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Old 06-10-2016, 01:53 PM   #1
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20 minutes on average are spent preparing dinner

I was watching the excellent documentary mini series on Netflix called Cooked. In it, a food researcher states that the average person only spends 20 minutes preparing the evening meal. Whereas, up until about the 1980's or so, it was at least an hour to an hour and a half task. I definitely remember being anxious to go home and find out what yummy meal mom was fixing for supper!

I was reminded of that fact when I was in the store yesterday at about 2PM picking up some odds and ends. A young housewife was walking around the store with her 5 or 6 year old son.

"Let's go to the frozen food section so mommy can get some ideas for what to cook for dinner" she told her son. So I guess she's going to get some processed frozen junk like a pizza, chicken fingers, french fries, etc.. Besides being bad for you, it's also pricey and doesn't contain too much nutrition.

Granted I don't know the lady's full situation. She might be preparing a well rounded meal and was just thinking about a side dish idea or something. Who knows, she might be a gourmet cook and usually cooks a full meal on most nights. So I am not judging her. Her statement just got me thinking about the "20 minutes preparing the evening meal" factoid.

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Old 06-10-2016, 02:13 PM   #2
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It would be a pretty good guess that mommy usually freezer cooks or was looking for ideas to make herself.
Did she have other groceries in her basket?

Though yes the way most people "cook" nowadays that 20 minutes doesn't surprise me.

My daughter is a twenty minute cook. And 10 of that is waiting for water to boil.
Macaroni and cheese, usually canned meat and maybe peas thrown in.

Now me, I may spend 20 minutes on prep but the cook time is longer.
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Old 06-10-2016, 02:15 PM   #3
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If I didn't have any food prep gadgets I can spend half an hour just chopping and slicing.....
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Old 06-10-2016, 02:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
If I didn't have any food prep gadgets I can spend half an hour just chopping and slicing.....
I am going to spend the afternoon playing with this.
https://www.amazon.com/SHINKODA-SK-2...words=Shinkoda
I love it for chopping.
Clean up is easy too.
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Old 06-10-2016, 02:40 PM   #5
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I don't usually hurry when I'm cooking so the 20 minutes thing would not work for me. However, I often start preparing dinner a 7:00PM for dinner at 7:30. It all depends on what you cook. I seldom use prepared foods.

This is easier to do in the summer when you tend to cook quicker meals. Winter dishes typically take longer a you are slow cooking, braising, roasting, etc.
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Old 06-10-2016, 02:52 PM   #6
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Twenty minutes to prepare the meal? It takes me almost that long just to make PB&J sandwiches.

I'm guessing that the "average" cook does use a lot of convenience foods. I rarely do, unless you count spice blends (homemade or store bought) and jarred specialty sauces like an Asian chili paste. I find the hand chopping and cutting to be therapeutic. And mashing potatoes is the way I blow off anger. Himself knows that if the potatoes are extra-fluffy there is something that is driving me nuts.
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Old 06-10-2016, 03:02 PM   #7
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I find it surprising that 20 minutes is the "average." That means that a lot of people are spending LESS than 20 minutes.

On average, I seem to spend about 45 minutes in the kitchen every night. And that's just cooking for myself. It's time that I enjoy, though.
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Old 06-10-2016, 03:02 PM   #8
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During the week I'm a 20 minute cook. I have left overs of what I've made and frozen on my days off. On may days off I spend as much time in the kitchen as it takes to make what I'm yearning for at the time.
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Old 06-10-2016, 03:19 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Steve Kroll View Post
I find it surprising that 20 minutes is the "average." That means that a lot of people are spending LESS than 20 minutes.

On average, I seem to spend about 45 minutes in the kitchen every night. And that's just cooking for myself. It's time that I enjoy, though.
I think probably that the 20 minutes is the average because a lot of people just stop and buy fast food in the drive thru window, so their food prep time is effectively zero. Then you got all the folks throwing a Red Baron pizza and some Ore-Ida fries or tots in the oven for 20 minutes.

Maybe they're trying to relive their childhood memories of the little pizza squares and tots in the school lunch program.

We were helping a young woman get back on her feet (program at church), and she was blowing through her food stamps in like the first week/week and a half. She only got like $100/month. We drove her to the local store. I noticed she was only picking out processed food like frozen pizzas, Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches, Ore-Ida products, TV dinners, etc..

We tried to suggest that she buy whole foods instead. "I can't cook in my kitchen; I don't have any trash bags or cleaning products." We went there and the kitchen was a mess. She had dirty dishes piled everywhere on the counters and in the sink and had trash everywhere. I threw all the garbage away in a large bag and took it out. Then we helped wash her dishes. She had no pots and pans. I bought her a basic set at Goodwill for $20. Wife taught her to cook basic stuff like a grilled cheese sandwich, how to make a pot of soup, a hamburger, chicken casserole, lasagna, etc.. She grew up in a broken home and was never taught how to cook or clean.

