My recipe for the new cooking curriculum

EileenMaybe it’s a bit early for a review of the year. But there’s no doubt that one of the stand-out bits of progress for children’s food education from 2013 was the move to put more practical cooking back into the curriculum.

The revised curriculum – which comes into force next September – will mean that more children learn how to cook at school, with lessons right up until they’re 14 years old.

It’s a great step forward – at the moment, too many young people are leaving school not knowing how to cook a decent meal for themselves (which is why we’ve also been working with PizzaExpress on getting kids cooking).

But it will take a bit of planning to get ready for more cooking in the timetable. Is your school thinking about it yet? Don’t struggle alone, wondering where to look for help and advice on the facilities and training your school might need. There are lots of organisations offering some fantastic resources and ideas for teaching cooking; training for teachers on how to cover the basics; and practical support to find the best place in your school to teach practical cookery and to work out what equipment you’ll need.

There are thousands of different ways to approach it – the commitment and confidence to make it happen is half the battle.

So, get in touch with our team to sort out any worries you might have on space, facilities and equipment – then get onto the fun bit! Here’s a bit of food for thought on what sorts of recipes would get cooking in the curriculum off to a flying start: my basics that every child should learn:

  • Basic scone recipe – it’s amazing how something so simple can be so versatile. The recipe itself is great to teach basic weighing, measuring and mixing skills. But it can be made into so many things: savoury scones (parmesan and herb; sundried tomato, olive and feta); scone loaves (garlic and herb is a particular favourite); a simple pizza base; a cobbler; or a crumble. Not forgetting, of course, the basic sultana or other fruit scone, which is where it all begins….
  • Chicken tikka masala – well, it is one of Britain’s favourite dishes! Which? found the average chicken tikka masala in a takeaway contains almost 1400 kcalories. Ours only contains 319kcalories per portion! We teach children how to make their own curry paste from scratch – an excellent opportunity to learn about lots of different herbs and spices, which most children will never have seen before. It’s also the chance to teach proper techniques for handling and cooking meat, and foods from different cultures
  • Basic mince recipes. Every child should learn a basic tomato and mince sauce recipe to turn into spaghetti bolognaise, chilli con carne or lasagne. Show children how to make a ragu sauce so they aren’t relying on jars which can be expensive and high in salt. And this is the time to show children how to cook with meat-free mince as an alternative – cheaper and lower in fat than standard beef or other mince
  • Basic white sauce – the recipe that puts fear into all of us! But learn it well and you’ll never have to rely on expensive shop-bought versions again. Great for using in a fish pie – use oily fish like salmon or frozen prawns to increase omega 3 levels (an essential fatty acid which helps us with heart health)
  • Rainbow cous-cous – these sorts of non-cook, simple dishes make a wonderful way to teach children about safe chopping and peeling, and for delivering the 5-a-day message. You can make this with orange juice rather than boiling water so it’s suitable even for very young children, and works well even for schools struggling for kitchen space and equipment
  • Apricot and chocolate biscuits – not all biccies have to lack in nutrition! Apricots, cocoa and treacle are all a source of iron, a nutrient that far too many children don’t get enough of. The added oats are great for an energy boost.

Eileen’s one of our regional Let’s Get Cooking managers for the North West. Follow her on Twitter, or email Eileen.

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