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The Canned Food Alliance Answers the Call for 'Back To Basics' With Essential Kitchen Toolkit
Date:6/25/2009

According to Rutgers research, families want guidance on kitchen basics and make positive changes when they receive it

PITTSBURGH, June 25 /PRNewswire/ -- With 2009 widely described as "the year of the home cook," it's no surprise that many Americans are getting reacquainted with their kitchens. However, a Rutgers University study published in the May issue of Forum for Family and Consumer Issues and commissioned by the Canned Food Alliance (CFA), recently found moms want, and need a better grasp of kitchen basics. When moms were given a roadmap for healthy meal preparation, grocery shopping, kitchen organization and food storage practices, all made positive changes towards providing nourishing, great-tasting family meals, according to the study.

The in-depth, qualitative Rutgers study was conducted among a subsample of moms of young children(1) across New Jersey - a diversely populated state that reflects national demographics. The researchers conducted interviews to identify the basic kitchen and food requirements of each mother and developed an action program to address them. The first phase of the study found that moms want and need:

  • Ideas for easy, quick and healthful meals that include the use of short-cut ingredients like canned foods to speed prep time;
  • Time-saving tips on healthful food preparation, ingredients and alternatives, methods and techniques; and
  • Cost-effective strategies to help them get the most nutrition from their food dollar.

"Previous research showed that there is a disconnect between what families are keeping on hand and what they're actually turning into meals," said Carol Byrd-Bredbenner, Ph.D., RD, FADA, lead researcher, Nutritional Sciences Department, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. "This study reinforced the idea that moms need help putting nutritious meals on the table, and after evaluating the data, Rutgers researchers developed educational tools to help moms be the family nutrition hero that they desire to be."

Healthful Eating Made Easy

With the goal of providing moms with knowledge on planning, preparing and serving nutritious meals with limited time available, Rutgers researchers gave them action plans for healthful meal planning and grocery shopping, kitchen organization and food storage practices. When another sample group of moms(2) implemented these action plans in their homes with the guidance of a registered dietitian, moms made positive changes in the kitchen. They reported:

  • Improving the nutritional content of their meals--and saving time--by using short-cut ingredients, including canned fruits and vegetables;
  • Reorganizing and de-cluttering their kitchens; and
  • Better organizing their freezer and pantry foods by type or category.

Canned Foods: An Essential Kitchen All-Star

Recognizing that moms make positive changes when they receive advice on how to prepare and serve easy, quick and healthful meals, the Canned Food Alliance partnered with food and nutrition author and educator Roberta L. Duyff, MS, RD, FADA, a home economics expert and dietitian who is also certified in Family and Consumer Sciences. Together, the CFA and Duyff created an Essential Kitchen Toolkit, which is modeled after the successful action plans used in the Rutgers research. The Toolkit offers or ways to help make basic kitchen skills easily accessible to everyone, everywhere. It offers easy-to-read guides for planning and preparing healthful meals, navigating the grocery store and organizing the kitchen, as well as a collection of simple recipes, a kitchen glossary, and food and kitchen safety tips.

"The cornerstone of a good kitchen starts with a well-stocked pantry and the Canned Food Alliance has always viewed canned foods as basic, yet essential kitchen staples. And now, canned foods are more relevant than ever in helping people put today's version of Home Ec 101, or At-Home Economics, into practice in their own kitchens," said Rich Tavoletti, executive director, the Canned Food Alliance. "We're offering all home cooks the Essential Kitchen Toolkit so they can make nutritious, delicious family meals that incorporate canned foods - even when in a hurry. Convenient canned foods are already cooked, so they require less prep work and allow families to get the most nutritional bang for their buck."

Duyff notes that the knowledge and skills basic to At-Home Economics is elevated to a new priority in this "year of the home cook."

"The economic downturn, coupled with the decline of consumer skills, means that the climate is ripe for the resurgence of learning At-Home Economics and the kitchen skills that go along with it," commented Duyff. "Knowing these basics isn't just for consumers. Nutrition, culinary, and family and consumer science professionals need this expertise, too, as they help families everywhere learn and apply practical consumer knowledge and skills for nourishing, flavorful, and affordable home-prepared meals."

On behalf of the CFA, Duyff authored "Home Economics to Family and Consumer Sciences: Reinvented for Today's Consumer," a position paper designed to serve as a resource and perspective on the return of At-Home Economics, including actionable, usable tips and information on how canned foods help consumers to prepare safe, nourishing and economical meals, with convenience and flavor in mind.

Consumers and professionals can visit www.mealtime.org to access the Essential Kitchen Toolkit, At-Home Economics position paper and links to published research from Rutgers University.

About the Canned Food Alliance

The Canned Food Alliance is a partnership of the American Iron and Steel Institute's Steel Packaging Council, the Can Manufacturers Institute, select food processors and affiliate members. The primary mission of the CFA is to drive increased consumption of canned foods by enhancing the perception of their numerous benefits. For hundreds of mealtime solutions, visit www.mealtime.org.

Resources

Rutgers University Research

(1) There were 20 unique participants of the two phases (40 total), who were drawn from a sample of 201 mothers tapped for earlier phases of the study.

(2) There were 20 unique participants for the two phases (40 total), who were drawn from a sample 201 mothers tapped for earlier phases of the study


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