A new survey commissioned by Tesco into Brits' cooking habits has found the humble Chinese stir fry is the most well-known dish people know how to cook from scratch, with 81% of people knowing how to cook one without having to resort to a recipe book.
Spaghetti Bolognese came a close second with 80% knowing how to cook the Italian classic, while 77% of people can cook a traditional Sunday Roast Dinner unaided, bringing the British favourite home in third place.
The survey was commissioned to launch a new online cooking series, Let's Cookalong, delivered by the Tesco Eat Happy Project in partnership with the Children's Food Trust. The research, conducted with 2,000 people around the country, looked into aspects of our kitchen habits from the recipes we do and don't feel confident cooking from scratch, to how we learn new recipes, what inspires us and how our children are learning to cook.
The research found more than half of UK adults (54%) have committed just five or fewer recipes to memory and a similar proportion (51%) say they roll these out on a weekly basis, if not more often. As many as one in eight would not be confident cooking an omelette without consulting a recipe, while almost a third (31%) cook a new recipe just once a year or less frequently.
Let's Cookalong will help boost the culinary knowledge of parents and children throughout the summer as new videos are added to YouTube each week. Parents and their children will be able to follow a chef cook a variety of child-friendly recipes and meal ideas, starting with picnic-themed recipes and moving on to Moroccan, BBQ and Indian in the coming weeks.
Josh Hardie, Group CR Director at Tesco, speaking on behalf of the Eat Happy Project said:
"We know families around the country love to cook together, which is really important because if children grow up learning to cook and eat healthily, its helps them go on to lead healthier lives.
"Trying a new recipe can seem daunting but tasty, healthy meals needn't be complicated or need lots of expensive ingredients – this is the inspiration behind our new Let's Cookalong summer series and we want as many families as possible to take part this summer."
Linda Cregan, CEO of the Children's Food Trust said:
"A healthy diet is all about eating lots of different foods – and when children have helped to make a new dish with you, they're far more likely to try it. Cooking together is a brilliant way to add some new favourites to your family's list of go-to meals, which is why we're thrilled to be part of Let's Cookalong. We're looking forward to a summer of great family fun with food."
The top five meals survey respondents said they were confident or very confident cooking without a recipe were:
• Stir Fry (81%)
• Spaghetti Bolognese (80%)
• Sunday roast (77%)
• Cottage/shepherd's pie (74%)
• Beef casserole (68%)
The survey found many of these recipes were passed down from our mothers; half of all women (51%) learned the recipes they do know from their mum, while only one in 20 of us (5%) picked them up from our fathers. This is a trend which looks likely to shift in the future with a third of dads polled (33%) saying they would like their children to learn how to cook from them. It seems that cooking together is becoming a family pastime as a quarter of parents (25%) with children aged between 6 – 10 say they cook together all the time while almost half (49%) do so occasionally.
The survey also revealed the real variety in cooking habits across the UK:
• Almost a third of those from Edinburgh claim to have committed 10 or more recipes to memory, by far the highest proportion of any UK city
• Liverpudlians proved to be the most experimental cooks with 8% saying they cook new recipes every week, higher than the national average of 5%
• Belfast parents are the most diligent at cooking with their children, narrowly beating out Newcastle, with almost one in five saying they do so all the time
• The cooks of Norwich appear to be the most frugal with the highest proportion citing trying to save money as a key inspiration for learning new recipes