Why Budget Cooking Tips Are Useless For Low-Income Families

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The study focused on about 120 low-income mothers from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds living in central North Carolina. The often overlooked reality is that it’s actually not simple for many people, especially low-income parents and other caregivers. Much of the research and advice surrounding time spent cooking doesn’t really grasp the full picture, Elliott said. Obstacles like unpredictable shift work, unreliable appliances, lack of easy access to fresh food and the very high expectations of modern parenting can make budget cooking (and thus, any fresh home cooking) downright unreachable. Bowen pointed out that many mothers in the study didn’t have cars or easy access to a grocery store.

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The internet is rife with “simple,” budget-friendly cooking tips. As a food writer, I’ve certainly endorsed things like bulk-buying grains, roasting sheet pan after sheet pan of vegetables on a slow Sunday afternoon, and relying on prepared foods like rotisserie chicken when you just don’t have time to cook. The (mostly white, mostly middle-class) food reformers who sell the idea that a return to home cooking will solve many of our health problems insist that healthy, budget-friendly cooking is absolutely...

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