Home Economics was once a very important class for young ladies.
Most of us had the best Home Ec teacher at home – our moms! But, regardless, we still had to take Home Ec in school. While each teacher had a different plan, there were a few lessons that were quite common. We learned so much in these classes, from basics to what might be considered advanced cooking by today’s standards.
Home Economics got its start as a college course at MIT in the late 1800s. In the early 20th century the concept of efficiency in housework was increasingly seen as a way to lessen the load on wives and mothers, giving rise to the Home Ec classes we took in school. Today many Home Ec classes are no longer on the schedule in high schools and middle schools. Often the classes that remain teach little in the way of actually cooking or life skills, instead focusing on using boxed or prepared foods to assemble a meal of sorts. We’re happy our Home Ec classes taught us genuine recipes and techniques!
1) Simple Sewing & Measuring
Common projects were often an apron or baby clothes, but really anything could up for grabs. Those who had to sew clothing for themselves often had a heck of a time!
In Home Ec we learned how to plan and send invitations, how to answer the phone, and other basics of correspondence.
3) Nutrition & Meal Planning
From how to plan a meal to how much to make, this is an essential part of learning to cook. Cooking for one or for five, every size meal has its own challenges in the planning stage. And we also learned that in order to be able to cook for yourself you’ll need to make sure your shopping cart isn’t just filled with snack foods and chips!
4) How to Properly Set a Table
From place settings to arrangement of the dishes and flowers, this was one thing our Home Ec teacher spent quite a lot of time on.
5) How to Boil Eggs
This simple task is actually pretty easy to botch, especially if you leave them in too long.
6) A Basic Roux or Bechamel Sauce
The foundation for gravies, alfredos, and cheese sauces that would make many recipes so much easier, we’re glad we learned this cooking basic so early.
7) Weights and Measures
From scaling fractions to adjust for recipes to the different ways to measure wet and dry ingredients, there was a lot to learn about measuring in Home Ec!
8) How to Iron Clothes
We do a whole lot less ironing these days thanks to forgiving fabrics that are knit or are wrinkle resistant. But, back in the day it was still considered a necessary skill for kids going into adulthood.
9) How to Make and Stick to a Budget
Admittedly this is a lifelong lesson, but we learned the basics of how to economize our grocery shopping, how to manage a checkbook, and what the real cost of planning a meal or party can be.
10) How to Put Out a Grease Fire
This is an extremely important one! We learned to cover it or dump baking soda on it if no fire extinguished was available. Everyone should learn how to handle a grease fire.
11) How To Make a Good Cake from Scratch
You can argue that cake from a mix is just as good, but everyone knows that homemade cakes are some of the tastiest ever made. Learning how to perfect different types of cakes takes years, but we’re glad we got the fundamentals in Home Ec.
12) How to Make and Present Appetizers
This may seem like no big deal, but we had a head start for all our dinner parties because of Home Ec.
13) How to Properly Clean Up
This is another very basic, yet extremely important lesson. Knowing how to make sure a kitchen is really clean is something we should all learn early on.
14) Table Manners
Not just etiquette that we could use at home with family, but for more formal occasions, the table manners we learned in
Home Ec turned out to be very useful!
15) How to Time Your Food Prep
One thing we learned in Home Ec was how to budget time in order to ensure the success of the end product we were making. As nice as it was to be free from our desks, we still had to stay on task so that those blueberry muffins would be done before the period was over.