Specifically, I mean the entire process of procuring and preparing food.
DH’s relative’s household is currently having trouble because the wife in the family got brain cancer, had brain surgery (has an amazingly good prognosis, considering) and can no longer do all of the stereotypical wife things that she had been doing. That leaves DH’s relative and remaining 3 kids at home completely helpless when it comes to meals. She did all the menu planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. Since she got sick, they’ve been eating a lot of rice and beans because they’re income limited and that’s all he really knows how to make. He also has to work overtime to pay for everything so it’s not like he has a lot of time and ability to put into the process. He says he’s pretty terrible at it.
He does have three teenage kids at home who are perfectly capable of taking on some of this work. Which my DH suggested.
So with the relative’s permission we sent the kids a copy of our favorite easy to use cookbook for beginners without a lot of money (unfortunately Faster! is out of print) with instructions to double the recipes, along with a giftcard from Walmart (which is their local grocery store) for $100. To give them practice menu planning with a budget. I don’t know if it will do any good, but maybe it will.
I learned how to use grocery circulars for sales, how to build up a pantry, and how to comparison shop at a very young age. My father would take me to the market and show me the process he went through. I learned cooking from both my parents and have a repertoire of both of their weeknight meals. At a slightly older age I took over cooking a few nights a week and once I got a driver’s license I was in charge of a portion of the grocery shopping. (Before then I would occasionally be sent on my bike or by foot to get missing ingredients if necessary.) I experimented with recipes and menu planning during long boring summers.
DH never really learned how to shop or cook until he married me. In college he spent one year on the meal plan and then survived the remaining three years with a combination of eating out at cheap restaurants (usually Schlotzky’s and Pizza Hut) and getting free day-old bagels from the bagel place next door to his dorm. After marriage I showed him how to comparison shop because when you’re living in a city and using public transportation, shopping requires muscle. At first, I did most of the cooking, but one day when he asked me to make (my father’s) chili for him, I realized that that was probably something he should learn to do himself. So I taught him. Then he taught himself more. Then he took a cooking class to get better knife skills. Now he’s a better chef than I am.
We’ve been teaching DC1 to cook, and when I remember I try to show hir how to comparison shop even though we don’t really do that much anymore (we have our favorite brands and can afford them). Being able to eat cheaply is pretty freeing, especially when you’re starting out and so much of your disposable income is going to food.
How did you learn how to procure/prepare food? Do you do it the same way that you learned? If not, what has changed?