Journal of Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences




Our purpose in this research study was to examine perceptions of food and nutrition educators (FNEs, i.e., Registered Dietitians Nutritionists and Family and Consumer Science teachers) and young adults (ages 18–25) on the status of cooking and food skills among young adults. Using a cross-sectional survey design, FNEs (n = 93) and college-attending young adults (n = 270) in the United States completed electronic surveys. The qualitative and quantitative data were collected and analyzed using a convergent mixed-methods approach. The qualitative data from open-ended survey responses collected from young adults and FNEs were analyzed using coding reliability thematic analysis. The quantitative data used Fisher’s Exact Test to compare the importance of food skills between FNEs and young adults. In the quantitative data, young adults and FNE reported the top five food skills essential for young adults with slight variations between the two groups. For young adults, “cooking meat and poultry” was their top skill while FNEs chose “reading and following a recipe” as the top food skill. Three themes were constructed through coding reliability thematic analysis: (1) definition of cooking, (2) perceptions of the purpose of cooking, and (3) young adults’ autonomy in cooking. We concluded that young adults understood the benefits of cooking and eating healthily, but many felt overwhelmed by it. While educational food skill interventions should focus on foundational skills, cooking should be taught with consideration of young adults in mind (e.g., time and money limitations) to make the skills practical and enduring.