Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences


Background: In previous research, college students reported low confidence and varying skill in meal preparation ability. This study evaluates first-year university students to determine the acceptability of meal preparation programming for this population.

Objective: To assess university freshmen's skill level, confidence, and interest in food budgeting, meal planning, and cooking techniques to determine potential interventions.

Methods: First-year university students (n=265; 58 men, 205 women) were recruited through Facebook and email invitations to complete a 50-item survey. Survey categories included skills/confidence in food budgeting (8), meal planning (12), and cooking techniques 12); class interest (4), student background information (9), and general comment sections (5). Student responses were compiled into food budgeting, meal planning, and cooking technique composite scores. One-way ANOVA and descriptive statistics were used to report mean data and compare groups within

Results: The mean composite scores for food budgeting, meal planning, and meal preparation were 27.8/40 (SD:5.46), 37/53 (SD:6.95), 37.9/48 (SD: 6.87) respectively. Females scored higher than males in food budgeting (p=0.006) and meal planning (p=0.001). Students in health-related majors scored higher in all three categories (p=0.010), (p=0.002), and (p=0.001) respectively. Individuals reporting food insecurity scored lower in all three categories (p=0.001), (p=0.001), and (p=0.001) respectively. 86% of students reported interest in class attendance. Comments indicated desire for :flexibility and recipe/application ideas.

Conclusion: Students were more confident in cooking techniques than food budgeting or meal planning. The evidence shows opportunity to propose future interventions for university freshmen.

Included in

Nutrition Commons



Faculty Mentor

Sheryl Aguilar

Departmental Honors Advisor

Heidi Wengreen

Capstone Committee Member

Kristine Miller