Have you ever said, “I wish I had more hours in the day?” Often busy families are searching for more time and ways to complete tasks easier and faster. Marketers recognize the growing importance that individuals place on products designed to save time and have shifted the marketplace to adapt to people’s changing lifestyles. Typically the benefit of convenience products is added time; however, in the quest for a few extra minutes, the consumer is often sacrificing cost, quality, and taste.
Students Issues in Family Resource Management (FAM 402) recently tested the concept of cost versus convenience. Dr. Jennifer Hunter, Assistant Extension Professor in the Department of Family Sciences, designed a special hands-on exercise for her class. With the help of Chef Bob Perry, Instructor in the Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, 27 students tested four preparation methods for chocolate chip cookies. These included made from scratch, semi-convenient (cookie mix, butter, and water), convenient (slice and bake), and ready to eat. Each group tracked preparation time, baking time, and clean-up time for their assigned method.
After the students prepared the cookies, they participated in a blind taste-test assessing the cookies on appearance, taste, cost per cookie, and total preparation time. Finally, the students completed a reflection to assess the advantages and disadvantages of each method. The intent of the activity was to help students apply a classroom concept to their everyday lives. Based on the student reflection, the results appear to have yielded more than just some yummy cookies.
Kelly Henderson, a family sciences junior from Fayette County, commented “I enjoyed getting to work with my classmates in a different environment. Also, I enjoyed getting to see how all the methods compared to each other.” Another student, Kayla Ewing, reflected, “I enjoyed getting up with group members and being hands-on. The class as a whole seemed to have fun and it was a learning experience. I learned that I actually like putting in a little extra work.”