Written May 11, 2012     

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Note: Comments of readers are their own and do not reflect the feelings of Bob Lonsberry or lonsberry.com.

64 Responses to:

# 1. 5/11/12 6:47 AM by Booth - Canisteo
Home ec is a required class for all 6th graders in the Canisteo school district. Our son took it and our daughter is in it now. They learn laundry basics, how to balance a checkbook, sewing, and cooking.

# 2. 5/11/12 6:56 AM by Rick G. - Spencerport, NY
After that, bring back dodgeball.

# 3. 5/11/12 7:02 AM
Dude, are you f ing nuts? Instead, I would offer a class, how to get a freeking job. When I was 16 I washed pots and pans for 12 hours straight. From 1pm-1am, when I went home, I was wet and smelled like a bin of tomato sauce. I also cleaned bird crap off picnic tables at Ellison Park in the humid 90 degree weather, and let's not forget the toilets I scrubbed as well.

# 4. 5/11/12 7:16 AM by Poplar Beach
There is a country store in Seneca Falls, one of many in the area. They buy in bulk and repackage in smaller containers for sale. Prices are much lower than the same prepackaged products in regular grocery stores. An added bonus, they sell much that is locally produced and almost exclusively made in America.

When I go there they are always busy, but I hardly ever see folks under 50 and can not remember the last time I saw someone of color shopping there.

This column is a good and timely one, Bob.

# 5. 5/11/12 7:37 AM by pdd - Churchville, NY
It's not called Home Ec where my kids attend. It's FACS (Family and Consumer Science), and everyone is required to take that class. They basically learn the same things we did years ago, but the difference is the boys learn to sew and cook, too. When I took Home Ec in school the boys were down the hall in Shop class using power tools.

# 6. 5/11/12 7:43 AM by Matt - Rochester, NY
You are right on this one Bob. When I was in school in the 80's we HAD to take Home Economics----boys and girls! Everyone loved that class too! It is very frustrating when I go to the grocery store to see all these welfare recipients with overflowing shopping carts of pre-made food, junk food, twinkies, sugar cereal, etc. etc. Nothing that one would actually have to cook or prepare. I am starting to think I could eat better if I was on welfare. Hmmmmmm. Either way, Home Ec was a great class, and both the boys and girls loved it. We all can make pizza from scratch and sew a small pillow now thanks to our Home Ec class back in the 80's!!

# 7. 5/11/12 7:46 AM by tom - penfield, ny
Sounds like hard work. I just drive through and get a burger on the way to the liquor store. I might burn myself on a frying pan if I do what you say.

# 8. 5/11/12 7:46 AM by Scott - Henrietta, New York
I have two comments for today's column.

1. Food Stamps. Since people on food stamps use a swipe card, not actual stamps, program the cards so the recipients can only buy fresh wholesome food. Bread, fresh fruit, milk, meats and so on, not chips, candy, and twinkies. I'm not saying that welfare recipients can't buy junk food. I'm just recommending they can't use our taxes to ruin their health so more of our tax dollars have to be used to pay for their medical care.

2. Home Economics. This should be mandatory for boys and girls. Probably it should be renamed "Life 101". Expand it to include everyday subjects such as Auto Maintenance, How to Maintain a Checkbook, and Basic First Aid.

# 9. 5/11/12 7:47 AM by Kevin - Wake Forest, NC
thumbsup.gif As a overweight 36 year old man I sit hear eating my frozen waffles for breakfast I do wish that I had the opportunity to take Home Etc. in High School. It certainly would have benefited me and I think many others.

# 10. 5/11/12 8:04 AM
I'm all for teaching "basic" life skills. It makes little sense not to teach such things. Education isn't only suppose to be about what corporations need in their employees. The employees hame homes and should be taught at least the basics of managing that home.

# 11. 5/11/12 8:15 AM by Christopher - Newport News, VA
You weren't going to catch any guys taking home ec in HS. So they had a class like home ec called Chef's Science. Oh yeah, and I took typing also. I still use these skills and I can only imagine how much time and money they have saved me.

