Do You Cook Like Your Mother?

by Cate on July 24, 2008

A semi-recent study done by General Mills/Betty Crocker dives deep into how women, particularly in their 20s and 40s cook, and more importantly, if they are cooking like their mothers.  Their findings indicated that women in their 20s were often raised by working moms, so going out to eat, getting take-out and microwave usage was more prevalent than the 40-something group. 

When we were growing up, it seemed like my mom always cooked and although we had the occasional pizza and take-out, it wasn’t a regular thing … and that was still with my mom working for at least part of my childhood.

The study, “How America Cooks II: A Generational Look at Cooking/Baking Differences, 20s vs. 40s,” also took a look at how women are spending their time in the kitchen … are they making things from scratch?  are they making food traditions?  are they doing menu planning?  Their results showed that women born from 1976-1985 were brought up with working moms more, got take-out often and didn’t learn to cook from home.  They were also more likely to eat less meat and fewer vegetables and don’t recall many family traditions that involve food.  Because this group is moving out on their own and focused on their careers, they are seeing cooking as something fun to do, instead of as a chore.  In contrast, the 40-something group that was studied takes less shortcuts and makes more of their food items from scratch.

Although admitting I’m almost in the 40-something age group is something I’m not embracing quite yet, I think, characteristically, I’m somewhere in the middle of the two groups.  Growing up, there were a lot of traditions that involved food, and they make up some of my fondest memories, and these are traditions I’ve tried to keep alive in my own family, in addition to adding our own along the way. 

While I do take shortcuts here and there, I make a considerable amount of food from scratch (Adam Gertler of The Next Food Network star calls it handmade and I love that), but I enjoy the whole process as well.  Some days, yes, cooking is a chore, but not because of the actual aspect of cooking, but more so because of whatever led up to it (i.e., as in the kind of day it was).  I still thinking cooking is fun and am always on the hunt for a spice, dish, recipe or unique party idea.  Consider me a happy hybrid somewhere in the middle.

You can read more about the study right here.  Agree?  Disagree?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah July 24, 2008 at 9:46 pm

My mother — who is in her 40s — hates to cook and takes every shortcut imaginable. Me? I love to cook and like to do everything I can from scratch . . .


Maria July 25, 2008 at 10:42 am

Cooking is a chore for me during the week because I work so many hours, but fun for me on the weekends when I have more time on my hands. I’m 41 and I also fall somewhere in the middle.

The only thing I can remember my mother cooking when I was growing up was lasagna, which she made once a year when the Wizard of Oz aired.


Kris July 25, 2008 at 11:05 am

I just turned 45 and cook nothing like my mother did when I was growing up. I work full-time, she was a stay at home mom. We ate a lot of roasts, pasta was Wednesday and Sunday (my father was italian) and Friday was usually SOS (boxed mac & cheese, tree tavern pizza and tuna fish). We rarely ate out and when we did we went to Star Tavern in Orange, NJ for pizza and hot roast beef sandwiches.

We have cut down on our eating out, but my meals are usually quick and easy. Grilled chicken, tacos, recipes from here and Pioneer Woman, and in the fall I use my crockpot a lot.

I do, however, love to bake – and that’s from scratch.


Amanda July 25, 2008 at 12:27 pm

I’m 25 (well, as of Aug. 5th), and I know I’m an anomaly among my peers. I make virtually everything from scratch–and I love it.

My mom was a working mom (a bit older than my friends’ moms, though, as she was 32 when she had me; she was born in ’51) and she, too, cooked(s) everything from scratch.

We’re just not “shortcut” sort of people, I guess :)


Snarkmeister July 25, 2008 at 1:38 pm

I think it also has a lot to do with what stage you’re at in life. A 20-something is usually single, childless, and spends a good deal of time and money on socializing: going out to dinner, clubbing, bar-hopping, etc. A 40-something, on the other hand, usually is more focused on family life than partying; she’s got a husband, kids, a well-established career, etc. I’m 34, but I’ve got a fiance, a 9 yr old son and a 10 yr old almost-stepdaughter to feed. I admit that when it was just me & my son, I relied a lot more on frozen convenience foods, but now I cook from scratch regularly, and we sit down at the table and eat dinner together most of the time.


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