Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Homemade or readymade? 4 million Britons cook up little white lies in the kitchen

Kitchen Confessions, a report published by cooking ingredient specialists Very Lazy, uncovers the truth behind the dishes served up on tables across the nation. One finding the research revealed is that four million Britons are prepared to pass off readymade food as their own. So - next time someone tells you the meal in front of you is made from scratch - take it with a pinch of salt.

Lifting the lid on our cooking habits, this latest report shows that many of us rely on smart shortcuts. Nearly three quarters of us (72 per cent) own up to cutting corners in the kitchen, whether that’s cooking everything in one pan or choosing to throw in pre-chopped garlic or ginger. Almost two million (1.8m) people even admit they only cook food from frozen.

BBC commentator and Professor of Psychology at Manchester University, Geoff Beattie, says: “Cutting corners in the kitchen is one coping mechanism that many people use to help their lives run a little bit smoother. We shouldn’t feel guilty about taking a few shortcuts here as long as we are happy and healthy.”

“If these shortcuts free up a little bit of time for the things that really matter, then this can be a very good thing indeed. In our time pressured lives it is sometimes finding time for the small things that matter – like asking your partner or your children how their day went in a quiet catch-up moment, like sharing your feelings with those you care about, like reading to your children – that make all the difference to quality of life and the strength and nature of the bonds that hold us together. Anything that facilitates these sorts of moments, which should be a core part of everyday life, has to be beneficial, even something like taking shortcuts in the kitchen.”

Surprisingly it’s men who dare to experiment the most in Britain's kitchens – with 88 per cent who like to try ingredients they have never used before and 70 per cent bold enough to abandon the cookbooks.

But are these men adventurous cooks or simply show offs? When asked, 78 per cent believed they had recently impressed someone with their cooking, including their friends, family, partner and even their in-laws. Either way, it seems that men also enjoy the fruits of their efforts, with 96 per cent of the men questioned saying that takeaways don’t taste as good as home cooking.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, women are the most efficient when it comes to food preparation, with over three quarters (76 per cent) writing a shopping list to make sure they buy all the food they need quickly and easily. As for keeping the kitchen tidy, 78 per cent of women clean up as they cook, however the figure is higher for men (84 per cent). For many women though, this does beg the question: “what is a man’s definition of ‘clean’?!”

Chef and Very Lazy's Chief Recipe Maker, Rob Cottam, says: "We all know that men and women generally have different cooking styles but it’s great to get this glimpse into how the kitchens of the UK work! Taking shortcuts is nothing to be ashamed of – good cooking is about eliminating the hassle and having great food at your fingertips."

"What you prepare is still your own, even if you’ve only actually made half of it and there is something really satisfying about giving your partner or family something you’ve cooked yourself!
What we want to encourage is people regaining their confidence in the kitchen. Hopefully we’re realising more and more that using smart shortcuts in the kitchen is a good way to cook great food, fast. We don’t need to slave away for hours to cook - healthy, tasty food is about cooking smarter, not harder.”

The Kitchen Confessions research also revealed the following national and regional statistics:


- Almost a quarter of the UK (24%) cooks a whole meal in one pan
- 84% of men claim to clean up as they cook
- 90,000 women in the UK cook food for less time than they should to save time
- Only 1% of us have recently cooked to impress our boss
- 85% of the UK likes to cook ingredients they have never used before
- 16% of men admit they avoid using too many utensils as it creates too much washing up
- Only a quarter of us remember recipes from memory
- Only one in ten men when asked said they have recently cooked to impress their in-laws
- Over three quarters of the UK (77%) order a takeaway as a night off from cooking
- Men are twice as likely to have recently impressed a date with their cooking as women

Regional breakdown:

- London: Londoners lead the way when it comes to impressing with their cooking skills - 56% use cooking as a way to impress others and 1 million have recently cooked to impress a date. That’s three times the national average
- Wales: People in Wales are the most honest in the UK – only 3% said they would try and pass off readymade or shop bought food as their own, compared to the national average of 7%
-North East: Men in the North East are the most likely to cook to impress their partners – 63% have recently impressed their partner with their cooking (that’s 20% more than the national average)
-East Midlands: People in the East Midlands work the hardest in the kitchen – only 59% cut corners in the kitchen, compared to the national average of 72%
-Northern Ireland: A staggering 18% of the population of Northern Ireland, that’s nearly 800,000 people, admitted they only cook frozen food
-South East: The South East of England is home to the most organised people in the kitchen with 82% writing a shopping list and 85% cleaning up as they cook
-Yorkshire: People in Yorkshire are the messiest cooks, with over a quarter (26%) admitting they don’t clean up as they cook
-West Midlands: Men in the West Midlands are more experimental in the kitchen with 24% more males than females preferring to throw ingredients in to experiment when cooking
-Scotland: Only 4% of Scots said they order a takeaway because it tastes better than home cooking
-East of England: People in the East of England come out on top when it comes to using cookbooks with almost half (46%) following a recipe from a book when cooking
- North West: 88% of people in the North West like to experiment in the kitchen by trying new ingredients
- South West: 49 % of women in the South West prefer to throw in ingredients when they are cooking – this is the highest in the UK


Very Lazy, cooking ingredients specialists are part of English Provender Company. The Very Lazy brand, launched in the early 1990s, is aimed at people who have busy lives but still demand good quality, homemade food in a matter of minutes. The Very Lazy range includes chopped ingredients and pastes (garlic, chillies and ginger) and eight 20-minute cooking concentrates with popular British classics updated, such as Posh Sausage to more exotic tastes with Caribbean Chicken proving a best seller.

With the strapline, ‘Great Food at your Fingertips’, Very Lazy is available to buy at supermarkets including Asda, Tesco, Co-op, Morrisons and Sainsburys and online at

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