# 12. 5/11/12 8:34 AM by Jim - Rochester
Jim s heart healthy, nutrition packed, and TASTY beans and rice mix.

1 cup brown rice (Not the pre cooked kind)

1/2 cup lentils (the dry non pre cooked kind)

1/2 cup chopped almonds (Wegmans bulk food)

2 1/2 cups water.

Throw it all in a pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 min

IF you want to dress it up add 1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit.

Serves 3-4 as a main dish, 5-6 as a side.

If you live alone as I do eat about 1/2 cup as a side dish and refrigerate the rest -- To reheat put about 1/2 cup and a little water in a dish, and nuke it for 90 seconds to warm it up.

IF you need a little sweetener, top it with low sugar pancake sirup. (in moderation)

# 13. 5/11/12 8:37 AM by RC - Bloomington
Funny that my Home Ec class from 1983 has been used more in my life than any other class I took that year.

Personal hygiene. * Proper Teeth Brushing * Hair Care * Nail Care * Shaving

Skills * Reading a recipe * Cooking * Sewing * Reading a pattern

Required of all boys and girls. Of course to be fair girls had to take Shop as well.

# 14. 5/11/12 8:49 AM by Cal - Rochester, NY
thumbsup.gif Bob.

I had a large family with 5 children to support. No EC in school.

Here are ways I used to save a buck. Have a garden and freeze what we didn`t eat, especially corn which is real delicious home style. Have a wife who is a great cook and homemaker. Bunch deductable spending every other year for tax savings. Don`t drink or smoke. Take family to church to learn Christian values. Shop sales to stock up on food and other items. Use coupons. Now can use a computer to balance a checkbook. Keep good credit and don`t live beyond your means. Have a good car with good gas miliage and stick shift for better miliage yet. Use cheap deturgent and let cloths dry outside or even inside with bad weather. Try to have a good investment plan. Made lots with investing in gold and silver. Keep interviewing for a better job. Have a wife that you can trust. Depend on God with lots of prayer. And teach your kids the same values. Smart kids help! I could go on with many other ways to save. People will think our income is much higher because we have more than most others with all these savings! Yes, it is a challennge, but worth it! It also can be fun.

# 15. 5/11/12 8:55 AM by Pamela Lee - San Diego
thumbsup.gif Some things I'd like to see taught:

1. How to cut up a whole raw chicken and how to butcher other meats and fish. 2. How to shop for coupons and bargains 3. How to grow some vegetables - tomatoes, peppers, onions etc and compost 4. Basic kitchen skills: How to measure, how to test for doneness, how to clean and sanitize. 5. Basic kitchen tools: sifter, pastry cutter, the different knives and measuring spoons 6. How to preserve food: pickling, canning, freezing, dehydrating.

Sorta Home Ec Advanced if you will.

# 16. 5/11/12 8:57 AM by Roger - Fairport, NY
thumbsup.gif I think this would be good, but 6th & 7th graders are too young. It should be a mandatory class for 11th or 12th graders - closer to when they will be out on their own and might remember the skills better. And teach them about all kinds of taxes, too!

# 17. 5/11/12 9:01 AM
Who is this "we"?

# 18. 5/11/12 9:07 AM by School Tax Payer
Way back in the Dark Ages when I went to a rural high school we also had an Ag(riculture) class for the boys who were going to be good farmers and grow the healthy food that the Home Ec girls would cook for their families. And some of these young people went on to Cornell to further their education in these fields and became successful teachers and business people.

Haven't heard anything lately about these classes. Maybe they have a more "uppity" name in some educational institutions..

# 19. 5/11/12 9:07 AM
But Bob. The food-insecure live in food deserts.

Editor's Note: that's what obama said

# 20. 5/11/12 9:23 AM by Hi - Rochester
thumbsup.gif Activists say that it costs more money to eat healthy.

But the truth is exactly the opposite. Wholesome, nutritious food, made from scratch at home, is the least-expensive way to eat and the most healthful.

