Home Health Can the UK still cook?

Can the UK still cook?


Have you been forced to dust off your kitchen equipment during lockdown? From banana breads to homemade cocktails and elaborate date night dinners, new trends emerged while supermarket shelves were ransacked. Yet a new study has revealed that many of us are still lacking even the most basic of cooking skills.  

The study by Hammonds, a furniture company with showrooms across the UK, found that one in 50 Brits don’t know how to cook anything at all. Many more reported struggling with the kind of dishes most chefs would dismiss as too simple.

Below we delve deeper into the stats to uncover whether the UK has lost the skill of cooking.   

Does location make a difference?

Are residents in some parts of the country more capable in the kitchen than others? The Hammonds study found that while those in Belfast are a dab hand over a stove, 3% of Brummies can’t cook a single meal. Meanwhile 44% of Mancunians can’t cope with an omelette as the city is left with egg on its face.  

Heading north east, Geordies fare slightly better, with almost a third of those surveyed having mastered the tricky beef wellington.    

Our limited recipe repertoire

While not everyone can be a foodie, there are some dishes that you’d expect most adults to have a handle on. Yet astonishingly a quarter of Brits claim not to know how to make a simple plate of beans on toast.

1 in 2 wouldn’t trust themselves with a pasta bake, while 30% can’t cope with jacket potatoes.  

And while the traditional Sunday roast emerged as our nation’s favourite meal, 40% feel they have to leave the hard work to somebody else.  

Are we cooking fresh food regularly?

The key to learning any new skill is of course, practice. Over time we can become more confident cooking as we grow familiar with new ingredients and techniques. So just how often are we cooking meals at home?

Another survey conducted in 2019 found that 43% of us cook family meals every day, with a further 23% doing so 3-5 times a week. 8% stay out of the kitchen altogether, likely turning to ready meals, meals out and takeaways instead.

Generational differences

The Hammonds study revealed that older Brits appear to be more comfortable in the kitchen than younger generations. Could this be the benefit of experience, or are attitudes towards food changing in modern times?

More than 9 in 10 65+ year-olds are comfortable with simple options like jacket potatoes and scrambled egg. On the other hand, 5% of 18-24 year-olds can’t cook at all – while 60% haven’t yet mastered the humble cheese toastie.  

Everyone learns at a different pace, of course. Perhaps this year’s events will have offered opportunities for more of us to learn how to cook and expand our dining options.

Claire James