Creative Brand Communications


September 17, 2013

Mamma Mia! British Students Are Clueless In The Kitchen.

LONDON, Tuesday 17th September 2013: They’re the future captains of industry and leaders of our country, yet as students across the country head away from home to begin the academic year, it’s revealed over three quarters (78%) can’t boil an egg* whilst half struggle to make mashed potato and cook rice!

That’s the finding of a new study into the culinary capabilities and eating habits of British students, three quarters of whom (73%) admit they cannot cook simple healthy meals for themselves.

The research, by Italian pesto pioneers Sacla’ polled 1000 University students and 1000 parents to reveal that the vast majority of students (73%) are subsisting on an unhealthy diet of snacks, ready meals and takeaways because they believe that they cannot cook, with the average British student sitting down to less than five home cooked meals per week (57% make 5 or less meals from scratch per week).

A whopping 57% of the British students surveyed admitted that they do not know how to cook vegetables, with half (50%) unsure of how to make mashed potato, and 49% unable to slice a pepper.  Three quarters (75%) confessed that they couldn’t roast a chicken whilst eight in ten (80%) were clueless on how to make a white sauce and 45% were left scratching their heads when asked how to make spaghetti bolognese.

Four in ten university students (40%) consider their diet to be unhealthy, while a third (33%) are spending over £25 per week on booze, leading a quarter (26%) to believe that their lifestyle  is having an adverse effect on their grades.

Student respondents revealed that they can only prepare five recipes from memory compared to a national average of nine, and admitted that they are shunning their kitchens in favour of other food sources.  Half of all British students eat two or more takeaways per week, while one in five (22%) consume five or more.  Fish and chips is the most popular indulgence with 25% eating at least once per week, followed by pizza (20%) and fried chicken (17%).  A third of students (34%) also eat at least one microwave ready meal per week, while 8% admitted they rely on energy drinks to keep them awake and alert during lectures.

The research revealed that students are worried that their poor diet is resulting in a lack of energy (36%), inability to concentrate (28%) and weight gain (24%).  A third (32%) suspect that their unhealthy lifestyle is making them more susceptible to illnesses such as colds and ‘flu, while 15% think that their consumption of takeaways and snacks is leading to more spots.

For parents of students, their children’s diets are a very real cause for concern, with two thirds (67%) worried that their children eat unhealthily while at university and 72% wishing their offspring were better at cooking.  A third of parents (36%) are concerned that their child won’t have enough energy to do their course work, while a significant number (14%) worry that their lack of skills in the kitchen will result in food poisoning!

However, while a whopping 94% of parents acknowledge that a healthy diet is important for students, many who had tried to teach their children to cook before they went away revealed that they had failed.  They cited their offspring’s laziness (14%), inability to pay attention (14%) and the sessions resulting in arguments (15%) as the main reasons.  A quarter of parents (25%) revealed that they feel guilty that they have not prepared their children better for eating whilst away from home.

In an attempt to change the way our students eat for the better and debunk the myths they believe about healthy eating, Sacla’ have teamed up with Italian mothers in five university cities, who over the course of the coming weeks will open up their kitchens to students in dire need of some Italian instruction and inspiration, for the Sacla’ Student Cookery School initiative.

In London, Bristol, Manchester, Swansea, and Glasgow, the mammas will guide groups of students in the creation of healthy, delicious and cheap recipes that will see them through Freshers Week and beyond. Working to an overall student friendly budget of £20 a week, which was identified by the research as the average amount students have to spend, the undergraduates will be shown how to make everything from a one-pot meal for friends, a brain boosting revision lunch and a post-pub snack to help ward off their hangovers.

In the best Italian tradition, the students will be taught how to get the most out of cheap, fresh and easy to get hold of ingredients and store cupboard staples – all treated with love, passion and Italian flair.

The mothers have been prepared for their classes by Tom Parker-Bowles, who offered guidance, hints and tips.

Tom said: “This is a fantastic initiative from Sacla’ – it’s clear from their research that students are ill-prepared when it comes to cooking healthy, nutritious meals at a time when they need all the help they can get from what they eat. I have a lot of admiration for the Mammas involved and look forward to seeing how they all get on!”

Also involved in preparing the mothers was food consultant Lorna Wing, who held a training day to bring them up to speed on how to hold the classes.

Clare Blampied, MD of pesto pioneers Sacla’, said: “Helping to keep students nourished and healthy during their time at university can be simple. We understand that being away from home for the first time is difficult for students and have come up with this plan to show students how easy it is to cook great tasting Italian inspired meals quickly and on a budget. The five Italian Mammas are great and we’re so pleased to have them on board. Hopefully the recipes taught to the students will be passed on to their friends and family members following this activity.”

Students can apply to take part in a class this October by emailing: [email protected] or visiting the Sacla’ Facebook page or

Follow the progress of the students at: and @SaclaUK

For recipes and inspiration, visit



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