Monthly Archives: June 2012

Here’s one we made earlier….

When you were growing up, did you get to do much cooking at home? If so, what did you cook?

For me it was often limited to the odd sponge cake or scones – nothing I could make too much of a mess of!

But things do seem to be changing. Recently, we asked 1400 of our Let’s Get Cooking school clubs what was their favourite recipe to cooking with the children taking part.

Home-made muffins and curries came top of the list. Our clubs liked both sweet and savoury muffins, many with fruit or vegetable bases – they got almost a quarter of the votes. Spicy dishes like Thai green and seven vegetable curry received a further 12 per cent of their nominations. They also picked soups, scones, vegetable dishes, chilli, smoothies and cous cous as well as bread and home-made pizzas.

And as our club members learn more skills and get more confident in the kitchen, it was fantastic to see more complicated recipes getting a mention, too – it’s out with the fairy cakes and in with Thai salmon laska and mushroom stroganoff!

Learning to cook is changing how children eat. More than half of our members say they’re eating a healthier diet as a result, and children are trying new dishes and learning skills that will help them to eat well as they grow up. With dishes like home-made curries so popular with our clubs, that means more children and their families are getting the skills to make their own using fresh ingredients rather than relying on takeaways and processed meals that can be high in fat and salt.

Let us know what’s your favourite food to cook with your children below – would muffins and curries be in your top ten?

Watch out for Let’s Get Cooking’s regular recipe tips here, or get in touch to see how Let’s Get Cooking could help you.

Claire’s our Media and Communications Manager. Email Claire here.


Why nanny’s earned her place

Sometimes, I feel a bit sorry for nanny.

Spat at in radio phone-ins and comment pieces on a daily basis, she’s the butt of outrage at red tape and excessive regulation and takes a regular – often well-deserved – kicking. But we shouldn’t forget that in the right doses, nanny’s sometimes just the help we need.

I got thinking about her earlier this year. We’d commissioned some national polling to feed into a debate about how the voluntary sector, government and business can do more to help parents help their children to eat more healthily.

The message from the 1000-plus families surveyed for us by ComRes was only too familiar for many of us who are parents: encouraging children to eat well can be really hard. Has it ever been more difficult? Almost three quarters of parents had bought things like chocolate, sweets, crisps and sugary drinks or cereals in the last month when they didn’t intend to, after being pestered by their child.
Two thirds agreed that they could do more to make their child’s diet healthier; the same proportion said they supported the idea of a 9pm watershed for TV advertising of foods high in fat, sugar and salt. Almost all wanted to see healthier children’s menus in restaurants and smaller portions of the adult menus on offer, too. 79 per cent said that there should be minimum nutritional requirements for the food offered by any organisation that may be looking after children.

We asked some similar questions to delegates at our Children’s Food Conference and got some striking answers: 90% said there is still too much advertising of foods high in fat, sugar and salt; 72% of delegates said that pack labelling for children’s food and children’s portions isn’t clear enough; 95% said that there should be stronger minimum requirements for children’s food for any organisation acting in loco parentis.

You might be surprised by these figures; I wasn’t. Listen to your average morning phone-in and it’s easy to assume that many of us would rather face the thumbscrews than admit that nanny might have the odd good point. By no means is she always right for the job, and she can’t – and shouldn’t – do it alone.
But when it comes to the health of our kids – and the critical prognosis for the NHS when it comes to supporting them as tomorrow’s overweight and obese adults – isn’t help from nanny food for thought, if parents themselves admit they’re struggling?

She’s got to work alongside clear information that we can all get our heads around, and genuine efforts to make food and drink products better for all of us.
But if there’s one thing we’ve learned from our work with school food, it’s that nanny really can make a difference. School food still has a way to go, but having nutritional standards set down in legislation has made a tangible impact on the food that children having school meals eat during the day. With nanny’s help, schools that meet the standards are creating an environment that does lead to better choices for at least part of their lives, as they form their ideas about food and healthy eating. Yes, it’s only part of the picture; yes, children still eat the majority of their meals away from school; yes, it’s more difficult to do outside of that environment – but aren’t there things we can learn?

The challenge, of course, is knowing when and how to get nanny involved. What will help rather than hinder parents in feeding their children well? The overwhelming feeling from our conference was that we already know what works; to have an impact, we need to use it all in tandem. Caterers are in a unique position to get behind parents on this. From the looks of our results, they’ll thank you for it. And I suspect that nanny will thank you, too.

Judy’s our Chief Executive. This post was first published in the May 2012 edition of Cost Sector Catering  Email Judy here.

Food in the fifties!

In honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, I’ve pulled together our favourite facts about food in the fifties – ideal for quizzing the kids this weekend!

Did you know that….

We know lots of schools and families are using food to celebrate the Jubilee – let us know what you’ve been up to in the comment box below, or try Let’s Get Cooking’s street party recipes for the Jubilee.

Check for other free resources about fifties food from museums, libraries and archives online.

You can also look at pictures of typical supermarket layout from the fifties at

Caroline’s a former head teacher and is now a manager for our Let’s Get Cooking programme. Email Caroline.