Cook at home? It's a hassle for many

Aviation executive Hazel Tan eats out five times a week - for both lunch and dinner.

Home-cooked food for her and her naval-officer husband Cheong Yaohui remains a pipe dream, simply because of the hassle of preparing a meal.

While Ms Tan, 25, knows the benefits of home-cooked food, she pointed out: "By the time I reach home, I'm usually too tired or hungry to cook.

"It's also tougher to buy ingredients to cook just for my husband and me, as there'll usually be quite a bit of leftovers.

"Besides, there are healthier dining options now when you eat out."

They are not alone.

According to a survey conducted by household and professional appliances company Electrolux, one in three people here eats out more than they do at home - the second-highest figure among 10 Asia-Pacific countries polled.

However, only two in 10 actually preferred doing so. 

The survey was conducted between January and March this year. It involved 500 residents aged 29 to 59.

Similarly, the latest National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Health Promotion Board in 2010 showed that six in 10 Singaporeans eat out at least four times a week.

Sylvia Tan, 66, author of several cookbooks, noted that young people are not cooking because they are "just too busy" and are "not exposed to kitchen skills".

"When I was growing up, I had to help out in the kitchen a lot. It used to be part and parcel of growing up," she said.

"Now, a lot of the younger ones grow up with maids, and they don't need to help out and they don't know the basics."

She observed that "generally, people start cooking only when they have a child, because they can't take the child everywhere and I don't think it's very healthy for the child to eat out all the time".

Stallholders at wet markets echoed the same sentiment.

Foo Ah Ang, 45, who works at a vegetable stall, lamented the younger generation's lack of culinary knowledge, saying: "They will ask me what kind of vegetables they should buy - to put in instant noodles."

B. S. Wong, 60, who sells pork, believes that young people are also not keen on cooking because they are put off by having to wash up as well.

The irony is that more young Singaporeans seem to be taking to the kitchen for leisure, rather than necessity.

At kitchen and tableware retail store Tools of The Trade, which organises cooking and baking classes, some of its baking classes are proving popular with participants in their 20s.

Its director, Grace Tan, said: "Some young people could be too busy to cook on work days but take these classes on weekends to pick up new recipes and culinary skills, de-stress and even meet new people.

"Some of them do enjoy baking as a hobby and would put on an apron on weekends to impress friends with their creations."

But the kitchen is not always a no-go zone to young people - there are also those who willingly take to the wok.

Civil servant Neo Wen Tong, 25, said she plans to cook more when her own home is ready. She currently lives with her in-laws, and prepares lunch to take to work.

"Cooking at home is cheaper and I enjoy cooking. It's relaxing," she said. "If I cook more for dinner, it just means I have ready-made lunch for work the next day."

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