O level Notes : Food Technology Design - Consumer Education

A consumer is anyone who uses goods and services. We are all consumers, we buy food, clothes, use services such as public transport, electricity, water, and many others.

Consumer education is concerned with the buying of goods, responsibilities and rights, getting the best value for one's money and accountability. Wise consumers make the best use of resources available to them. There is great need for consumers to use resources such as food, fuel, labour and time economically.

Economic use of food

  • To economise on food the journey begins at the store. Smart shopping is a necessity.

Planning meals and making use of grocery lists assists in avoiding impulse buying hence when shopping one buys what he or she actually wants to consume rather than buying just for the sake of it. One should buy items that he or she has a plan of using and there is need to wait until perishables are used up before buying more and should check expiry dates whenever buying food items.

  • The FIFO (first in first out) method of stock utilisation should be used. When packing groceries older groceries should be moved to the front of the fridge, freezer or pantry and put new products at the back. This is to make sure that older food items are first finished before new ones are introduced.
  • What is thrown away should be monitored. For instance, when skinning the onion only the outer dry part should be thrown away. Instead of peeling a carrot it can be scrapped. In the case of bread, if it happens to become stale, throwing away is not an option but rather it can be toasted or dried to produce breadcrumbs for coating fried foods.

  • Stock checks of food in the pantry should be taken, and upcoming expiring dates on food that is already available should be used in planning meals before the food reaches its expiration date. Keep a list of what is in the freezer, showing the date it was frozen for easy reference, and items should be used before they pass their prime.
  • As a way of economising food, vegetable stems should not be chopped off excessively. Leave the skin on for some foods such as cucumbers, fruits and potatoes, because the skin, is a good source of dietary fibre. Leaving the skin on minimize food wastage and discarding of additional nutrients found in the skin of some fruits and vegetables.
  • Upon cutting meat and vegetables, leftover scraps are guaranteed and these could be used for other purposes. Home-made stocks can be made from leftover scraps of meat. Citrus fruit rinds and zest can be used to add flavour to other meals.
  • The concept of giving and donating shows a good gesture. There is need to donate that which we are not using. For instance, gross stuff (unwanted food remains) can be donated to farmers, they may use food scraps for feeding pigs or even adding the scraps to compost. It improves the fertility of the soil, and in turn helping improve yield.
  • Often food is left behind after a meal due to a variety of reasons, which may be beyond one's control. Among them are, a sudden drop in appetite, failure of expected guests to arrive or cooking too much. These left overs should not be thrown away. The leftovers should be refrigerated or frozen for future use. Peanut butter can be added to rice that has been left over. It can also be thawed and steamed then served as a carbohydrate dish for a meal.
  • Proper use of the fridge pays dividends. Proper storage of food in the fridge makes it last longer. After harvesting a large quantity of tomatoes from the garden, they can be washed, and frozen for future use. They can also be grated and frozen then used in the preparation of stews and casseroles. Vegetables like carrots and green beans can be blanched and frozen.


Fuel economy

  • During food preparation, a variety of heat sources is used. Amongst these are gas, electricity, firewood, coal and many others. These need to be used carefully in order to obtain value for money.
  • During cooking the pans should be covered, this is done to ensure that heat is kept in the pan. This is evident when a pudding basin is covered during the steaming of a pudding or during the steaming of a fillet of fish. No heat escapes and the food is thoroughly cooked.
  • Accuracy in food preparation guarantees the cook of best results. Heating the correct quantity of water saves fuel. If the recipe requires 1 cup of water it is good to stick to the requirements of the recipe in order to save fuel. It is also not wise to boil vegetables in lots of water. Besides wasting fuel, the colour and nutritive value of

vegetables is lost in the cooking water.

  • Preheating an oven longer than necessary wastes a lot of fuel. Preheating should be timed so that the oven is just coming up to temperature when you are ready to put in the food. There are foods such as meat and casseroles that which do not require the oven to be preheated, however, baked foods do require the oven to be preheated.
  • When preparing meals, one should either use the top of the stove only or the oven only. Using both the top of the stove and the oven at the same time is not economical. After using the stove, it should be turned off early the reason being that pans retain a lot of heat even after the stove is turned off. Residual heat enables the food to be fully cooked. For instance, when cooking sadza residual heat from the solid hot plate can ensure thorough cooking and in turn help economise on fuel.
  • Batch baking is when more than one food items are baked all at once or rather at the same time to serve on fuel. A required quantity of scones can be baked at one goal for a particular week. On the other hand, the use of a tiered steamer enables the cook to prepare the whole meal at once.
  • When using the small hot plate or burner to cook, one should ensure that the size of the hot-plate or burner matches the size of the pan or pot. It would make sense that if preparing a smaller meal then a smaller pan or pot should be used on a small hob to match the size of the pan.
  • A wise cook reduces the overall cooking time of a meal. Logically if less time is spent cooking, less energy is used and one should actually stick to the energy efficient cooking methods and always plan meals ahead. Defrosting all frozen items in the refrigerator is better than making use of the microwave oven to thaw food. Opening of the oven door when baking leads to excess loss of energy and leads to poor cooking.


