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easy dishes

Half of all Americans struggle to cook easy dishes like pancakes, shocking survey 2022

A survey of 2000 adult Americans has shown that more than half struggle to cook easy dishes like pancakes and pizza.

At the same time, amusingly, a majority of the respondents (7 out of 10) claimed to be “natural-born cooks”.

The survey offers an insight into the cooking habits of ordinary Americans, and perhaps goes some way towards explaining why Americans are relying more and more on food prepared outside the home. The pandemic appears to have driven more and more people to consume takeout food, with serious negative health consequences.

It’s already well established that increasing your reliance on food prepared outside the home increases your risk of all-cause mortality.

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Half of Americans struggle to cook easy dishes: shocking new survey

The survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Idahoan Foods — the maker of Honest Earth brand mashed sweet potatoes — found that more than a quarter of respondents think dinner is the most challenging meal to make (28%).

Top ten easy dishes Americans can’t make properly, according to the survey

1 Pancakes (38%)
2 Eggs (36%)
3 Pasta (35%)
4 Mac and cheese (33%)
5 Soup (31%)
6 Sweet potatoes (30%)
7 Mashed potatoes (30%)
8 Rice (27%)
9 Grilled chicken (21%)
10 Fish (19%)

On average, according to the survey, a person will attempt to make a dish four times before either getting it right or giving up.

And getting a dish can be very discouraging. Half of respondents say they’ve messed up dishes recipe so many times that they feel like they’ll never be able to master them.

Almost 60% feel embarrassed about not cooking certain foods the right way (59%).

It’s not a wonder, then, that three-quarters of respondents are always looking for time-saving shortcuts in the kitchen (74%), and a similar number would happily purchase a ready-made item to help cook a dish more easily (75%).

Respondents also listed the top cooking “sins” to be avoided in the kitchen. In first place, more than a quarter (28%) believe burning a dish is the highest food crime.

Other unforgivable kitchen sins include undercooking a dish (17%), using the wrong ingredients (16%), and overcooking (14%). But just seven percent of the respondents felt over-seasoning a dish was a bad idea.

Sixty-three percent of respondents said they’d appreciate some help in the kitchen, especially from their spouse (27%).

When it comes to get-togethers, 61% admit they would be happy using ready-made products and passing them off as their own to their guests.

Why you’d be better off learning how to cook easy dishes than eating out

Eating out
It’s not even as if dining out is fun any more

A recent study, in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, draws a clear link between regular dining outside the home and an increase in all-cause mortality.

The US Department of Agriculture recently estimated that Americans’ daily energy intake from food from outside the home increased from 17% in 1977-1978 to 34% in 2011-2012. Over that same period, the number of restaurants increased significantly. Whether this increase will continue remains to be seen, as the true cost of the global pandemic, which has already forced 3 million out of hospitality work in the US alone, becomes clearer.

As we note in our dieting bible, Dieting Done Right, which is available from Gumroad, restaurant food is usually far more calorific and less healthy than home-cooked equivalents, for a variety of reasons. One of the principal reasons may be that more fat is used in the cooking of the food, and this may also, depending on the quality of the establishment, be low-quality vegetable oil, which is extremely bad for you.

The study is the first of its kind to rigorously investigate the link between eating out and all-cause mortality.

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The researchers analysed questionnaires completed in face-to-face interviews by 35,084 adults aged 20 years or older, as part of the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey 1999-2014. Respondents answered questions on their dietary habits, including the number of meals they ate that had been prepared away from home.

The study notes that:

“During 291,475 person-years of follow-up, 2,781 deaths occurred, including 511 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 638 death from cancer. After adjustment for age, sex, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, dietary and lifestyle factors, and body mass index, the hazard ratio of mortality among participants who ate meals prepared away from home very frequently (2 meals or more per day) compared with those who seldom ate meals prepared away from home (fewer than 1 meal/wk) was 1.49 (95% CI 1.05 to 2.13) for all-cause mortality, 1.18 (95% CI 0.55 to 2.55) for cardiovascular mortality, and 1.67 (95% CI 0.87 to 3.21) for cancer mortality.” 

‘The take-home message is that frequent consumption of meals prepared away from home may not be a healthy habit. Instead, people should be encouraged to consider preparing more meals at home,’ concluded the researchers.

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