As James Brown might have put it: "Right on, right on."

# 21. 5/11/12 9:27 AM by Margaret - Rochester, NY
thumbsup.gif Bob: Good article... and what about basic sewing? So glad I learned how to sew also. When I was growing up, if I wanted a new outfit,I had to make it and with pride! No one else had the same dress, skirt or coat. And these young women today can't even sew a valance or a pillow for their homes... too easy to go to the store and buy it. And forget about knitting or crocheting a blanket! Basic cooking is so simple... get off the texting on your phone and do something with pride. Mothers and Grandmas ,,,do something constructive with your kids this weekend and I don't mean shopping at the Mall!!!

# 22. 5/11/12 9:35 AM by DD
Vegetable Beef Soup (feeds 6 - 8.) You can use more or less of any ingredient. You won't screw up this soup. If you love potatoes, add more. If you hate carrots, leave them out.

One large can of whole, peeled tomatoes.

Three potatoes, peeled and cut into small bite-sized chunks.

Three carrots, peeled and sliced

Three or four stalks of celery (no leaves, they are bitter), washed and sliced. Celery adds a lot of flavor. It will cook down, so don't be afraid to add lots.

Two large onions, peeled and sliced thin.

One or two beef bouillon cubes to add flavor (if you have them).

Salt and pepper to taste.

If you have raw beef, cut 1/2 pound into small bite-sized chunks. It isn't necessary to fry the beef first.

If you have mushrooms, wash and slice them. Use can also use a small can of mushrooms.

Toss in any leftover vegetables (green beans, broccoli, etc). Use corn sparingly. It is very sweet.

To a very large stock pot, pour in canned tomatoes. Crush them with your fingers (or use diced tomatoes instead). Don't pulverize. Leave pieces of tomato that you can bite into. Using the empty tomato can, pour in five cans of water. (You can add more later if it needs it.)

Add other ingredients to the pot. Put pot on stove, cover and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer while covered for two hours or until vegetables or soft.

Serve with crackers or bread.

# 23. 5/11/12 9:38 AM by alexander - upstate ny usa
I can run a sewing machine, learned it at school. made my kids cowboy/girl outfits some years ago. yes, i sewed two sets of chaps.

i'm 100% man, well except for that small procedure dr. stopp performed on me.

# 24. 5/11/12 9:43 AM by cam
were no boys in home economics in my jr high - we learned how to make pizza and set the table mainly - the teacher was out when we made the pizza hardly in class which was nice because we got to wing it - some instruction is good if it's cheerful too much is controlling not enough is neglecting - female teacher who I dont even remember what she looks like. Not many women writing in . I have to repent to God why I was getting on your column.

# 25. 5/11/12 10:06 AM
Where are the 'pimp' ads you had yesterday???

# 26. 5/11/12 10:13 AM by Rocky - Penfield, N.Y.
Would love to know what that person at Burger King looked like! I have a good idea though.

# 27. 5/11/12 10:14 AM by Forrest - Honeoye
thumbsup.gif Probably needs to be taught at school, but it would be nice to see the parents pass their wisdom along to their children as well.

# 28. 5/11/12 10:31 AM by Poplar Beach
Just heard the ad about 'beware of the emerald ass borer' on your radio show. Is the guy related to Liberace!

# 29. 5/11/12 10:35 AM by kittynana - Lewiston NY
"Homemaking commitment". That's the problem in a nutshell.

# 30. 5/11/12 10:42 AM by Abner D

I'm a married guy living alone -- just one of several million I would imagine. As a general rule we don't cook. We can cook, but what would be the point?

To make a short story even longer, if it doesn't come in a can or a jar, I'm not interested. If I want something warm to eat, I call Pizza Hut.