Food knowledge is a given for most of us; it's a shocker when you come across someone who lacks it.
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Old 06-10-2016, 03:27 PM   #10
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Well now let's see this week.
Monday: 10 minutes on prep. Cook time:several hours and 1 minute.
We had messy soft tacos. 10 minutes tops for chopping the lettuce, tomato and onion.
The taco meat was made earlier and frozen. So thawed and put it in a west bend slow cooker. 1 minute was to heat up the tortillas. Oh I forgot 10 minutes to make Spanish rice. It steamed one hour.
Tuesday: Jambalaya. No prep. It had also been made earlier and frozen. It had thawed overnight in the fridge. Used the 6 qt rival crockpot to heat it up.
Wednesday: Pork chops, steamed previously baked potatoes, fried corn, a salad and homemade coconut pudding. Prep time: at least half an hour. Cook time: nearly 2 hours total. The pudding took a good 45 minutes by itself.
Thursday: 0 and 0. Had Furrs.
Today: Not sure yet.
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Old 06-10-2016, 03:46 PM   #11
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All I know is since I married the Sous Chef, everything takes half the amount of time it used to, and I have twice the enjoyment. When I'm asked if I'd like some help, he means it, and understands if I'd rather be alone. Kitchen bliss, to be sure.
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Old 06-10-2016, 07:52 PM   #12
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I'm probably in the 20 minute camp, on average, for active cooking time.

I tend to do my prep work for soups, casseroles, salads and sides early in the day and those items tend to last for more than one day so I can do some scooping and nuking. To fix a steak, burger, fish, etc... only takes a few minutes of actual work. I spend more time washing dishes, wiping off the stove and counters.

I have noticed younger folks that seem stressed and too busy to cook running through the supermarket, while talking on the cell phone, grabbing prepared foods or standing in line at a fast food restaurant and thought to myself that it would be quicker and less hassle to go straight home from work and put together a simple meal. I think the thing that might be missing is a simple plan. I myself would rather be home relaxing and have scrambled eggs with toast or bag salad with a scoop of tuna.
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Old 06-10-2016, 08:49 PM   #13
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I just spent an hour making clam chowder. Dicing salt pork, peeling and dicing three potatoes, slicing and dicing a large onion. Then came the clams. I had cooked them yesterday, so today I emptied their bellies and chopped them. In the meantime the potatoes, salt pork and sautéed onions were on a simmer. I just now added the clams. I still have the milk and pat of butter to add. Hardly 20 minutes. When it cools down it will go into the fridge for tomorrow. Tonight, cream sauce over biscuits, all made from scratch.

I doubt I will ever qualify for 20 minute cook of the year. I don't have one item in my home that can honestly qualify as a convenience food. Unless you would call a small loaf of bread a convenience food. All my meals have to be cooked from scratch. It gives me better control over my diabetes.

There are some things I can no longer do. Kneading dough for pasta or bread is the main thing. But then I very seldom eat pasta. And one or two slices of bread a month are not worth the effort or pain.
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Old 06-10-2016, 09:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayelle View Post
All I know is since I married the Sous Chef, everything takes half the amount of time it used to, and I have twice the enjoyment. When I'm asked if I'd like some help, he means it, and understands if I'd rather be alone. Kitchen bliss, to be sure.
Wow you must be married to a heck of a fella. :) I only started cooking due to the wife developing a horrible spinal problem 2 years ago. Or else, I'd be happy to just set the table and eat. Though I am glad to have picked up some at least basic culinary skills in the last year or so.

I made french toast for breakfast this morning. I never have made it before and was too lazy to look up the recipe, so I assumed it was basically scrambled eggs. So I cracked a couple of eggs and poured some milk into them and whisked them, then dipped some bread into them and fried the bread in a cast iron skillet with some melted butter. Served with powdered sugar and locally produced maple syrup.
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Old 06-10-2016, 09:40 PM   #15
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Yep, that is pretty much French Toast. Next time let the bread soak a bit.

Oh and I don't know where the article got the statistics but we could sure skew the data the other direction.
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Old 06-10-2016, 09:52 PM   #16
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I easily spend 2 hours in the kitchen every day, sometimes 4 hours or more. Usually I'm cooking something that will be ready for or be warmed up for a meal when we need a meal. Yesterday I cooked 10 lbs of chicken, the day before scotch eggs, last week some nut protein chocolate and vanilla candies (no sugar, no flour, low carbs), today I cooked down some radish tops, I have a vegetable curry that takes about 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Sometimes I'm just mixing spices, drying then grinding them, repackaging food, canning food, portioning for the freezer, chopping vegetables, cleaning strawberries/fruit, long cooking meats, making cheese spreads, washing lettuce and celery, assembling a marinated salad, baking for DH.

It's all ready to go so when meal time rolls around, we have lots of choices and none of them take long to get ready (heat up or assemble).
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Old 06-10-2016, 10:00 PM   #17
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20 minutes on average are spent preparing dinner

I have no issue spending more than 20 minutes in the kitchen cooking, and usually do. My problem is I cook for 8, not 2, so we always have plenty of leftovers. My freezer overflows.
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Old 06-10-2016, 10:22 PM   #18
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When I was newly divorced and learning to cook (1990) I had committed to not using prepared foods. On work nights I'd get home late and tired so I had a routine that enabled me to spend no more than an hour in the kitchen for prepping, cooking, eating, cleaning up. This require my doing some extra cooking on the weekends and planning quick meals for the weeknights. It's possible but does require planning.
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Old 06-11-2016, 12:44 AM   #19
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A lot of times with me it's 30 minutes preparing, with oven time extra...sometimes 30 minutes and it's ready to eat. Sometimes it's 10 minutes and it's ready to eat. Depends.
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Old 06-11-2016, 04:38 AM   #20
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Only 20 minutes? Maybe if we had something made ahead from the freezer to just reheat and make a salad.
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