Economic use of the gas stove

Gas stoves are becoming popular in recent years. However, the gas stoves should be used economically. Heat should be reduced as much as possible. The pot or pan that is being used on the gas stoves should be completely covered by the flames. For best results, flat-bottomed cookware is ideal, the base remains in contact with the flames at all times. Gas burners should be kept clean to ensure that they are working properly. The flames emitted should be bright blue colour. Yellow flame is a sign of incomplete combustion, which means that the gas in the lines is not releasing its potential and this wastes lots of gas. Besides being irritated by a weak burner, it is also dangerous to the user, because incomplete combustion leads to the release of hazardous carbon monoxide. Potential leaks should be checked hence close attention should be paid to strange smells. The detection of a smell would mean a potential leak therefore; leaks should be dealt with immediately.


When using the gas stove, have all ingredients ready to go prior to cooking. It is wise to ensure that everything that needs thawing, seasoning, marinating and basting is in

place before turning on the gas stove. Cutting ingredients into smaller pieces, giving frozen foods time to thaw and cooking food in batches can all help cut down on the overall cooking time.


Economic use of labour

  • In order to cut down on labour while working in the kitchen the use of labour saving devices and convenience foods solve the problem. Convenience foods are ready to serve or cook with only the minimum of preparation or cooking. These include tinned foods, frozen foods, instant foods, cake mixes, scone, mixes, ready made custard sauces and many others. Examples of labour saving devices include washing machines, dishwashers and electric mixers. The freezer can also serve as a labour saving device because one could cook large quantities of food then freeze for example relish for the whole week, cakes, scones and freeze for future use.


Economic use of time

  • Time is a resource that people all over the world share alike. People all over the world have twenty-four hours a day at disposal unlike other resources where some have more while others have less. Each individual requires time to prepare, cook meals, set and clear the table, wash up, clean the food preparation area, and carry out a variety of tasks hence all these activities are very time consuming.
  • Planning is a very important attribute that has to be possessed by every individual in life. Learners carry out their planning session in order to determine that which they will cook during their practical examination. The whole procedure of choosing dishes, drawing the time plan and the shopping list is a good sign of planning. Planning saves time in the sense that one can prepare more than six dishes in two and a half hours simply because all the ingredients and equipment required will be in place.
  • Nowadays there are so many inventions on machinery and equipment. The popularity of labour saving devices has made cooking an easier task. The task of creating a cake requires lots of time and effort. Creaming fat and sugar until light and fluffy can be done manually using a wooden spoon and a mixing bowl. In order to save time, the same process can be done using an electric mixer and completed within a short space of time.
  • Due to large numbers of women going to work, convenience foods have gained popularity in recent years. There is less leisure time spent in food preparation and a large number of people now own freezers hence the use of convenience foods is now very popular. These convenience foods cut on cooking time by a great percentage.
  • When cooking foods that take a long time to cook for instance beans, it is advisable to soak the beans first to reduce cooking time. The soaking water

should be used for cooking in order to retain the nutrive value, therefore beans should be washed before soaking. The same applies with tough cuts of meat and offals. These can be boiled in bulk and frozen in portions, which will in turn be thawed, dressed, and thus cut on the cooking time. Dishes that require the same cooking temperature can be prepared at the same time.


Here is what we discussed in this topic

  • Consumers are people who use goods and services, however they should use these goods and services economically.
  • Foods, fuel, labour and time should be utilized economically.
  • The economic use of food assists in the cutting down of costs in budgeting.
  • Economic use of fuel improves on the households monthly saving.
  • Labour, fuel, food and time used economically cuts down on variable costs of production and the economic use of time facilitates greater output in production.
  • If all outlined resources would be used economically, it necessitates the development of the economy.
  • The skilful uses of food, fuel, labour and time makes the duties conducted in the kitchen much more enjoyable.