# 31. 5/11/12 10:47 AM by Don - Fort Worth
thumbsup.gif The staple food for the typical kid today seems to be pizza. Pizza, pizza, pizza. Fast-food hamburgers, french fries, soft drink, and the list goes on. Parents are too damned lazy to cook a good healthy home-cooked meal nowadays. I remember when a burger and fries was a treat. Now, it's a "meal". Drinking a soft-drink during breakfast, dinner, or supper was ridiculous (unless you had a burger or hot dogs for lunch fixed at home and that was rare). I still prefer a home-cooked meal over fast-food anytime.

# 32. 5/11/12 10:58 AM by Lee, LPN - Greece, NY
thumbsup.gif My Mom didn't like housekeeping, so I didn't learn to cook at home. Home Ec class had mixed results. Mom cooked in bulk for her large family, which would have been a waste of money time & effort for little old me living on my own. Then I got a free sample cooking magazine and it changed everything. I discovered I could bypass the whole chicken, and just buy the leg quarters. I could honorably buy the small jar of mayo instead of the economy quart size. I had better food, the pride of home-made, fewer leftovers rotting in the fridge, and the unexpected admiration of my husband. I shop at Aldis for great prices, and I shamelessly buy ingredients (like jarred salsa) that save me time, mess, effort and money, and still the Best Cook in the Kitchen Award.

Mexican Pork Chops (2 ingredients) Throw some pork chops in a frying pan and cook for 15 minutes on Medium. Flip them over and smother them with salsa. Make your own, or buy jarred salsa, mild medium or hot. Cook 15 minute more and serve them up. My man likes them with hot biscuits, which I make from a mix, and I ain't sorry, either.

# 33. 5/11/12 11:16 AM
Home cooking is so darn simple. Take a chuck steak, or roast put in the crock pot, cover with water, add potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, salt & pepper, any other spices you like, leave on low all day, ready at dinner time, add a loaf of bread and you have a meal. You can do the same with corned beef, or brisket, or ham, or pork ribs, and cabbage (cut in quarters), or sauerkraut and some carrots.

Also buy a pick-nick ham, heat as instructed, have for an entree with potato salad and baked beans. Put leftover ham and the bone in a crock pot, add a package of dry lentils, or split peas and amount of water called for on the package. Cook on low all day, add that loaf of bread and butter.

It is not rocket science, the recipes are on the package, in books, and on line.

Most people don't cook because they are just lazy!

# 34. 5/11/12 11:27 AM by Porter Rockwell - Lake Bonneville
thumbsup.gif Did you know Papa Murphy's (Take and Bake) pizza chain is allowed to accept food stamps - because the food is (at that point) still unprocessed? I read about a woman who did this many, many times. Disgusting.

Since Home EC is sooooo un-pc, can we just call it 'Life Skills' and provide, as other responders have suggested, a plethora of basics: cooking, laundry, first aid, auto maintenance, financial accounting, financial planning, and basic social skills (including basic communication is all its forms - both oral and written)?

# 35. 5/11/12 11:30 AM by Bob - Rush,NY
thumbsup.gif I did not take Home Ec. I did take a child development course and that dealt with all aspects from birth to raising including diet and discipline.

My simple household skills (cooking, cleaning, shopping, health, values and many others)were taught to me in another setting that is on a slippery slope...The Boy Scouts. Kind of a guys Home Ec

# 36. 5/11/12 11:32 AM
As an older man living alone and I know how to cook and do two or three times a week, but you also need to respect good convenience food. Take some of these Marie calendar dinners which are often on sale for $2.50. They are good, quality dinners and they are a good way to avoid overeating. They have a lot of spices and things that you wouldn't make for one person. Many of the Stouffers are on sale for $2.00 and with a salad make a good meal, again without over eating. If you came from a good home, you leaned these things from your mom and grandmother without a class. Another way to save is take a family pack of ground beef and divide into quarter pound packs for spaghetti or hamburgers. Doesn't take long to make one with some grilled onions and you have a meal.

