I'm glad this report hadn't come out when I was pregnant, even if that does mean that I ate the odd baked bean. I had enough to think about already.

London - A quarter of parents regard heating up baked beans or putting a frozen pizza in the oven as “cooking”, according to a new study.

The researchers concluded that people are in danger of losing their cooking skills as more of us rely on ready meals.

Another finding was that traditional British dishes such as steak and kidney pie are in danger of dying out.

The survey of 2,000 adults found that fewer British people than ever are cooking properly every night of the week, with just 19 percent of us doing it, compared to nearly 40 percent 20 years ago.

Researchers found that one in five British parents also believe heating a ready meal in the microwave constitutes cooking, and nine percent of mothers and fathers have tried to pass off microwave meals as their own work.

And 27 percent - or 3.6 million - say shoving a pizza or chicken nuggets and chips in the oven counts as “cooking”.

The poll, commissioned by the cookery book publisher Parragon, also found that as our lives become increasingly hectic, we spend less time in the kitchen than we did 20 years ago.

Just a third of us can claim we spend more than 40 minutes cooking a meal - compared to 50 percent of the previous generation.

As we spend less time cooking, so we are forgetting how to cook traditional favourites. The survey showed just one in five of us have made a steak and kidney pie from scratch in that time.

The descent of Britons’ culinary skills contrasts sharply with the rise in popularity of cookery programmes and celebrity chefs.

More and more of us are relying on frozen food and ready meals - which we munch while watching cookery programmes on television.

But we're not learning from them: the average Briton learns five recipes from a cookbook in comparison to just two from a food show.

The research showed that just a quarter of us are likely to try a recipe we’ve seen on television as we find them too complicated and too fast to follow.

Sue Irvine, a 46-year-old admin worker and mother-of-three from Southampton, said: “We’ve certainly had more pre-prepared meals since having kids.

“When my husband and I get back from work the last thing we want to do is spend an hour in the kitchen cooking - on a busy day it's so much quicker and easier to heat up a ready-made lasagne in the microwave than make it from scratch.”

Vickie Voss, of Parragon Books, which produces the Love Food range of cookbooks, said: “Brits have less time to cook but still want to eat and provide good food.

“Despite millions of us tuning in to cookery shows, a cookbook still seems the easiest way for people to improve their culinary skills as they can go at their own pace, choose recipes to suit their tastes and enjoy the experience of cooking.” - Daily Mail