do…

“I believe a lot of things are not taught in the classroom.”

So here’s a short list of supplies and necessities for those who missed home economics and shopping classes to get through this coronavirus time without wasting too much money on food and too much time waiting for someone. someone else is fixing something.

Leak :

  • bag of dried beans
  • bag of rice
  • Entire chicken
  • Onions
  • Cabbage
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Frozen or canned vegetables (longer shelf life, more economical)
  • Cooking oil

From Stewart:

  • Eye protection
  • Scotch tape
  • Small stepladder (6 ft)
  • screwdriver set
  • Replacement HVAC Filters
  • Basic keys
  • Hammer
  • Flashlights with batteries
  • small hacksaw
  • Buy towels
  • Facial mask
  • Water stop key for emergency stop
  • pliers
  • toilet plunger
  • Hydroalcoholic gel
  • Drain cleaner

To use the tools, a number of hotlines, such as apartmenttherapy.com, can guide people through repairs. For help with food prep with the basics at your fingertips, hotlines like Food52 exist to help.

You can reach Tonyaa Weathersbee at 901-568-3281, tonyaa.weathersbee@commercialappeal.com or follow her on Twitter: @tonyaajw


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