# 37. 5/11/12 11:37 AM by Tim - Ontario, NY
I don't know, Lonsberry. Your blog has now become a recipe exchange. What's next? A Monday morning coffee clutch?

# 38. 5/11/12 11:59 AM by Mike - Rochester
thumbsup.gif Shop the perimeter not the aisles of the supermarket. Produce, diary, meat. That is FOOD. What is in the aisles are groceries.

# 39. 5/11/12 12:25 PM
When I was in my senior year in high school, the home economics class was called Preparation for Marriage. We were taught all the basic life skills by one of the best teachers to be found in that school. I think of her often, as I go through life, as she taught me so much more than other teachers I had.

# 40. 5/11/12 1:28 PM by rochester escapee
When we criticize someone's mental abilities we call them a birdbrain, because birds aren't considered very bright.

Last summer I watched two birds build a nest over my porch. They formed a union and mated (male and female, unlike some humans), then built a home, took turns faithfully incubating the eggs, and foraged for food. When the eggs hatched they brought food to the young. Eventually they taught them to fly and be independent.

We have hugh swaths of America, mostly urban, where millions of people can't take care of themselves as well as the birdbrained birds can. Of course, the birds didn't have government programs to provide all kinds of free stuff.

# 41. 5/11/12 2:18 PM by tw - rochester, ny
thumbsup.gif Absolutely. People have no idea how to take care of themselves. There are more McDonald's in poor areas than grocery stores. Economics tells us it is supply and demand - there's no demand for grocery stores, but lots of demand for the fast, easy food that is CrapDonalds.

Activists will tell you people are fat because they don't have grocery stores in poor areas where they can buy food for meals. Bullcrap.

Teach people in poor areas to properly run a household, and you'll see profitable grocery stores spring up. Increase the demand and you'll increase the supply.

# 42. 5/11/12 2:24 PM by rachel - Lima Ohio
I work at a downtown office. We had a man doing handywork for us. He would complain that the $250 a month a received in foodstamps was not cutting it for him (he lived by himself). I thought about how many bags of potatoes, lbs of ground beef, and pasta a person could buy with $250. One day he came into the office complaining that he had not ate in 2 days. I gave him a can a soup and a box of crackers from my desk. He was very unhappy about this, he wanted cash. I let him know that is the exact lunch that I ate that day. People don't want to eat what was once called staples. But when you are poor that is what you must do. I was there once,I know.

# 43. 5/11/12 2:47 PM by Hank
thumbsup.gif Thanks, Bob. I owe you one. I always wondered what "ec" meant, so I never took the class.

# 44. 5/11/12 2:56 PM by Chris
For someone who complains about a Nanny State, this seems pretty nanny.

When I was in high school they had Home EC for boys, too. They called it (not kidding) "Bachelor Survival". Those were the days.

# 45. 5/11/12 2:59 PM by S J - Rochester, NY
I strongly agree with a couple of the previous comments; this type of class should teach a variety of life skills and should be mandatory at a later age. We took home economics in 7th grade, and I was just too young to appreciate or remember the lessons being taught. But I did get to make my own stuffed football, which was kind of cool.

But at the same time, aren't these the kinds of skills that parents should teach their kids, leading by example, instead of schools? Maybe it's too difficult to convince your teenager to attend your crock-pot demonstration.

# 46. 5/11/12 3:41 PM by Otto Monocropodopolis - DUFFYVILLE,NY(Copyright 2011 Otto)
"Cook on low heat all day" 8 hours "reduce heat and simmer for 45 min" "place in pot and cook for 7 to 9 hours " This works if you get HEAP....or if gas and electric is included in the rent. Lets see 8 hours of electricity or your wings will be delivered to you in 20 minutes

# 47. 5/11/12 3:56 PM by Diane - Utah
thumbsup.gif My daughter had a class here in Utah followed up with Nutrition and Health. I do however, teach my kids to cook. My son, who served a mission, had me make him a cookbook of recipes. He bought a crockpot at a Salvation Army and made his apartment of 4 missionaries great dinners. He is an excellent cook. My son-in-law thanked me for teaching my daughter how to cook. We, as moms, need to step up and teach too. My youngest prepared dinner for a month as a project. She had to prepare meat dish two veggies every night. She is a good cook and loves fruit and vegetables. I think it starts at home.

# 48. 5/11/12 3:58 PM by Political Observer - Greece, NY
thumbsdown.gif First of all, bring back dodge ball. As a single adult living alone I get by very well with my microwave and pre-cooked food. Pre-cooked bacon and sausage comes out great. There are some really good dry cereals. Egg beaters are also very good. With my coffee machine and microwave I can make an excellent hot breakfast within 5 minutes. No big deal making a sandwich, hot or cold, for lunch. Wash it down with a tall glass of milk. Going out for dinner 4/5 times a week solves the evening meal problem. A lady friend fills in the rest of the week. As I said, who needs Home Ec. We need more dodge ball to toughen folks up. To many whiners in todays youth.

# 49. 5/11/12 4:42 PM by Mrs Mom
We are a family of hunters, so we always have a freezer full of elk. That is a big help on the grocery bill.

Another thing I've found that saves money is planning a menu in advance. I have a list of meals and sides that I am constantly adding to as we find and try new things. I plan our menus and shopping lists out two weeks in advance. This means when we go grocery shopping, we are buying all the ingredients necessary for each meal and snack for two weeks. No random "well I think we could use some of this" stuff. I make sure to include stuff for lunches for the kids to take to school, after school snacks, big weekend breakfasts, and anything else I can think of. Our grocery bill has gone down drastically since I started this because we no longer have to make quick runs to the store for one ingredient that end up turning into 5 grocery bags full of junk and munchies. The only thing I buy in between the two week grocery trips is the occasional gallon of milk.

Also, I try to buy as many canned and frozen ingredients as possible to prevent spoilage. I plan the meals with the fresh produce in the first week to avoid having it go bad. We now feed our family of 5 with less than $100 per week, and this could be cut down quite a bit if we weren't such snackers and if I consistently chose the less expensive meals off my list.

I also patch jeans, mend clothes, replace buttons, and make all our boys church shirts. One pattern costs around $7 and allows me to make shirts of several different sizes - and Walmart sells fabric for as low as $2 per yard.

My husband makes a great living and works his butt off for our family, so it's not like we're forced to be frugal. It just seems stupid not to be.

# 50. 5/11/12 4:58 PM by Mrs Mom
Easy, family pleasers:

Tuna Casserole: 12 oz egg noodles, cooked 2 cans tuna 1-2 cups frozen peas 1 can sliced olives 2 cans cream of mushroom soup 1/4 chopped onion 1/2 cup sour cream 2 cups shredded cheddar 1 mini bag of potato chips, crushed(optional)

Mix everything but the noodles and 1 cup of the cheese together. Fold in the noodles. Dump it all in a 2 quart baking dish. Top with the crushed chips and the other cup of shredded cheddar. Put it in the oven for 15 minutes at 425.

Stuffed Peppers:

1 pound of ground meat (elk, beef, turkey, etc) 3 bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise & seeded 1 cup of cooked rice (any kind) 1/2 cup chopped onion 1/2 can of cream of mushroom, or 1 cup of sour cream, or 8 oz cream cheese 1 can sliced olives (optional) 1/2 sliced mushrooms (optional) 1 can drained corn (optional) spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce shredded cheddar

Blanch the peppers for 3 minutes in boiling water. lay them on a baking sheet or in a baking dish. Mix all other ingredients except spaghetti sauce. Fill each pepper half with the mixture. Top with shredded cheddar and spaghetti sauce. Bake at 350 for 20-25 mnutes or until bubbly. I like this because I can add anything to the mixture and it will be tasty.

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